Postwar European art

Germany

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

1945 - 1980

videos + essays

We're adding new content all the time!

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>Feet Washing</em> and Conceptual Performance
Joseph Beuys, Feet Washing 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.

Selected Contributors | Germany