November 17, 2018 – February 2, 2020

Artists from the GDR

Works from the Museum Barberini Collection
Between the GDR’s foundation in 1949 and German unification in 1990, the friction between government efforts to co-opt art and artists’ attempts to preserve their autonomy gave rise to a tremendous artistic diversity. Those forty years of the GDR also witnessed big changes in living conditions and political priorities, constraints and room for manoeuvre. But while the State kept trying to wield the ideological stick, artists negotiated their own personal pathways between compliance, obstinacy and downright opposition.

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Photo: Helge Mundt, © Museum Barberini
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One focus of the Museum Barberini’s collection is on paintings by artists from the former East Germany. With the current presentation of the collection, Artists from the GDR, the Museum invites visitors to rediscover important artistic approaches to the GDR. The current theme Modern History Painting presents mythological, literary and religious themes with paintings by Gudrun Brüne, Ulrich Hachulla, Rolf Händler, Bernhard Heisig, Johannes Heisig, Walter Libuda, Werner Liebmann, Harald Metzkes, Arno Rink, Willi Sitte, and Werner Tübke. These groups of motifs, however, did not serve to glorify depictions of the state’s own history, as demanded by the authorities. Instead, the artists used these themes often as starting points for personal reflections or visualizations of universally human issues. Even after the dissolution of the GDR, many painters continued to work with these subjects, carrying on the tradition of modern history painting.

Three further thematic shows will be presented from October 26 at the Museum Barberini: Aspects of the Pictorial, Melancholy, and Painting and Landscape.

A visit with Erika Stürmer-Alex

Erika Stürmer-Alex, born 1938 in Wriezen
Erika Stürmer-Alex worked in painting, print graphics, sculptures, and installations. She founded a community in Lietzen, Brandenburg, where artists could meet for creative experiments. She studied painting, graphic design, and art in architecture from 1958 to 1963 at the Berlin Weißensee Academy of Fine and Applied Arts, where her teachers were Herbert Behrens-Hangeler and Kurt Robbel. She began organizing plein air sessions at her community in 1982, and was also politically active. She founded Endmoräne, an association of female artists, in 1991.

 

Erika Stürmer-Alex, born 1938 in Wriezen
Erika Stürmer-Alex worked in painting, print graphics, sculptures, and installations. She founded a community in Lietzen, Brandenburg, where artists could meet for creative experiments. She studied painting, graphic design, and art in architecture from 1958 to 1963 at the Berlin Weißensee Academy of Fine and Applied Arts, where her teachers were Herbert Behrens-Hangeler and Kurt Robbel. She began organizing plein air sessions at her community in 1982, and was also politically active. She founded Endmoräne, an association of female artists, in 1991.

 

A visit with Hartwig Ebersbach

Hartwig Ebersbach, born 1940 in Zwickau
Hartwig Ebersbach, who began studying under Bernhard Heisig at the Leipzig College of Graphic Art and Book Illustration in 1959, created radically subjective art in his expressive oeuvre, goes so far as to split his artistic identity and take on an alter ego which he called Kaspar. From 1979 to 1983, he headed a course in experimental art at the Leipzig College of Graphic Art and Book Illustration, and was a member of the art group 37.2, which was devoted to experiments involving philosophy, psychology, cyberkinetics, and performance.

 

Hartwig Ebersbach, born 1940 in Zwickau
Hartwig Ebersbach, who began studying under Bernhard Heisig at the Leipzig College of Graphic Art and Book Illustration in 1959, created radically subjective art in his expressive oeuvre, goes so far as to split his artistic identity and take on an alter ego which he called Kaspar. From 1979 to 1983, he headed a course in experimental art at the Leipzig College of Graphic Art and Book Illustration, and was a member of the art group 37.2, which was devoted to experiments involving philosophy, psychology, cyberkinetics, and performance.