Auction Talk Germany: Art history in the making
Protesting to keep the Berlin Wall intact in 2013? That’s exactly what happened when art lovers gathered to preserve the open-air East Side Gallery, a remaining section of the Berlin Wall covered with politically intriguing murals. A portion of the gallery wall was to be removed to make a pathway for a luxury apartment complex to be built on the banks of the Spree River.
Following a March 18 meeting between borough mayor and real estate developer, it was announced that while construction would go on as planned, existing openings in the wall would be used to bring in construction equipment.
The Berlin Wall, erected in 1961 and opened in 1989, is a magnet for tourists as well as lovers of street art. The nearly mile-long East Side Gallery portion was painted in 1990 by 118 artists from 21 countries. Included among its famous art works is the mural Fraternal Kiss depicting Lenonid Brezhnev, chairman of the presidium of the Supreme Soviet (1964-1982) of the former USSR, and Erich Honecker, former chairman of the State Council of the GDR (1976-1989).
Another well-loved figure from former East Germany, the painter and graphic artist Willi Sitte, 92, has a new exhibit of his works opening at his own gallery in Merseburg near Halle (River Saale). His paintings and graphic works of social realism are identifiable by their muscular human figures and a prismatic use of light and color that play over solidly outlined surfaces. Sitte was president of the artists’ union in the GDR (Verbandes Bildender Künstler), and received numerous awards. His work can be viewed at www.willi-sitte-galerie-merseburg.de
A fellow artist from eastern Germany, painter Neo Rauch, 53, has experienced success of which most painters can only dream. His work has already broken the million dollar mark, when his painting Suche was auctioned at Christie’s New York in 2004 for $1,082,500. A retrospective of his paintings titled “Neo Rauch: The Obsession of the Demiurge” is currently on display at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, also known as Bozar Expo, in Brussels.
Rauch’s oversize canvases have a way of pulling you into their world of juxtaposed frenetic activity and loneliness; his vast expanses become a meeting place for characters of the past, present and future. Curator Harald Kunde has complemented this experience by arranging the work in the exhibit from 2012 to 1993. So visitors time travel through Rauch’s complex style, back to its simpler beginnings as one of the Neue Leipziger Schule painters. Rauch’s work is on display at the Bozar through May 19.
In Vienna, Galerie OstLicht opens an exhibit of photographs by Hellen van Meene on April 13. The Netherland-born photographer documents the fragility and impressionability of young girls on their way to womanhood. Her carefully composed shots expose an intuitive communication with her subjects, be they girls or in her new series of photos, dogs. The Ost Licht exhibit runs through June 15.
Art collectors have already marked their calendars for Art Basel, in Basel, Switzerland, June 13-16. This enormous show and sale offers artwork from 304 international galleries, from early 20th century classic modern to contemporary. For details visit www.artbasel.com
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