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Colloquium Series - Anna-Carola Krausse "Alternative Horizons. GDR Art in the Shadow of Socialist Realism"

Friday, March 27, 2015
4:00 AM
MLB 3308

This talk explores overlooked and forgotten positions in East German art that did not conform to the state doctrine of “socialist realism.” During the first two decades of the GDR, artists whose works drew on the formal languages of classical modernism (expressionism, cubism, surrealism) were branded as “formalist,” “Western decadent,” or “cosmopolitan.” They were all but excluded from public collections. To this day, their exclusion has left its traces in our perception of GDR art. Because they were underrepresented in museums and galleries at the time, these artists’ works also failed to be represented in surveys on GDR art in the wake of unification after 1990. Consequently, they still remain largely in private collections, are owned by the artists themselves, or form part of privately managed estates. And yet, as Krausse shows, by returning to these overlooked and forgotten works, we stand to gain new perspectives on unknown aspects of art production in the early GDR, forcing us to adjust received notions of Cold War GDR culture. Based on selected case studies, Krausse demonstrates the breadth of stylistic means through which non-conformist GDR artists employed sought to maintain aesthetic autonomy during the 1950s and 1960s. It was precisely their always precarious aesthetic obstinacy, Krausse argues, that prepared the ground for a new generation of artists who, after 1971 and in the wake of Erich Honecker’s notions of “breadth and variety” in art, were able to develop an unprecedented breadth of stylistic approaches.

The presentation will be in German.