Like other countries, even in Germany there is no unitary manifestation or in any case the clear domination of a given stylistic trend. Indeed, very different trends and directions coexist, on the one hand reflecting the great international diversification, on the other hand highlighting the characteristic of European traditions, whose experience has its own physiognomy even with respect to movements that would seem comparable (see for example the realism versus American photorealism). Nonetheless, it would be a mistake, if from this one were to deduce, for German art, a commitment valid only on a national level. On the contrary, it is only a construction material aimed at the international stage.
A direct conjunction with the thematic and figurative traditions of the early twentieth century is present in artists as diverse as B. Schultze (b. 1915) and P. Wunderlich (b. 1927) in whose work, below of the individual characters, a common surrealist background transpires: in one, in the abstract universe of putrescence colors of the Migofs (see below), in the other in the elegantly draped figures on a dark background, in a fin de siècle aura. In another way, K. Klapheck’s (b.1935) connection to surrealism is realized, whose constant, very varied theme is a world of machines magically rendered alien, projected towards a fetishism of the object, often stylized to the to become disturbing.
Near this address, the Zero groupof Düsseldorf (1957-67) with H. Mack (b. in 1931), O. Piene (b. in 1928) and Germany Uecker (b. in 1930), made a significant contribution to the international theme of op-art. Magazines with a broad international base have dealt with it extensively. Mack’s rotorilights, Piene’s fire-paintings, as well as Uecker’s nail-objects, are directed, as well as other manifestations in the decade 1955-65, essentially towards the experience of light and its artistic sensitization. They are works that, on the one hand, are linked to projects such as those of Y. Klein and L. Fontana, but which, on the other hand, have created both the artistic and theoretical basis for a general thematic of light and vision, so as it was created by numerous artists of the same current. Over the years, Germany von Graevenitz (b. In 1934) H.
In relation to all this, one of the most stimulating and personal artists of these years, R. Geiger (b. In 1908) occupies a particular position; his paintings, with a clearly articulated surface, quadrangular, or later, circular fields of color, on a contrasting chromatic base, are not placed, on the one hand, far from the intentions of op-art, due to their well-calculated “irritation of perception “, but they remain unequivocally in the sphere of painting for the determination of heat which is qualitative and not quantitative. A conception that will later be carried on by younger artists, albeit considerably varied, while remaining recognizable in the structure. This is the case, among others, with K. Gonschior and A. Mavignier (b. 1925), who undertake experiments with luminous colors.
What sensitivity could contemporary painting reach in the thematic researches of color, often pushed almost to monochrome – see the international anthological exhibitions Geplante Malerei, in the Kunstverein in Münster in Westphalia (1974) and Fundamentale Schilder Kunst in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1975) – first of all reveals the work of important artists such as Germany Graubner (b. 1930) and R. Girke (b. 1930); the first with the vaporous and delicate chromatic scale of his three-dimensional paintings, obtained by constructing compositions of canvas filled with polyester (Kissenbilder, cushion paintings), the second with the delicate gradation of the white binding of his paintings or with the multifaceted, sometimes fascinating shades of color in his watercolors.
A central impulse during the 1960s up to the early 1970s is directed against the suggestion of easel painting. The attempt, in the continuation of the tradition-object as well as in its decomposition into a happening, action and ritual, in Germany, after W. Vostell (b. 1932) was even more exalted by J. Beuys (b. 1921). His works – grease sculptures, compositions of different objects (a cylindrical glass and a telephone together with a mound of grease on a table), felt plates one on top of the other, covered with a copper foil – are more than l expression of refusal is an indication of a radical extension of the concept of art. At first still stable objects in themselves, they become, after the beginning of the 1960s, more and more objects of action of magically structured rituals: it is not only an extension of the concept of art, but at the same time a polemical gesture against dominance. of a unilaterally defined logic and the blind belief in science. A concept that increasingly leads to politics and that H. Haacke radicalized in socio-economic questionnaires: efforts that also in other countries try to define art as a political tool. Other artists of this sphere, meanwhile oriented towards the political field as much as towards the analysis of primary behavioral models and structures through demonstrations, are K. Rinke and HE Walther.
Far more difficult to define is the position of the artobject creator R. Ruthenbeck or the painter Palermo. Ruthenbeck conceives her objects, expressly without a formal program, from stretched or suspended cloths, from materials such as piles of ash, in which a piece of barbed wire is embedded. Objects of silence and expression of a fundamentally meditative attitude, which could also characterize in the most appropriate way the figurative intention of Palermo: a colored triangle on a light surface, runic forms with indefinite meanings; barely modulated color planes.
Alternatively attributed to the circle of conceptual art or confined to the sphere of the English movement Art and Language is H. Darboven, whose systematic numerical series, calculated rigorously, yet leaving the viewer free, are united by method and imagination: demonstration of the abstract structure of reality.
Richter (b. In 1932) refers directly to the relationship of contemplation, reality and its mediation – within the discussion around realism widely spread today – with his intentionally “blurred” paintings, which intervene on photographic models of banal obviousness, with landscapes that intentionally irritate traditional figurative schemes: the stereotype instead of the directly experienced event. Not the object itself, but its representation becomes a subject. This conception is clearly opposed to the Zebra group’s interpretation of realism, founded in 1965 in Hamburg by D. Asmus, P. Nagel, D. Ullrich and N. Störtenbecker. Even if, at least at the beginning, their works were derived from photographs, the inappropriate banality of a stereotypical image is not questioned. On the other hand, the mediating precision of the objective is much more fascinating, which is pictorially stylized in a way that corresponds, on a historical level, to the coldness of the “new objectivity” (Neue Sachlichkeit), and in actuality to the lack of participation and indifference of the reportage.
Artists such as H. Antes and Germany Baselitz are involved in a newly different conception of palpable reality, linked to a specific German tradition, without however leaving the current problematic. On the contrary, the experience of expressionism is projected into the current context in an absolutely individual and sometimes provocative way. It is the affirmation of the figure handed down by painting, symbolic and at the same time one-sided (man and landscape in a specific subjectivity), which threatens to be gradually lost. With these principles, this position is distinctly different from that, which is usually defined, in a very broad sense, of the Berliner Realismus: the aggressive social criticism, often formulated in an angular, sometimes caricatural way by the Patick, Sorge and Grützke.
The scene of plastic creation is equally articulated in an equally pluralistic way, even if in its quantitative importance, pure sculpture now goes back in Germany to the position of art-object, of demonstrative experiments as well as of the dispute over the realism of painting. As there, here too it is possible, with the necessary exemplification, to identify two dominants, as the direct confrontation with contemporary themes is once again close to the abstract formulation. The current link with the past does not exclude the progressive project in an alternative way. On the borderline between sculpture and object are fixed those colored sculptures by B. Schultze, called by him Migof, as well as the Caissons by HE Kalinowski (b. 1924). The former are composed of various found objects, joined together in fantastic shapes by means of barbed wire and artificial resin and poisonously shine in colors that recall rottenness and putrefaction; the Caissons, on the other hand, covered with graffitied leather, have large surfaces, and appear as large wooden crates quietly arranged in compositions that consciously emanate a magically ritual “aura”.
Clearly W. Loth belongs to the sphere of sculpture. Despite the forms under which his individual works appear, these are based on foundations of classical conceptions, in the opposition between the plinth, in which fields of tensions and pauses alternate, and the forms that rise above them, which are richly moved in contrasting directions. Alongside these we could put the sculptures of J. Hiltmann, since they too, with all the difference that a similar problem entails, are informed by the polarity of the constructive and the organic; spheres, for example, in which deep gashes and rump-like plastics open.
The sculptures of F. Bernhard, W. Reichhold, D. Brigfeld or even of Germany Haese (b. In 1924), the most famous internationally, can be classified with less clarity. Here we are dealing in part with formally oriented spatial signs, a sort of varied continuation of the sculpture of A. Caro; of fantastic figurative inventions, of fortress-like formations built with slabs or, in Haese, of the vibratory movement of the delicate spring element mechanisms.
According to allunitconverters, the work of E. Hauser and NE Hermanns characterizes another sector of German sculpture of international significance. Starting from constructivist experiences, their work presents a reduced set of geometric shapes, which, especially by Hermanns, is no longer conceived in a composite way, but uniform and equivalent. Another current deals exclusively with studies on the form and meaning of industrial models, which lead in part to aesthetically abstract works, in part to distantly objective critical works: H. Salentin, J. Bandau, R. Glesmeier, F. Gräsel ; talents that correspond in all senses to the international concept. In a rather realistic relationship, J. Schmettau and U. Rückreim still belong to it for a very individual variant, worked in stone, of minimal art. A specific formation of the additive principle of the minimal conception is represented by the plate series by K. Th. Lenk and by the constructions by E. Herich.
In the dispute over architecture in Germany the problem of moving away from a misunderstood functionalism, which should necessarily be replaced by individual models, is increasingly acute. The question is felt more and more urgent in relation above all to the problem of both the rehabilitation of the city – in particular with regard to the historical-architectural material – and the planning of new urban districts. This discussion intensified in concrete form in the 1950s and 1960s, around the design work and buildings still dominated by overt functionalism.
Here we recall R. Hillebrecht, H. Deilmann (JF Kennedy School Center, Duisburg, 1966-69), E. Eiermann (Headquarters of the Neckermann company, Frankfurt, 1958-60; German pavilion at the Brussels Expo, 1958, in coll. with S. Ruf; Gedächtniskirche, Berlin, 1959-63, in coll. with R. Wiest) and the Luckardt brothers (Wassili and Hans, who died in 1954), who remained faithful to the rationalist language of the 1920s (pavilion of the city of Berlin at building exhibition in Hanover, 1951; houses in line at the Interbau in Berlin, 1958, in collaboration with H. Hoffmann). This was soon opposed by the works of H. Scharoun (Neue Philarmonie in Berlin, 1963), P. Schneider-Esleben (Offices of the publishing house Stimme der Zert, Munich 1966; Cologne-Bonn Airport, 1966-70) and of the architectural firm H. Hentrich and H. Petschnigg (Ruhr University, Bochum, 1966-70), as well as the creations of Germany Böhm (Catholic Sanctuary, Neviges, 1966-68 ; town hall of Bensberg, 1967; children’s village “Bethany”, Bensberg, 1966-68), works all at the center of lively discussions. In the field of technical-engineering constructions, F. Otto has been highlighted for some time, at an international level, with his numerous and complex surfaces and experimental structures of “envelopes” such as the roof of the German pavilion at Expo ’67 in Montreal and that of the Munich Olympic Stadium (1972).