Monday, June 16, 2014

Contemporary Art: Ausweitung der Kampfzone/Expansion of the Combat Zone @ Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin

A.R. Penck, "Die Zukunft des Emigranten/The Future of the Emigrant"
Katharina Sieverding, "Schlachtfeld Deutschland XI 78/Battlefield Germany XI 78"
 Sigmar Polke, "Landmaus und Stadtmaus (Lügen und Wunder der Malerei/The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse (The Lies and Miracles of Painting)".

(Drivebycuriosity) - Do you like contemporary art? Then you might travel to Berlin. The "Neue Nationalgalerie" there has now a compelling exhibition of contemporary art, called "Ausweitung der Kampfzone/Expansion of the Combat Zone" (through December 31, 2014. ) (

The title of the show refers to Michel Houellebecq`s novel "Extension du domaine de la lutte/Expansion of the Combat". According to the curators, "the French author describes the general attitude of the capitalistic generation in the 1990s that understood its entire existence as a combat zone with changing fronts". That sounds funny as you can find there works by Andy Warhol & Damien Hirst. Both employ (or had employed) dozens of technicians who produce (produced) their works and sell (sold) the products for millions of dollars. Both acquired a fortune of some hundred million dollars each.

Werner Tübke, "Frühbürgerliche Revolution Deutschland/Early Bourgeois Revolution in Germany"
                                          Gerhard Richter, "Atelier/Studio"
                                     Neo Rauch, "Der Auftrag/The Order"
 Albert Kehlen; "Als Gott den Rock erschuf, muss er geil gewesen sein/when God Created the Skirt He Must Have Been Horny"
                     Sigmar Polke, "Manöverschaden/Damages resulting from Manoeuvers

Irony of Postmodernism

But anyway, the show is fascinating. The curators refer to "student revolts and sexual liberation, fear of nuclear war and environmental awareness, terrorism and punk, the fall of the Berlin wall and globalization, computers and the Internet, stock market booms and the new economy". In the eventful years between 1968 and 2000, which the exhibition is dedicated to, "combat zones specific to the art world began to emerge, for instance between painting and new media, traditional visual art and temporal and process art, between the irony of postmodernism and the trashy replicas produced by a younger generation.

You can find there some of the German superstars like Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Anselm Kiefer, Neo Rauch and Joseph Beuys. There also are American, English & Asian celebrities like Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Nam June Park and - as mentioned - Andy Warhol & Damien Hirst.

(from above: Rainer Fetting, "Van Gogh und Mauer V", Markus Lüpertz, "Kloake I", Konrad Klapheck, "Glanz und Elend der Reformen", Martin Kippenberger, Put your Freedom in the Corner, Save it for a Rainy Day", Karl Horst Hödicke, "Sirenen", Sophie Calle, "The Detachment", Marwan, "Großer Kopf",

Early Bourgeous Revolution

I was most impressed by "Frühbürgerliche Revolution in Deutschland/Early Bourgeous Revolution in Germany" by Werner Tübke (I am planning a special post on this gorgeous painting) a five part painting which blends impressions from a medieval peasant rebellion with science fiction elements. Gorgeous!

Contrary to that I find Damien Hirst´s spot painting "Pharmaceutic Wall Painting, Five Blacks" rather boring and "pointless". But, who am I? Hedge fund managers, oil sheiks and other billionaires are happy to pay millions of dollars for such an industrial product. I put it at the end of my pictures collection, just for your information.

                                  Anna & Bernhard Blume, "Küchenkoller/Kitchen Rage

                                         Jeff Koons, "New Shop-Vac Wet/Dry"
                                Anselm Kiefer, "Mohn und Gedächtnis/Poppy and Memory"
                                              Keith Haring, "Untitled"
                                         Nam June Paik, "I never read Wittgenstein"
                                Damien Hirst, Pharmaceutic Wall Painting, Five Blacks

Let the pictures speak form themselves. Enjoy. But you should hurry. At end of this year the museum will be closed for 4 years because of reconstructions.

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