Ahnenbild 2411 2006 Oil on canvas 280 x 460 cm Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London © André Butzer , 2006
18th NOVEMBER 2011 – 30th APRIL 2012
On 18th November, the Saatchi Gallery will open Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany, the gallery’s first survey of German art. The exhibition, which presents artists from or based in Germany (including Berlin, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Bremen and Cologne), confirms Germany’s position as a powerhouse of European contemporary art.
Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany showcases 24 artists, most of whom have been little seen in the UK, but are rapidly establishing themselves in Germany and internationally. Their work, including sculpture, painting, drawing and installation, ranges from the grotesque and macabre to the lyrical and surreal, reflecting the diversity of German art now.
Perhaps best known for its Wagnerian associations, the word ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ can be translated as a total, ideal or universal work of art, or as a synthesis of different art forms into one all-embracing unique genre. As such, many works in this exhibition reflect on the boundaries of art, in terms of our perception of it and its relationship to other disciplines. If their work points to a new kind of Gesamtkunstwerk it is one in which high and low culture, the avant- garde and the historical, the everyday and everything in between can co-exist.
Running through the exhibition is an inherent reference to another quasi-Gesamtkunstwerk: the baggage of post- war German visual culture and the work of earlier generations of German artists, from the Expressionists to Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Martin Kippenberger, Rosemarie Trockel, Gerhard Richter and Franz West, with whom many of the artists in this exhibition seem to be in conversation.
Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany features a selection of works by Dirk Bell, Alexandra Bircken, André Butzer, Zhivago Duncan, Ida Ekblad, Max Frisinger, Isa Genzken, Felix Gmelin, Jeppe Hein, Thomas Helbig, Georg Herold, Volker Hueller, Thomas Kiesewetter, Jutta Koether, Friedrich Kunath, Stefan Kürten, Josephine Meckseper, Kirstine Roepstorff, Markus Selg, Gert and Uwe Tobias, Corinne Wasmuht, Andro Wekua and Thomas Zipp.