What does it mean to be German? Recent answers to this question have ranged from the general ("Germans are always the other") to the analytic ("They are a multiple identity with a constant wish for redefinition"). The catalogue for "Confronting Identities in German Art" - an exhibition to run at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art from October 2002 to January 2003 -turns to art works, artists and their audiences to explore how Germans of the past two centuries have confronted issues of identity, both individual and collective. Focusing on the Smart Museum's rich holdings of German art and a significant selection of important loans, it examines the complex interweaving of subjective identities from the period of Caspar David Friedrich to that of Anselm Kiefer. Thematic essays come together with a select number of object entries to place individual works of art within a larger historical context, and the whole is lavishly illustrated with one hundred images from the exhibition itself.
Reinhold Heller is professor of art history and Germanic studies at the University of Chicago. He has published extensively on the visual culture, art, and art theory of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Northern Europe, including major studies of Edvard Munch, Gabriele Munter, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and Toulouse-Lautrec.