1980s neo-expressionism

A Look Back at the New Wild Ones

Rainer Fetting-Städel Museum-Artothek
Rainer Fetting captured various aspects of Berlin life in the 1980s.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The New Wild Ones movement represented no turning point in painting but only an emotional flickering.

  • Facts


    • The Städel Art Museum’s “The 80s: Figurative Painting in West Germany” runs through October 18.
    • The show’s 27 artists include Walter Dahn, Rainer Fetting, Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen and Salomé.
    • The works by the best artists in the Städel exhibit represent painting as a vital principle and as an anarchistic revolt, our reviewer says.
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Every 30 to 40 years, tastes in art passes through a retro-phase. The look back at art movements once popular but washed over by a new zeitgeist encourages rediscovery, provides fodder for market strategies and stimulates the business of exhibitions. This can be seen with the re-evaluation by museums, the art trade and auctions of Art Informel, Arte Povera and Zero Art.

Now the Neo-Expressionists of the 1980s are in the spotlight. Frankfurt’s Städel Art Museum is showcasing 90 artworks by protagonists of the West German form. Among the lenders is a core of collectors, galleries and former dealers who have remained true to their figureheads to this day.

The exhibit, “The 80s: Figurative Painting in West Germany,” was curated by Martin Engler. It presents works “that, on the one hand, are part of our collective visual memory, and on the other, can be re-assessed and seen again in their pictorial power and conceptual complexity,” said Max Hollein, the musem’s director.

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