East Germany Arts Part II

However, the openings of cultural policy are accompanied by new limitations and restrictions. In 1976 the dissident singer and poet W. Biermann was deprived of citizenship. The alternative artistic environment, under Penck’s leadership, solidarizes. It is the sign of a stronger resurgence of opposition, even in art, which forces those responsible for culture on the one hand to reconsider the inclusion of abstract painting and to confront Western art of action (J. Beuys, W. Vostell), on the other hand, however, also to have the exhibitions organized on the initiative of the artists closed by the police. In the latter, a new figurative and expressive impulse is announced which, in opposition to the demand for an objectivism of social relevance, places individual subjectivity as the starting point of artistic activity (H. Giebe, b. 1953; A. Hampe, b. 1956; W. Libuda, b. 1950; W. Scheffler, b. 1956; H. Leiberg, b. 1954; R. Kerbach, b. 1956 ; C. Schleime, b. 1953). The first forms of land artand the first multimedia projects (E. Göschel, n.1943; K. Hermann, n.1938; L. Dammbeck, n.1948). This younger generation will find its official recognition in the 1980s.

The main inspirers of this awakening generation are isolated artists such as Germany Altenbourg, C. Claus (b. 1930), H. Ebersbach (b. 1940) and especially Penck in Dresden. Penck’s art – based on a universe of “ sociographic ” signs that analytically re-elaborates the contrasting social systems of East and West, their behavior patterns and their potential for violence, in a way that is far from realism descriptive – was known in the West even before the author’s expatriation in 1980. Towards the end of the 1970s, an increasing number of unofficial cultural spaces hosted officially banned artistic forms such as collagefrottage and assemblage. Penck’s works find their exhibition space in small galleries, mostly organized in private homes. The slogan of the cultural politics of the 1970s, Weite und Vielfalt, however, continues to exclude Penck and the young artists of the new ” violent ” trends.

According to Searchforpublicschools, the first opening took place in 1980, when in the exhibition Junge Künstler der DDR 1980 (“Young artists of the GDR 1980″) set up in Frankfurt on the Oder, the new ” violent ” painting of Dresden and Leipzig found space for the first time.. In the same year, however, in reaction to the weakening of the consensus of younger artists, but also to the political situation in Poland, the Association of Artists again imposed a more rigid return to the directives of cultural policy, leading to the expatriation of Penck and, subsequently, by a number of artists of the younger generation.

At the beginning of the 1980s, artistic initiatives intensified in sectors not recognized by the cultural bureaucracy, and which marked a break with traditional figurative categories: performances, actions, installations. Alternative art also finds its own space in churches, which have become the aggregation center of social dissent. Centers of these activities are Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin. Even in 1984, the Association of Artists was unable to accept the new experiments carried out in the field of conceptual art. The middle generation (Tübke, Metzkes, Gille, Sitte and others) still recognize themselves in socialist realism. When Beuys wants to organize an ” action ” in the GDR together with the oriental artist E. Monden (b. 1947), he is refused entry permit. The exhibition Junge Künstler der DDR 1984, on the other hand, welcomes the works of some ” violent ” painters, but excludes experimental artistic production as before. Leipziger Herbstsalon, an unauthorized exhibition that the cultural bureaucracy can no longer prevent, a group of artists from Leipzig exhibited in 1984 ” violent ” painting, installations and actions, closely linked to each other. In 1985 the exhibition was declared counter-revolutionary. The conflict between cultural bureaucracy and alternative art is so acute that many young artists see their situation as hopeless and decide to expatriate to the West.

At the same time, the first signs of change are emerging. In the exhibition for the fortieth anniversary of the destruction of Dresden, assemblages and installations are exhibited for the first time in a large official event, which by their force of scenic suggestion go beyond traditional painting. An exhibition in the Altes Museum in Berlin also formalizes the neo-expressionist current, placing it, however, in a relationship of immediate continuity with socialist realism. A two-day happeningIntermedia I, organized in Dresden, with artists, punk musicians, super8 films and performances, on the other hand, ends with penal sanctions for the organizers. Again, in Dresden, the 10th GDR art exhibition in 1987 reveals a conservative conception behind which an almost defensive stiffening transpires. However, the contrast between the country’s artistic life and this official display of socialist realism is so gross that strongly critical voices are raised from the very ranks of aligned art critics.

In 1988 an exhibition was organized in Berlin which presented Beuys’ works for the first time in the GDR, while the exhibition Figur = Zeichen in Cottbus offers a summary panorama of the expressive and experimental artistic scene of Germany Orientale. In the same year, experimental art finally found recognition on the part of those responsible for cultural policy. The 10th Congress of the Association of Artists, in reaction to the criticisms made at the 10th exhibition, establishes that art forms that go beyond the limits of the traditional categories of the work of art must be not only tolerated, but favored as expressions relevant to the development of socialist art. The number of exhibitions presenting GDR art in the West is growing, particularly in West Berlin (Zeitvergleich ’88. 13 Maler aus der DDR, 1988; Zwischenspiele., 1989). By now installations, experimental photographic compositions, abstract and ” violent ” painting have a hegemonic part.

After the opening of the Berlin Wall (9 November 1989), the artists of the eastern Germany begin to exhibit in the western Germany and in western Berlin, coming into contact with the western artistic environment.

East Germany Arts 2