With his incandescent and libertarian body of work, Jörg Immendorff has joined the cenacle of the greatest German neo-expressionist painters: Georg Baselitz, A.R. Penck, Markus Lüpertz, Anselm Kiefer, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter.
Unfolding from the shifting sands of the East-West political confrontation whose epicentre will become Berlin at the end of WWII, his work is rooted in a period of art history permeated with aesthetic trends that stigmatize figurative painting, from the 1960s onwards.
From his beginnings in the early 60s at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf Fine Art Academy) to his premature death in 2007, nothing will exhaust Immendorffʼs energy and determination to stand against the cultural establishment or the aesthetic diktats.
Immendorff enters the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie in 1963 to study stage design under Teo Ottoʼs tutelage. After being expelled by his teacher when he refuses to include one of his paintings in a stage set, he joins, the following year, the studio of Joseph Beuys, the anti-painter. Against all odds, he becomes, amongst all the students, his closest accomplice: his sparring-partner. At the Kunstakademie, Immendorff stands out. He is a painter who possesses an unrivalled command of the German language and conducts an extreme leftist political struggle wearing a toga and a cardboard sword … Eventually, his artistic and militant interventions carried out with the posture of a liberated Harlequin, result in his dismissal. History however, is not without a sense of irony. In 1996, having achieved international recognition 1 , Immendorff re-integrates Düsseldorffʼs Kunstakademie as a teacher.
From the neo-dadaist group Lidl (in the 60s) to the later works he conceives mentally and then realises with the help of his assistants (from the 90s up to his death), Immendorff never ceases to sculpt, draw and paint. Alongside his peers, he resumes the golden age of German painting, interrupted by the First World War and influenced by the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement. His constantly evolving visual language summons story and history, mixing politicians, artists, activists, workers and craftsmen. His figures, portrayed with a radical, figurative and neo-expressionist approach, are seen discussing, drinking and failing within the frameworks of a historical series: Café Deutschland (1977 1984). One of the most emblematic pieces of this series is included in this exhibition.
- There once was Immendorff, 2016