German Art in the 20th Century

We had a lecture on German artists and an artist which was mentioned was Anselm Kiefer. Kiefer’s artwork that was discussed was a piece called “Markische Heide” (Mark Heath). For this piece he used Mud and scraping in to it on a canvas. He was born at the end of the second world war into the world where Germany was reduced to a pile of rubble, this I believe is why he used mud and soil in his painting. He was influenced by the Romanticism movement and looking at the sublime which you can’t possibly describe reminding us about our humanity. Anselm looked at mythology and looked at the old romantic painters trying to find a language in which to reflect on the past and overcome it.

The understanding of myths and the unknown help us come to terms with our own fragility. His painting of “Markische Heide” is very large as if it is standing in for nature. He says “Over your cities grass will grow making useless and disfunctional cities apocalyptic.” This statement is about the sublime and still has a romantic idea questioning significances and insignificances to the world.

Another artist we looked at was Georg Baselitz. The piece of his work that was shown was called “Nachtessen in Dresden” (supper in Dresden). This piece was not about representation but about what you are making. He was born in 1938, his family emigrated to West Berlin. The Nation of Germany had been completely destroyed in a way to show this he had to destroy his paintings with acidic colours.

Baselitz didn’t want to follow the formal abstraction so he painted upside down to free his subject matter and recreated it producing his own image heavily referencing post Romantics. The piece “Nachtessen in Dresden”is portraits of the artists who played a main role in the expressionist movement. This piece is a portrait of artists like Kiefer, Munch, Heckel and Ludwig and showing all the main expressionist artists together. Baselitz is, I believe was trying to flip reality to make a divorce from Nazi Germany.


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