full chalk circle

There was a sense of existential desperation to this quintessentially German artist. Death infection was always lurking in the work of Bertolt Brecht, often the fatalistic embodiment of existential truth. This lurking triumph of death, the dance of death, may have been connected Germany’s self-destructive history.Ghosts from old mythologies, stubborn to the yearning call for new utopias, an emotional desert filled with the conflict within the feeling of social isolation. Morbidity and absurdity, both Germanic and slightly surrealistic. An overall mood that is dark, depressing and charged with oppressiveness…

Dieter Hacker. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/artists/lotdetailpage.aspx?lot_id=D8EFA39C63AD2753

… In the end, his suspicions must have grown into full fears. The hypocrisies and abuses of the old class order had been superceded by new ones that Brecht was in only too good a position to observe. The new authorities had no hesitation, during the revolt of June 17, 1953, in lifting the one supporting statement from a long, critical letter Brecht wrote to Walter Ulbricht, the chief of the East German regime, and citing it out of context to prove that legitimate intellectuals were willing to back the regime against the insurgent workers.

---Martin Disler seems to revive Nolde, but with much more expressionist ferment -- clearly influenced by American Abstract Expressionism -- and a greater sense of Germanic grotesqueness, and, one might add, picturesqueness, as numerous untitled paintings made between 1981 and 1985 indicate.--- Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit8-9-06.asp image:http://art.findartinfo.com/art.asp?i=26&p=142&old=1

Among Brecht’s literary remains was found a bitter little poem in which, after referring to the regime’s solemn admonition that the people could win back the trust of the government only be redoubled exertion, he suggested poisonously that the Government dissolve the people and elect another.

Something in Brecht had burned out; something else was still glowing. Several days after the pomposity of Brecht’s enormous state funeral, the old atheist’s last confidant- a Protestant clergyman- published his reminiscences of the conversation. He must write, Brecht had insisted, a candid obituary: “Don’t write that you admire me! Write that I was an uncomfortable person, and that I intend to remain so after my death. Even then, there are certain possibilities.”

Elvira Bach. ---Perception of emotion is not compromised by politics, even when there is a politically correct point being made subliminally, as in Elvira Bach's images of women, particularly the ironically lurid fantasy of sexual liberation pictured in the triptych When It Is Night in Berlin (1983), a polymorphous perverse nightclub scene become a polymorphous perverse painting. Similarly, Dark and Pale (1986), depicting two women, one black, one white, both naked, both with demonic tails emanating from their heads, and making love, has a certain self-mocking irony as well as confrontational vigor and erotic daring. ...Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit8-9-06.asp image:http://a1000livingpainters.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/elvira-bach/

If Brecht was prickly, and if his work was pricklier yet, it was because the world as he knew it nettled him so. He meant his writing, his manner, and his “possibilities” to help prod our stolid and unhappy time toward a day when people would know that:

To let no one be ruined/ Not even yourself/ To fill others with happiness/ Even yourself/Is good


Brian Johnston:Marxists, unlike Freudians, have a hard time accounting for human evil. How did it originate? If it arose out of human nature, its mesh o

ological and psychological drives, how can we have confidence in a Utopian future free of this complex of guilt and oppression. To say it originated in class difference does not solve the problem, as Freud pointed out. How did the class divisions arise in the first place? If from greedy self-interests, how can we ensure these will not always re-appear?…

---Even earlier, Baselitz's The Great Friends (1965) -- two gigantic manneristic figues with signs of the stigmata standing amid the ruins of Germany, reminding us that in World War II the Germans were as much the victims of themselves as they were of the allies who defeated them -- suggests the process of mourning, or at least the need to mourn. But it seems to turn into mourning for the German losers, who look rather heroic however tarnished. What happened to the victims of Germany? Has the Jewish Holocaust become the German Holocaust? All these works are allegories of German history, nationalism and imperialism, carried to a self-destructive extreme by the Nazis. It is the fascination with the German self that is at it issue in these paintings -- its misery and suffering, rather than the misery and suffering it inflicted on the world. Nonetheless, Neo-Expressionist paintings are clearly a rebellion against the authority and power of the state and the complacent status quo of postwar German society, as well as the status quo of art at the time, dominated by American Minimalism and Conceptualism. --- Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit8-9-06.asp

…These problems originated with the Enlightenment concept that humanity in its natural state is good and that it was corrupted by civilization which brought in oppressive institutions, superstitions, and the need violently to defend them. But, again, we are left with the problem, what was it in humanity that brought these oppressive conditions into being? For the Christian, it is original sin; for the Hegelian it is the result of the human drive to self-determination coming against that same drive in others. Hegelians believe the human spirit, through conflict, gains greater freedom and self-determination: but that conflict is inescapable. For the Freudian, the human capacity for violence and self-destructive behavior comes from the necessary but destructive suppression of our instinctual drives which serves the cause of repressive civilization. (Civilization and Its Discontents) Brecht reflects the Marxian claim that violent and self-destructive human behavior comes from inequalities within the economic system of ownership of productive power: a conflict that inevitably will work its way to the victory of a guilt–free proletariat – the first class to come to power without guilt. Read More:http://www.coursesindrama.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=133

helmut middendorf.----The war forced German artists to face themselves, but the self they faced was more generic than particularly German: being German became a springboard for conveying the tragic sense of life, which American Pop art as well as Minimalism and Conceptualism denied. After all, there is nothing tragic about America, however ironically pathetic it may be, which is the point Warhol's death imagery -- including his death masks of the socially successful, their self-deception on ironic display -- makes. No tragic depth in America, only shallow self-consciousness to accompany a shallow sense of self, however much suffering there is in America -- a suffering hidden by its pursuit of success. The problem of the self is the "metaphysical" problem of all art that is convincingly modern, as Harold Rosenberg argued. The self is at risk in modernity: it has fewer and fewer social supports, and no transcendental ones at all, and thus little to facilitate its development and give it strength and self-belief. It must address its own riskiness if it is to survive, if only in a risky art.--- Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit8-9-06.asp

…Until Utopia, Disorder may bring more hope than Order. This idea goes all the way back to Brecht’s earliest period; such anarchic plays from Baal to The Threepenny Opera. … Brecht commented that, from the point of view of the oppressed, a time of disorder was a blessing. The Song is just another way of looking at the theme of disorder and order, an ‘estranging’ of the subject for a moment, getting us to see it in a new light. Brecht’s plays invite us to reflect ironically and paradoxically – both liberating modes of thinking. Brecht’s lack of consistency is one of his best qualities: he does not let us make easy judgments.( Johnston, ibid)
German Neo-Expressionistic painting is urgently modern because it presents the self at its most nihilistic — dangerously defiant and above all outraged by the world, whose violence and death wish are satirically mimicked by its artistic violence. It is as though it is compulsively expelling the world’s violence in the act of angrily assimilating it. Neo-Expressionist violence is a kind of pyrrhic victory over the world’s violence, artistically transcending it in the act of emotionally submitting to its inescapability. The Neo-Expressionists are angry fatalists, acutely aware of death. But their consciousness of death is a source of self and artistic renewal — indeed, the only consciousness that prods them to ecstatic life. Underneath their sardonically violent surface and seemingly ridiculous images, they are eschatologically serious and sublime artists.Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit8-9-06.asp

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