Art of Two Germanys / Cold War Cultures/Kunst Und Kalter Krieg / Deutsche Positionen 1945-1989

By Gough, Maria | The Art Bulletin, June 2011 | Go to article overview
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Art of Two Germanys / Cold War Cultures/Kunst Und Kalter Krieg / Deutsche Positionen 1945-1989

Gough, Maria, The Art Bulletin

Art of Two Cermanys / Cold War Cultures

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles. January 25. 2009 -April 19, 2009

Kunst und Kalter Krieg / Deutsche Positionen 1945-1989

Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg. May 23, 2009-September 6, 2009; Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, October 3, 2009-January 10, 2010


Art of Tuo Germanys / Cold War Cultures

Exh. cat New York: Harry N. Abranis; Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum ol Art, 2009. 460 pp.; 330 color ills., 200 b/w. $75.00

The Cold War is hot again, not so much on the geopolitical front - though the July 2010 spy swap bel ween Washington and Moscow might suggest otherwise - but rather in terms of cultural production. Over the past two decades, funky new museums dedicated to presenting the documents and detritus of tire Cold War have been sprouting up almost everywhere, it seems, often in formerly top-secret but now abandoned militan sites, some of them located hundreds of feel underground. Offering phantasmagorias of retro kitsch - socialist and capitalist alike - these museums are testimony to our enduring fascination with the material residues of our recent past. But the competition for the future that dominated cultural relations between East and West in the postwar period has also recently come into its own as a field of curatorial and scholarly inquiry. In 200S, for example, the Victoria and .Alben Museum in London produced an extremely well-researched and engaging survey on the design front Cold War Modern: Design 19451970. which then traveled to the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rovereto, Italy, and the National Museum of Lithuania in Vilnius. Other notable exhibitions have tackled the ramifications of Cold War geopolitics for aesthetic production within the West, such as Be-Bomb: The Transatlantic War of Images and All Thai Jazz. i946-1956 (2007), curated by Serge Guiibaut, the pioneering theorist of Cold War aesthetics, and coproduced by die Miiseu d'An Contemporain de Barcelona and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofìa in Madrid, two of the most dynamic and innovative players active on the museological stage today.

For the latest contribution to this developing field we turn to Art of 'Two Germanys/ Cold War Cultures (Kunst und Kalter Krieg/ Deutsche Positionen 1945-1989), which was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Cooperation with Kulturprojekte Berlin, a nonprofit organization devoted to the promotion of die arts in Berlin and beyond. Its cocurators were Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art's senior curator of modern art. internationally renowned for three decades of major exhibitions focusing on the intertwining of aesthetics and politics, particularly in Germany, and Eckhart Gillen, an art historian and curator al die Kulttirpiojekie Berlin who has devoted his scholarly career since the 1970s to the study of East German art - one of the few West Germans to have done so - producing in the process more than a dozen monographs, catalogs, and document collections on die subject. The well-illustrated accompanying exhibition catalog - coedited by Barron and Sabine Eckmann, the director and chief curator of the Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis - comprises informative essays by more than a dozen major scholars, short notes on clusters of objects, checklist, bibliography, and chronology of historical and artistic events.

Under preparation for some five years, Art of Two Germany's began its lour in Los Angeles in January 2009 and then ? raveled to the Germanise lies Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg in [he summet and the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin in the fall, where its opening on October 3 coincided with the national public holiday Tag der Deutschen Einheit, celebrating the anniversary of German reunification. In all three cities the exhibition offered visitors a sprawling binational survey of postwar German art from 194:5 through 1989, bringing together more than three hundred objects in a broad range of media (painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, artist's books, film, video, and installation) by some one hundred and twenty artists.

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