Prologue - German Informel Art

Opening Sep 16, 2017 Saturday 17:00
General Curators: Fan Di'an, Walter Smerling
Deputy General Curator: Yan Shijie
Organizers: Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V., Central Academy of Fine Arts
Artists: Peter Brüning, K.O. Götz, Gerhard Hoehme, Bernard Schultze, Emil Schumacher, Fred Thieler
Dates: September 16 - October 22 2017
Opening: September 16 2017, 17:00
Venue: Red Brick Art Museum
Organized by: Red Brick Art Museum
Supported by: Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Federal Republic of Germany
Main Sponsors: Volkswagen Group China, Air China Ltd., Air China Cargo Co., Ltd.
Allianz SE, Siemens AG, Würth Group, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Rheinmetall Group, Artron Art Group, KION GROUP AG, Weichai Power Co., Ltd., Art Home (Beijing) International Fine Arts Logistics Co., Ltd., Stiftung Mercator, Duisport Group, Fuchs Petrolub SE, Beijing Chuanbao Technology Development Co., Ltd., CHAO Art Center, Crowne Plaza Beijing Lido, Beijing Jinding Sculpture Art Co.,Ltd., Beijing Culture and Arts Fund

From September 16 to October 22, Red Brick Art Museum is proud to present Prologue - German Informel Art. This exhibition is an important part of Deutschland 8 - Deutsche Kunst in China, with Fan Di’an and Walter Smerling as the general curators and Yan Shijie, director of Red Brick Art Museum, as a deputy general curator. Prologue - German Informel Art focuses on the common traits of Informel, post-war Germany’s most important abstract art group, and the different explorations and choices these artists made as they confronted their personal artistic ideals.
The fundamental concept of Informel painting in Germany and Tachism in France liberated the artist from all the influences of his environment. Intellectually and emotionally inflected working methods facilitated the production of immediate, joyful, and positive images, which were able to be read and understood worldwide without any knowledge of iconography. In 1950s Germany, fierce philosophical and sociological debates were conducted on the position of art. Where does the freedom of art stand following the diktat of heroism and the degenerate art of the National Socialist era? Should artists liberate themselves from the reality of their surroundings or should they give an account of the world in realistic images? During this time, many painters abandoned any notions of realistic art at an early stage, and turned to abstraction. Informel art in Germany was born.

Museum Director's Greeting

Influenced by international Art Informel, German Informel defined the painting of a group of young artists in the 1950s and 1960s, forming an important school in post-war German art. This exhibition focuses on the common traits of Informel, post-war Germany’s most important abstract art group, and the different explorations and choices these artists made as they confronted their personal artistic ideals.
The participating artists are the initiators and most important members of the Informel movement, but they are also key representatives of post-war German art. Peter Brüning, K.O. Götz, Gerhard Hoehme, and Bernard Schultze were the primary members of Gruppe 53 and with Emil Schumacher and Fred Thieler, they defined the German Informel school. They have been frequent presences at documenta and the Venice Biennale. Abstraction is an important hallmark of Western modern art, and it was a guiding force in the history of twentieth-century world art. In particular, German abstraction had innovative and historical value, as well as humanistic and expressive artistic traits, and as such, it occupies an important place in the realm of modern European abstract art. The practices of these six artists have left a lasting impression through artwork, but also through education, where they inspired and encouraged later artists.
“Prologue -- German Informel Art” is an important part of “Deutschland 8 – Deutsche Kunst in China” and Red Brick Art Museum is honored to participate. The distinctive and complex works that these artists have created serve as a prologue for the Deutschland 8 event. On the art historical plane, these artists have engaged in studies of phenomena that they bring to the attention of the scholarly community, which has always been a primary focus of the Red Brick Art Museum. With this exhibition, we hope to fully present the unique features of German Informel and give the Chinese public a special German art experience.

Artist Biography

Peter Brüning
Born in 1929 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Died in 1970 in Ratingen, Germany.
In the early 1960s, Peter Brüning was a key figure within the innovative Düsseldorf art scene. His early works from this period were heavily influenced by the spontaneous and impulsive gestural abstract painting of French Tachisme and German Informel, which developed in postwar Europe during the 1940s through the 1960s. Brüning’s paintings were executed quickly and are characterized by intense gestures; the viewer can easily retrace the movement of the artist’s hands and arms. The pictures have no titles as such, but are rather identified by sequential work numbers. Their compositions are marked by horizontal movements and predominantly vertical brushstrokes, which come together to create a highly vital pictorial structure.
Around 1964, these gestural works were followed by a new series of painting that feature sign-like imagery, which relate to visual experiences of everyday urban life: traffic, urban planning, maps etc. This new orientation was seen by many at the time as a break from his previous style, whereby the artist maintained his characteristic expressiveness and working method. Brüning followed his own, individually developed system of different outward forms, which manifested themselves in visually and formally related movement patterns and concepts of space. As with his painter colleague Gerhard Hoehme, this abandonment of pure abstraction took place in the years of social upheaval that shook not only Germany. In addition, it is evidence of the insight that an artist is not obligated to continuously repeat himself just because the market demands this of him.