from top: Wilhelm Lachnit, "Gliederpuppe", 1948, © Erbengemeinschaft von Max und Wilhem Lachnit; Georg Baselitz, Der Hirte, 1966, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/Georg Baselitz, Foto: Ch. Schwager; Harald Metzkes, Abtransport der sechsarmigen Göttin, 1956, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011, Foto: Klaus Göken; Andy Warhol, Big Electric Chair, 1967, © Artists rights society, New York; Al Held, The Big A, 1962, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011, Foto: Jörg P. Anders
This is the common state of knowledge: German postwar art took two directions - east and west. As the Berlin-based Neue Nationalgalerie owns one of the biggest collections of DDR art, their current exhibit "Divided Heaven" ("Der geteilte Himmel") intends to juxtapose the development of both sides - balancing, questioning and comparing the museum's permanent collection. The title is borrowed by a novel, written by the east German author Christa Wolf, and it promises a strong agenda: east vs. west. The first room still keeps the promise, by spatially confronting the "abstract west" (left side) and the "figurative east" (right side). Historically seen, this is an interesting comparison, however drawing a very high 'wall' between the two. I felt that this separation was a bit dull. Some works, as Wilhelm Lachnit's "Gliederpuppe", are introduced as an eastern step to abstraction, suggesting that socialistic realism wasn't the only thing they did.
So far so good. The next rooms become more and more confusing, as it turns out that international art works (paintings by Francis Bacon, Pop-prints by Andy Warhol and Sigmar Polke, minimalist works by Al Held) are competing with figurative paintings by DDR-artists, such as Harald Metzkes and Werner Tübke. Metzkes and Tübke created stunning pieces, yet their art perishes in comparison to the western art-stars. Curiosity is evoked, when looking at Baselitz' "Hirte", which doesn't seem to fit in any of the categories suggested by the museum.
"Divided Heaven" chronologically teaches about historical post-war art, but simultaneously it makes one wonder: why would the exhibition's concept make DDR-art appear so insignificant, when this is exactly the opposite of what they promised to do?
Der geteilte Himmel. 1945 - 1968. Die Sammlung.
until spring 2013
Potsdamer Straße 50
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm, Thursday until 10pm
Werner Tübke, Lebenserinnerungen des Dr. jur. Schulze (III), 1965, © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2011 / Foto: Jörg P. Anders; Renato Guttuso, Die rote Wolke,1966, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011, Foto: Roman März; Installation view, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Foto: Roman März; Sigmar Polke, Dublin, 1968, © The Estate of Sigmar Polke / VG Bild- Kunst, Bonn 2011, Foto: Jörg P. Anders