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30.8.05

What's New, German Painting?

What are painters up to in Germany? I'm certainly not listening to much live classical music these days, so my mind is turning to this sort of question. The Carré d'Art - Musée d'art contemporain, Sir Norman Foster's glass box facing the famous Roman temple in the southern French town of Nîmes, is showing an exhibit called La nouvelle peinture allemande (New German Painting), through September 18. Philippe Dagen reviewed it recently (Exposition : une nouvelle génération de peintres allemands, August 18) for Le Monde (my translation):

There is no one style that defines this group, no more than there was for that which preceded it. The distance that separated the photographic realism of Gerhard Richter from Immendorf's burlesque narrations is no smaller than what separates the Eberhard Havekost's video-like realism from the Jonathan Meese's canvases covered with words and strokes, seeded with blots and obscene graffiti. This diversity is ultimately stupefying [since] each artist works in an individual way. [...] If each artist has his own personal stock of influences, the exhibit could be seen, as a whole, as an inventory where Romanticism, figural and abstract expressionism, art brut, monochrome, Pop Art, Guston, Katz, Matisee, and Cranach are given homage in turn. And let's not forget movies, television, advertising, digital imagery. Painting functions here like a terrifying energetic machine, absorbing, destroying, recycling, recomposing images of vastly different origins.
The museum's Web site has a few small images, but you should also check out the French blogger behind Leary Calls, who posted on this exhibit on August 9, with several great images. See also Annick Colonna-Césari, Lever de rideau sur l'Allemagne (L'Express, July 25).

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