At the height of the Cold War, art produced in divided Germany contested the cultural demarcation of East and West. Here Claudia Mesch shows how a wide group of artists, such as Joseph Beuys, Allan Kaprow, Gerhard Richter, Carolee Schneemann, Ed Kienholz, Yvonne Rainer, Jorg Immendorff and Nam June Paik, struggled to take visual art "beyond the crude separations of the 'Iron Curtain' ", and to transcend the first global cultural divide of the twentieth century. Artists in Berlin produced artworks - including painting, performance and film - that engaged critically with imposed national and global identities, and with issues of memory and trauma. Mesch uncovers for the first time the existence of a critical socialist modernism in the former Soviet Bloc, practiced in East Germany by artists such as Manfred Butzmann, Wolfgang Mattheuer, A.R. Penck, and the artists' group Clara Mosch.
'Modern Art at the Berlin Wall' presents a new chapter in the history of modern art in considering the cultural struggles of artists as they coped with the profound trauma of World War II and the global ideological divide of the Cold War era, and is essential for all those interested in art history, modernism, the Cold War and the cultural history of the twentieth century.
Claudia Mesch teaches in the School of Art at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. She is the author, with Viola Michely, of 'Joseph Beuys: The Reader' (I.B. Tauris, 2007) and is founding editor of the e-journal 'Surrealism and the Americas'. She writes on diverse topics in twentieth-century and contemporary art, especially postwar modernism, its ties to surrealism, and European intellectual history, and is working on a study of European intellectuals' and surrealism's preoccupation with Native American culture. She is a frequent contributor of art and film criticism to 'Sculpture', 'caa.reviews' and 'The Art Book'.
TABLE OF CONTENTS List of Illustrations Acknowledgements Introduction I. Recuperating the Modern II. Marking the Postwar City III. Bonjour Monsieur Courbet: Realist painting and the defector dialectic IV. Performance West and East: the freedom of failure V. Art on TV: the other Cold War divide Epilogue Index