By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Here’s a Baselitz painting. It’s called Picture for the Fathers. It’s a pretty gruesome picture and it’s, again, about this challenging of the father generation. Schönebeck, he fell by the wayside. He and Baselitz were really close, worked closely together and then Baselitz’s star took off and Schönebeck just kind of got left behind, and he stopped painting. He still lives in Berlin and he’s an amazing man. He was an amazing painter.
This is early Penck, it’s just the perfect Cold War picture. You’ve got the East and the West. It’s a painting called World View from the early ’60s. Remember, he didn’t leave Dresden and the East until 1980, so he was caught between two worlds. You read this now a little differently after seeing the Uncle Rudi picture, and this is Schönebeck [Majakowski (Mayakovski) (1965)].
That’s such a beautiful painting [of Mayakovski].
It’s an amazing picture. Kippenberger, we’re talking about Kippenberger [and Schönebeck’s influence on him]. It’s a really interesting painting.
This one here is Lüpertz [Helm I (Helmet I) (1970)], and again, it’s a picture about the military and the loss of honor and the destruction. It’s only the next generation, which is Kiefer, who begins to then reference the Holocaust. This [opposing] wall are all the artists who stayed in the East, dealing with some of the same topics. While in the West there was this notion of “de-Nazifying” the former Nazis in the ’50s, that didn’t happen in East Germany because the sense was the whole country was founded on a kind of antifascism so that there weren’t Nazis there.
So there wasn’t quite as much angst in a way.
There wasn’t as much angst and there wasn’t the same sense of guilt. But these works by [Werner] Tübke [Lebenserinnerungen des Fr. Jur. Schulze III (Reiminiscinces of Schulze, JD III) (1965)], again one of the more celebrated of the official artists, take a kind of more metaphorical way. Here he comes up with this imaginary judge called Dr. Schulze, who presides over this garden of unearthly delights with all of these references to the camps and the torture and the Nazi uniforms — in a more coded way. It’s not as in your face, because that would not have been acceptable, and [he was] still criticized for doing this in the East. Or someone like [Wolfgang] Mattheuer [Kain (Cain) (1965)], who uses the biblical story of Cain and Abel to reference the ...
... the East-West .?
Yeah, exactly. But, again, they have to find other ways than being super direct. So it just kind of challenges our preconceptions.
[Heading into room 6.]
This is a big show!
Well, it’s two countries, two art histories, close to 50 years. It’s a lot, and it’s trying to make it into a comprehensible exhibition so it’s hard. Beuys is certainly one of the most celebrated of the postwar figures, and, in a way, one thinks of him now as not only just a maker of objects but really someone who was so involved in kind of social action. This, for instance, [Joseph Beuys, Ausfegen (Sweeping Up) (1972-85)] is a sweeping up after a May Day celebration in West Berlin in 1972. So we have a video of the sweeping up and then this is the detritus that was collected. I think by having the video, one begins to understand him as a social motivator, these social sculptures. Then on the other side is this almost size-specific work by Thomas Schütte [Große Mauer (Large Wall) (1977)], very early work, when he was still a student of Gerhard Richter’s. It’s like they’re little Richter paintings and they sit rather precariously on these two little pins. From a distance it looks like this great wall.
Beautiful, beautiful piece. So continuing in the ’60s and ’70s, Baselitz, [Jörg] Immendorff, Penck. Some of the Baselitz hero pictures again, dealing with soldiers wandering around at the end of the war trying to kind of find a kind of new land. These are Penck sculptures when he was still in Dresden from the early ’70s, working with found materials as well. It’s fascinating from looking around that the abstract work in this room comes from the East, which again, is not what one would expect. These are Glöckner’s, our guy from several rooms ago, 1975, pretty beautiful.
A close friend of his in Dresden was Achim Freyer, who is now in Los Angeles directing The Ring. He was a visual artist in Dresden. So when I installed this, he came to me and he said, “Oh, I love you. You put me back next to my friend Glöckner.” Somebody came to me the night of the opening and said, “Oh, [Glöckner] must have been looking at Agnes Martin.” I said, “Not only didn’t he know Agnes Martin, [but] he’d never seen [her work].” He said, “Well, he could have seen it in Art Forum.” I said, “He would have been imprisoned for having a copy of Art Forum! This is an early [Jörg] Immendorff, which was quite political, and here he’s taking on Vostell as an artist [Deutsche Künstler: Vostell (German Artists: Vostell) (1975)].