A traumatic national history profoundly influences the work of many contemporary German artists.
Informed by brutal political movements and their aftermath – the Nazi dictatorship, the horrors of World War II and the resulting tense divisions of the Cold War – those born in the early to mid-20th century produced work that treats representation, national identity and history as unstable, fractured and problematic.
Such a “de-natured” condition exists in other post-war (or modern) cultures as well, but it has spurred German artists in particular towards the complex and conceptually aligned creativity for which they are now so widely recognized.
From April 8 through July 10, the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will present an exhibition of their work, “DE-NATURED,” organized by Chief Curator Peter Nisbet.
Concurrently, the museum will present the companion exhibition “Romantic Dreams | Rude Awakenings: Northern European Prints and Drawings, 1840–1940.” For more information, visit http://uncnews.unc.edu/content/view/4435/66/
The nine artists featured in “DE-NATURED” – Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Hanne Darboven, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth and Martin Kippenberger – represent a pantheon of the best-known German artists of the recent past.
Their art covers a broad aesthetic spectrum – from nondescript objects rendered in felt to assured works in oil, photography, print media and drawing – but is held together by shared cultural influences and the quality of their individual achievement. Drawn from a notable private collection, the nearly 40 pieces on view address profound questions about society, creativity, representation and aesthetic experience.
A full schedule of related programs is available online at www.ackland.org.
“DE-NATURED” was made possible by James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach of New York City and the William Hayes Ackland Trust. The media sponsor is WUNC, North Carolina Public Radio
The Ackland, on South Columbia Street just south of Franklin Street, opens from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays; and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The museum will be closed on Jan. 1. Admission is free, with donations accepted. Parking is available in several nearby lots, and parking is free in many University lots nights and weekends. For more information, call (919) 966-5736 or www.ackland.org.
Martin Kippenberger, German, 1953–1997: “Untitled (The Mark),” 1990; graphite and Letraset on hotel stationery, mounted on poster. James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach Collection. © Estate Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne: http://uncnews.unc.edu/images/stories/news/arts/2011/kippenberger_350.jpg
Sigmar Polke, German, 1941–2010: “His Highness, or When Do Points Count (S.H. – Oder wann zählen die Punkte),” 2002; James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach Collection. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn: http://uncnews.unc.edu/images/stories/news/arts/2011/polke_535.jpg
Ackland contact: Emily Bowles, (919) 843-3675,
News Services contact: LJ Toler, (919) 962-8589