Texts by Tilo Baumgärtel, Rudij Bergmann, Michaël Borremans, Holger Broeker, Markus Brüderlin, Wolfgang Büscher, Hartwig Ebersbach, Robert Fleck, Werner Hofmann, Harald Kunde, Ulf Küster, Petra Lewey, Ulrike Lorenz, Rosa Loy, Felicity Lunn, Jonathan Meese, Daniel Richter, Hans-Werner Schmidt, Bernhart Schwenk, Barbara Steiner, Tim Sommer, Uwe Tellkamp, Gary Tinterow, Luc Tuymans, and Klaus Werner
When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the artist Neo Rauch was 30 years old, living in his East German hometown of Leipzig and just beginning to exhibit his paintings. It was the perfect moment for a painter who had been reared on Social Realism to gain access to art outside East Germany, to receive its influences into his art, and to emerge onto the stage of world art as a star. At first closely identified with the generation of painters known as the Leipzig School, in recent years Rauch’s wonderfully bizarre blend of Social Realism (not exactly a widely-mined style in contemporary art) with de Chirico or Stanley Spencer has come to be seen as a painterly barometer of post-Communist Europe. “Post-Communist Surrealism” could therefore be one way to describe the look of his canvases, which convey narrative intent–men and women from various historical eras performing obscure tasks in uniform, or midway through some ominous occasion–shifting styles several times within the same picture, but always displaying a lush brushwork. Rauch has established a particularly strong audience in the U.S., having been championed byThe New York Times‘s Roberta Smith asthe painter of the zeitgeist.
Neo Rauch: Paintings was published on the occasion of the artist’s first major museum retrospective in 2010, jointly held at the Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig and the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, which featured a comprehensive overview of works dating from 1982 to 2010. Designed as a turn-around book with two front covers, one for each of the venues of this two-part exhibition, this catalogue includes a number of contributions by Rauch’s long-time colleagues, including fellow artists Michaël Borremans, Hartwig Ebersbach, Jonathan Meese, and Luc Tuymans; art critics and historians, such as Rudij Bergmann and Werner Hofmann; and museum directors, such as Markus Brüderlin, Robert Fleck, and Klaus Werner. Also included are extensive essays by Hans-Werner Schmidt, Bernhart Schwenk, and Uwe Tellkamp.