Raphael Rubinstein investigates the "near total erasure" of Neo-Expressionism.
Rubinstein writes: "Chia, Cucchi, Clemente, Mariani, Baselitz, Lüpertz, Middendorf, Fetting, Penck, Kiefer, Schnabel . . . these and other artists are engaged not (as is frequently claimed by critics who find mirrored in this art their own frustration with the radical art of the present) in the recovery and reinvestment of tradition, but rather in declaring its bankruptcy—specifically, the bankruptcy of the modernist tradition. Everywhere we turn today the radical impulse that motivated modernism—its commitment to transgression—is treated as the object of parody and insult. What we are witness- ing, then, is the wholesale liquidation of the entire modernist legacy."
He concludes: "Maybe we shouldn’t be so certain about who won the Neo-Ex vs. Pictures Generation bout. Lately, I’ve sensed MFA students responding to the oeuvres of Sherman and Prince with yawns or sneers, but when I bring up Schnabel their curiosity awakens. Could it be that, 30 years on, we are once again ready to take up 'The Expressionism Question?' "
De Jong writes: "Penck’s visual consistency holds at bay, through its humorous and unvaried insistence on form, mark and depiction, the restrictions Western ideology has placed on them—albeit socialist or capitalist. Penck’s paintings first denigrated the grey narrowness of communist Germany using limited but direct paint application. Now, two decades after the collapse of the socialist experiment in the west, Penck subverts the polychromatic constrictions of 21st Century capitalism using jazzed up color but a no less equally direct confrontational approach."
Photo blog of installation images from an exhibition of paintings by A.R. Penck at Cardi Black Box, Milan, on view through November 30, 2012.
This exhibition surveys the development of Penck's work. "Inspired by prehistoric paintings, his compositions combine pictorial signs and archaic images, composing a universal lexicon – comprehensible and usable by everybody – and an original visual world, that often have as its central theme the relationship between person and society."
The centerpiece of the exhibition is an immense 20 x 40 foot canvas, Me in Germany (West), 1984, "a work that Penck painted non-stop in 35 hours... the piece is not simply about a society, it's about a whole culture and existing in it, about sex and power, politics and church, life and death - aspects that he joins up with great daring"
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.