Can there be art after Auschwitz? German artists contended with this difficult question in various ways.

1945 - 1980

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Bernd and Hilla Becher, <em>Water Towers</em>, 1988
Bernd and Hilla Becher, Water Towers, 1988

The Bechers captured industrial forms with stunning austerity and incredible consistency.

An interview with Anselm Kiefer
An interview with Anselm Kiefer

SFMOMA talks with German artist Anselm Kiefer about exploring the past and materials in his work

Gerhard Richter, <em>September</em>
Gerhard Richter, September

Richter revives the genre of history painting in the 21st century in this work showing the events of 9/11.

Gerhard Richter, The Cage Paintings (1-6)
Gerhard Richter, The Cage Paintings (1-6)

John Cage and Richter never met, but there was a kinship between these two artists with diverse practices.

Gerhard Richter, <em>Betty</em>
Gerhard Richter, Betty

Hyperreal paintings like “Betty” are just one part of Richter’s practice, which resists stylistic classification.

Joseph Beuys, <em>Table with Accumulator (Tisch mit Aggregat)</em>
Joseph Beuys, Table with Accumulator (Tisch mit Aggregat)

We’re sick with the illness of the 20th century, and only a clay-powered wooden battery thing can help.

Joseph Beuys, <em>Fat Chair</em>
Joseph Beuys, Fat Chair

Beuys understood his art as a way to heal post-WWII Germany, but that may not be readily apparent from this work.

Joseph Beuys, <em>Celtic +∿∿∿∿</em> and Conceptual Performance
Joseph Beuys, Celtic +∿∿∿∿ and Conceptual Performance

Beuys believed that every human being had the potential to be both creative and Christlike.

Anselm Kiefer, <em>Shulamite</em>
Anselm Kiefer, Shulamite

In this canvas, Kiefer transformed architecture meant to honor Nazi heros into a memorial for their victims.

Sigmar Polke, <em>Watchtower</em> series
Sigmar Polke, Watchtower series

Cheap fabric with a garish print becomes an eerie specter of surveillance thanks to some creative chemistry.

Sigmar Polke, <em>Bunnies</em>
Sigmar Polke, Bunnies

Hugh Hefner turned women into objects, and Sigmar Polke turned those objects into dots.

Gerhard Richter, <em>Uncle Rudi</em>
Gerhard Richter, Uncle Rudi

Richter toys with both visual and ethical clarity in this evocative, ambiguous painting of an uncle lost to WWII.

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