artist / participant

press release

Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of pain tings by Jörg Immendorff from his Café Deutschland series, begun in 1977 and continued thr ough the 1980s. Painted at a time of deeply fractured political and ideological lines, the paintings are set in an imaginary nightclub on the East-West border of Germany, in which Immendorff staged theatrical confrontations between emblematic figures, both historical and contemporary, illustrating the complexities of a divided Germany. In these Brechtian scenarios, characters like Hitler and Stalin, A.R. Penck and Immendorff himself engage in the dialectics of Cold War politics, national identity and artistic legacy.

Immendorff attended at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf, first under the tutelage of the theatre designer Teo Otto, who has one of Bertold Brecht’s principal collaborators in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1964 he came under the apprenticeship of Joseph Beuys, an important mentor who later figures prominently in Immendorff’s allegorical paintings. While still a student, Immendorff abandoned painting for political activism through a style of political performance he named LIDL. Despite the obsolescence of history painting, Immendorff chose to return to painting in 1977 with Café Deutschland: large, figurative canvases whose subject matter addressed contemporary German history. The series met with critical acclaim and were featured in his first major museum exhibition at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, and then later at Documenta VII in 1982. The paintings stood at the forefront of a new wave of figuration that originated in Germany with Immendorff, A.R. Penck, Walter Dahn and Jiri Georg Dokoupil, and included Italians Sandra Chia and Francesco Clemente, and Americans David Salle and Julian Schnabel. These artists were among those included in the important and aptly-named exhibition “Zeitgeist” at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin in 1982.

In a recent interview for Artforum, Immendorff explains: “I’ve always been interested in a new kind of imagemaking dealing with history that has more symbolic power than a mimetic depiction of actual events . . . My ‘Café Deutschland’ paintings stand just as much for a then externally divided Germany as for the condition of an internally split man, who struggles to communicate not only with himself but also with his colleagues and lovers.”

Immendorff was born in 1945 in Bleckede, Germany. He currently lives and works in Düsseldorf. He has exhibited extensively since the 1970s, including at Documenta V; Kunstmuseum Basel; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Documenta VII; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Concurrently on view at Perry Rubenstein Gallery 23 Street is the first New York solo show of photographs by Lina Bertucci.


only in german

Jörg Immendorff
Café Deutschland