Neo Rauch


Painter said...

Neo Rauch @
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198

Quisquilloso said...
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Thousand Points of Light said...


Read the Para catalog... there's plenty of conversation regarding the 'disuse' of surrealist tradition in the work.

Lacking a punchline is a compliment.

Did you see the show?

I think if you stack the paintings up to any painting in the last 20 years, you're hard pressed not to come away with the distinct impression that he'll go down as a major 20th - 21st century painter.

poppy said...

this guys rocks,
punchlines are retarded, he doesn't need one, i think he made a small attempt to address the critics in previous work, but i'm glad its gone...What exactly does this need to be other than what it is...? People that need a punchline read too much..

Quisquilloso said...
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Thousand Points of Light said...


Make sure to see this particular show! he bumped these out in one winter session, 2006. As a group, they really work.

Last year I thought he was starting to actually lose the uncanny and Awkward sensibilities that were strong in the 1998-2001 work. They were simply becoming too painterly. But I've recanted, esp. after seeing this show. The provisional qualities of his work are really starting to work against the painterliness which sets up a great tension.

Regarding surrealism, the essential jist is that the movement in both european and american hands was a modernist attempt at deeper truths. With Rauch, its the exact opposite: to undermine modernist yearnings, and open a new landscape that straddles both modern and po mo. What's more- and I think PS's take in the New Yorker got at this- is that the discontinuity, although steeped in East German sensibilities, reads very well now, regardless of locale.

Nomi said...

Can someone clarify for me what a "punchline" in a painting is? A nice easy example would be helpful.

Hungry Hyaena said...

There is a very thoughtful article, ostensibly about Rauch, by Peter Schjeldahl in a recent issue of The New Yorker. For the critic, Rauch exemplifies the zeitgeist.

If you're interested in his work, or just the general malaise that passes for progressive culture these days, I highly recommend reading it.

"Rauch may be barely known outside the art world, but fame is increasingly superfluous to the establishment of an artist’s sinecure. Insider buzz and sales to collectors of the right pedigree are what count...Inflated financially and, through booming institutions, socially, art may never have been more esteemed while meaning less."

Quisquilloso said...
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Ursula's Dad said...

Just say No Roach.

Cooky Blaha said...

@quis there is a page 2

la liz said...

How can there be a resolution?--there isnt one in history--unless you think there is.

Beautiful painting --less cartoony than ever--and check out the design! That sells.

Like Kathe B.--illustrating a confluence of ideas thru style (using different styles of course)--sans the skilled painting? With a punchline. Ouch.

Our girl Kathe delivers the blow while Neo wanks?

zipthwung said...

Tansey was a darling WITH punchlines. Depends on the critic I guess. One example is some sherlock holmes-deconstructionists battling on a cliff of words - pretty east to read, right? VIsual Puns. One liners. Thats what they say.

I think its funny that surrealism (whatever you want to call it now) is making a comeback and that (or made a comeback) and now people who used to say its bad are saying its good. I guess context is everything. Jump on the bandwagon, brah!

TPL you really are a team playerr huh?

"he'll go down as a major 20th - 21st century painter."

I saw the work at Zwirner and it was ok, glibly painted (thats a not a compliment nor a put down) in the style of - which is conceptual in one sense and easy in the sense that its repetition verges on onanism. Paint!

Which is to say, the painting itself isnt that great. Like Mark Tansey, who also paints in a glib manner (the man "rags" the paint!)

whats so great about the palette knife that Bob Ross hasn't shown us allready in its most humble form?

Which makes me like captain Beefheart, bless his slacker soul. At least I dont feel like he has pretentions to mastery. If he does then fuck that shit.

Thousand Points of Light said...


I'm on the team, yes indeed. That's beyond the market leverage for all things german.

I disagree on the painting itself, esp. as the work moves along. I hear the complaint, but in the end he's got good moves while remaining mannered and staid throughout. That's what 'rhapsodic complacency' is all about. I'll take it, with the pretensions thrown in.

tackad said...

There's a less than applauditor article in today's NYTimes. But a good and thoughtful one . . . . .

zipthwung said...

Well they certainly are "in good taste" - thats where the battle lines are drawn I suppose - conservative in its demeanour.

The other axis of brio is of course readerly/conceptual content vs. phenomenological/experiential.

Its the same problem I have with Lucian Freud (Butter or Parket?)
Who's technical chops are fine, but who isn't surreal/conceptual enough for me (I doubt his imaginitive or visionary powers - but he's not that kind of artist)

In the same way, even though these paintings spring from dreams, the visions they depict seem to come from propaganda posters or art theory, and not from the wild populist low brow jungian ocean. Is his inner life that dull? I suppose - the last dream I remembered was pretty prozaic.

Which is to say, made for market/museum/the Medicis - I think dude is pretty savvy - in the same way Koons is/was.

This is what Luuuuuuxury looks like.

The Village voice has an article on the neo nazis going to the met - wonder what supremacists think of the Rausch.

Nomi said...

OK. I think I get it.

Nomi said...

What a punchline is, that is. I think I get what a punchline is.

seymourpansick said...

"the visions they depict seem to come from propaganda posters ... not from the wild populist low brow...Is his inner life that dull?"


"Which is to say, made for market...Luuuuuuxury."

Yes, again.

Let's just call it ANTISEPTIC. A painting depicting starving east Berliners eating roasted mice might cause a ripple in the Central Park set. We don't want to shock or offend. That is why somber abstractions sell and somber realistic depictions go in the warehouse.

It would of interest to see him let go, but, that is another painter that he is not.

webthing said...

Life is a strange ritual, obscured.

New Smoke paints it.

But life is a lot of other things 2. (i know people hate numeric but it's a clue...)

An image like this speaks in an old italian chiaroscuro tone. Kind of where this painting thing began 500 years ago. Money has lineage, and when contemporary art agrees, the honeymoon is delightful.

Collectors always start to value history more and more as they get older and the future presents them with an escalating challenge to find their good old meat and potatoes meaning, so they stick comfortably to yesterday's zeitgeist, and that's ok that's the market, while the objet sans nom computer kids with attention spans of small insects build a world that is vastly different to the old meaty smoke of the solid and highly advanced eurocentric past.


So here we have in this image a bunch of young industrialists dressed in their factory garb acting tragically self aware and quite sensibly as they protest outside the sentinel's watchtower, the drama increased as two of them have just noticed a bomb smoking. The drama is all there, Neo now a middle aged man, reflecting on what bizarre sense of futility and escapism a lot of europeans have felt in the last 80 years, especially the germans.

That's what I get of it anyway.

The only thing it's missing is some young kids in bright colours flying down the slopes in the background on snowboards with ipods not giving a frick.

Why does value increase with weight? As new lightweight materials arrive, perhaps already, value is changing. No?

Neo is a great, even master, painter. These terms are strange in today's language.

slothra said...

Haven't seen the show, but I'm looking forward to it. The nostalgic & musty feel of his work put me off at first, but I'm coming around.

I've always seen Rauch's work as an expression of an after-the-party moment... during the GDR, the Leipzig School painters had been cloistered away & isolated, rigorously studying Durer, Holbein, etc., and practicing Soviet social realism. Then the wall comes down, and all kinds of influences pour in, it's maybe a little overwhelming... they go a bit nuts. It's an esthetic of picking up the pieces of a fractured history & trying to make sense of it all, failing, but producing some interesting, if disjointed, narratives. Maybe dreams are senseless like the history of East Germany is senseless.

There aren't many "schools" of art out there in the current stylistic chaos... I think for a lot of people it's kind of a relief to see something that could actually be characterized as a movement...?

Also and p.s. I'm always curious as to how much an artist's critical reception is dependent on the perceived "success vs. ability" ratio? How much critique is backlash, based on a perception of disproportionate attention/importance? How would the reactions be different if this stuff was hanging at ATM gallery?

Quisquilloso said...
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nat said...

Slothra, I think I'd have the same reaction whether I saw it at the Met or some other gallery-- "Wow, this person can paint but... so what?"

These remind me of playing of a child playing with toy soldiers, some are gi joes and some are American revolutionary war soldiers and throw in some cowboys and indians for the heck of it. They have a juvenile and cloistered feel.

Or its like retelling a dream, where the dream was loaded with this or that emotion and then you recite it to someone and it comes off as a boring string of unrelated events.

I guess you can say this blandness is the blandness of the flattening of modern culture, information, etc... A post modern symptom of this or that or whatever. I actually prefer the Burkhart picture because it is annoying. I'd rather be annoyed than bored.

As for the market, at the recent L.A. auction, Sotheby's or Christie's, Peter Doig reached the number 2 position for highest auction price for a living artist, behind Jasper Johns or Rauschenberg. Anyway, the auction guy said Doig appealed to collectors of Impressionism and Contemporary Art. I'm sure Rauch's market value is based on an appeal both to the old dudes(hey he paints figures well) and the new dudes(it is funky and confusing and he paints figures well).

grand said...

first I want say thanks for this great blog, giving me inside information on the New York Artscene.
second see if I can post comment

grand said...

Seen a room filled with Neo Rauch ' s work in the Venice bienale some years ago. They reminded me all of Jonathan Swift and his Gullivers travels. Thereby could definatly not name this surrealist nor modern; men is either too small or too big for this universe.
Best thing is that this is painted in a convincing manner,no matter how much doubt it is better expressed in a serious scientific way

Baron Von Badass said...

Vorort (Suburb) 2007


For followers of Rauch’s work since the late 90s, there are a number of features to Vorort that are immediately obvious, several that achieve new prominence, others that amplify previous themes.

For example the group of citizens to the right once more engage stoically in obscure civic duties, in earlier works these ranged from protests to civic and biochemical engineering. Here a local group march under dull, presumably traditional colors, only to have them burst into flames at a roadside. No one has set fire to them, as is clear, the prone figure in the foreground is actually caught wrapped in the colors, the woman in the gold and teal jacket has yet to notice her share has caught alight. But it is the couple to the right who best capture the mood of mild annoyance or disappointment. For this is a world where things keep going wrong, that lacks consistency or conviction; that one can expect little from.

A second feature is the restricted palette, the co-ordination of colors across various objects. The picture is emphatically composed, in just the way the depicted world is organized. The traditional colors of the banner recur, perhaps deliberately in the tall figure’s trousers, the bomb across the street and the coal bin beside it. Similarly, the fires rhyme with the long and bizarre break in the dark clouds, the identical houses and the central woman’s jacket. In some ways these things are connected, part of a grand design, in other ways they amount to no more than poverty or economy of design. Picture and world share a disturbing collusion.

A third feature is the ambiguity that often follows from this design, but often involves space or placement. Things are frequently not quite what they seem in Rauch’s world, the world itself fatally fragmented. Here for example the burgundy colored bomb may well turn out to be a children’s toy or a promotional prop, while the blue container beside the coal bin would seem to shear path and road, almost like Cubism. But it may be an illusion – a trick of the light or architecture, for the picture includes many others. Notice also that the mural on the wall behind features equally convincing jars and dish.

But Rauch is hardly content with the kind of trompe effects exploited by Dali or Magritte. Increasingly, his work has resorted to broader modeling, richer tonalities at the expense of outline. These bring with them other riddles. Here, the dark clouds notably give way at the horizon, not quite to distant light, but just incomplete or indifferent picture. The picture fades in and out in this way, far more than in earlier work, and areas such as the white burst across the empty street are both, a blinding light source or reflectance (the source of the fire?) and tantalizingly unresolved.

Other regular features include the bizarre proportions to figures (especially hands) the shift in tonalities (the woman on the right paler than others) and vaguely science fictional elements, here the chimneys and distant figure seemingly encased in stone from the waste down.

If there is a punch line to such work, or if the viewer really needs to be punched, it might run something like -

Don’t expect us to believe in anything natural, and we won’t expect to believe that everything has gone wrong.

flesheater99 said...

I can;t read your comments
I will
but first I read my own.

I feel somewhat objective about this guy as I never knew his work b4 a solo @ Zwit\ner (2 years ago?) I thought then-> shruggsville...Not much to 'get' here but some stealthy handi-work.

Saw this Met show on on a whim and thought-FINALLY.

'Finally' isn't a word I get to exhale much in our/my contemporary soup.

let me enjoy it.

Cooky Blaha said...

thanks for the crit, baron. I'm not a big fan of rauch, but it is a great pleasure to see an artist with big talent so honestly invested in his work. i always enjoy his shows. has anyone out there studied with him?

Quisquilloso said...
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wod zar xam said...

I thinks some here are missing the intricacies of the surrealist movement as it pertains to painting, and to Rauch.

Rauch, in the statement on the wall in the museam, expresses disdane for much of surrealism's classical approach to its own narrative possibilities (if i remeber right). I'm in complete agreement with him, despite a huge respect for the movement as a whole. To the bulk of the surrealists, by and large, a apple was as good as a hat or an ant or a clock -- they were all just objects, enumerated and devoid of their own lives and the stories that they wove together. Surrealism, as a whole, rendered all objects equal, so long as they were vaguely out of order. It was not, by and large, a movement with a great deal to say after it had laid claim to the right to nonsense, and for that it gets, and deserves, criticism.

That lack of language, afterall, was Breton's dream: he wanted art without meaning, nonsense to break the molds, to rule the day and reset the course. In the various forms of painted surrealism that actually occured, this nonsense took varied forms. Some approached abstraction (Masson, Miro, most Matta), some barely left the real at all (Dali, Magritte, DiChirico). A few, and they were the minority, managed (as I see it) to transcend surrealism and beging to reshape the molds for themselves, creating new meaning that is highly difficult to decipher, but indeed does manage to leave the "classic", redundant format that Rauch seems to deplore. Ernst is absolutely one of them. I would add Tanguey and Kahlo, off the top of my head.

I would suggest that the great MET wall of Tangueys and Ernsts should be required a visit after seeing Rauch, along with Balthus. Its a short stroll.

Rauch, in these paintings, absolutely falls into the transcendent realm of dialog. They are absolutely not impossible to figure out, just very difficult. Anything worth saying usually is.
PS, in the New Yorker, is quite wrong I think in calling these a plea toward befuddled disengagement. They are anything but.

Old Guy said...

Agree with your PS absofulutely wod zar xam!

Quisquilloso said...
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Aaron said...

I was walking down the path of despair, when I found the flag of happiness. Wavign the flag of happiness I summoned forth the spirit of victory, and banished the cow of sickness.

But the cow of sickness was not to be so easily defeated, because its came roaring back, St; Elmo's fire arcing from its horns.

The Fucking Bull of Shit!

Dropping a big pie in my path.

What is it!

Just shit from a bull!

Picking the corn of truth from the bullshit, I walk on.


Aaron said...

Joel explained that he wrote this song due to his interest in history; he commented that he would have wanted to be a history teacher had he not become a rock and roll singer. Unlike most of Joel's songs, the lyrics were written before the melody, owing to the somewhat unusual style of the song. Nevertheless, the song was a huge commercial success and provided Billy Joel with his third, and final Billboard #1 hit.

'We Didn't Start the Fire' was written by Joel after a conversation with John Lennon's son Sean (as confirmed by the jacket of Piano Man: The Very Best of Billy Joel). Sean was complaining that he was growing up in troubled times.

Although the song ranked #1 in the US, and #7 in the UK, Blender magazine ranked "We Didn't Start the Fire" #44 on its list of the 50 worst songs ever. "We Didn't Start the Fire" also appeared in the same spot on VH1's 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever, a collaboration with Blender in 2004.

[edit] Historical items referred to in the song

The lyrics of "We Didn't Start the Fire" are essentially a chronological list of specific events, names, and places, beginning in Joel's year of birth. An exception is that of 1976 and 1977, whose years and events are swapped chronologically in the song.

Stream of consciousness in style, the song could be considered a natural successor to songs such as "Subterranean Homesick Blues", "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" and "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", as it consists of a series of unrelated images in a quick-fire, half-spoken, half-sung vocal style.

Cross said...

Wow, I go away for awhile and this place goes all serious highbrow techno-crito-Freudo.

I just think the unexploded bomb in the painting represents the impotence of painting itself. Burn your flag of choice, drop your art bombs, but most of all find yourself a loyal buyer and hunker down.

Now I'm off to secure my sinecure. (!?)

Aaron said...

I saw the last Rocky the other day and one thing that struck me (the movie is a cliche within a cliche wrapped in treacle and thinned down with the universal solvent, sentiment)

The thing that struck me was tthe Rocky character's sense of humor - which I imagine (and can't differentiate) to be Sylvester Stalone's sense of humor.

The thing about the humor is that it is cornball - and I find that to be simular to a lot of people in their 50-70s. Maybe thats when cornball humorists get come out of their shell. I don't know. Maybe there is a huge underground cornball waiting to pop.

This painting, while not cornball, is ABOUT a kind fo thing - so in that sense it is IRONIC.

The antiseptic is a quality and symptom of that irony, which eschews sentimentality.

In the same way, cornball humor is a symptom of an era, when nothing is really all that funny anymore.

poppy said...

I guess its still hard to not read art in the linear way that we paid money to learn it in...>>>we should understand it all by now...>>>are we required to be indebted to the past? Does slick still mean dick? Once upon a time, i think, i knew nothing. Anyways... I thought this was the Renaissance and our darker days behind us, maybe for some... cause there has always got to be a loser..

wod zar xam said...


I like your reading of it. My take on the painting had a lot of similar notions, and the romantic flash, as is dissolves the flags, is a great observation.

I remain in thinking that this painting becomes a superb post-classical tale, even under the pretense that you lay down. Of course, there are precedents to aspects of it, mythologically and archetypaly speaking, that arise in the image in bits and pieces. However, when these aspects of "old language" are used in the right way, they do not hinder the creation of new discourse so much as assist it's reception for the viewers and critical masses, like us. Ernst and Audubon both loved to paint birds, after all, but one was clearly visionary in his usage, while the other was simply mimetic.

It is the revivification and complication of these myths and old tales in new ways, their abutment against each other, and especially against new symbols particular to our age, that give a chance for renewed, expanded and embellished dialog. This dialog, en mass and in time, has the chance to let rise new archetypes, serving to create a new future released from the bounds of the old. It takes a prescient and attuned individual to do it though, especially one skeptical of the classic, and I think that Rauch is clearly one of these, perhaps one of the best at the moment.

The romantic flash that QQ detailed is present in many of these images, belying a notion that there is a sort of astral mystery from which new ideals arise, that we are not entrapped alone and struggling against immutable, concrete redundancies so long as we align ourselves, in trust, with the sublime.

In this image, the houses watch warily with a slender third eye, instituting their power through the image of the bomb. It is the theme of Structure vs. Man, and man, in his fight is hampered by the very structures he uses to fight -- in this painting represented by the flags. As the flags begin to burn with yellow fire, the sun casts a hopeful glare off distant mountains. QQ pointed out that the flames are mirrored, coloristically, by the sun. We are urged to realize, just as the disaffected man in the image's far right seems to be, that it is time not to fight the ramparts of the "Suburb" with its own structural fire, but with something new. Something perhaps better illuminated in subsequent paintings, or in all bits of all at once, to be realized and hopefully recounted later.

While a lot of the figures Rauch paints, like the primary one in this image, seem undecided as to what they are doing and seeing, lending to an aura of uncertainty that PS picks up on (incorrectly) as the totality of Rauch's message, this is a potent and telling figural stance, reflecting succinctly our times. We are in a confused time, resorting and realizing the futility of much of what we have done and continue to do. This epiphany is necessary to move on to the next phase, and lingering in the scaffold of our confusion is always an answer, one just needs to look, and believe that new answers are there to find.

Aaron said...

One of the ten commandements is

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me"

What does it mean to have a god or gods? What does it mean to hold a god above all?

Interpretation is a form of idolatry, just as any category is a stone idol.

If words are your idols, and reading is your sacrament, then nothing will deter you from sacrificing your brother to reason, to see without feeling, to simulate life in a prison of language.

No, better to enbact Artaud's theater of cruelty than to succumb to the jejune pleasures of interpreting the likes of Neo Rauch.

poppy said...

"Like Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf and anything by Antonin Artaud, Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes is one of those books that gets pushed on you by crazy people." a good read.

FLOWER in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies;—
Hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

All in all is all we are...

Quisquilloso said...
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nat said...

You treat the painting as if it is an illustration for which we just need to find the right text. Too bad Rauch didn't just supply the text himeself...or maybe he better not, since that's the critic/academic's job and we don't want to put them out of business.

This is like surrealism as history painting. Maybe I don't know history well enough to enjoy history paintings.

Reminds me of the Menzels in one of the Berlin Museums. One huge, unfinished, history painting in a smallish room(don't know what the subject was). The room isn't big enough for you to see it from a proper distance-- it would have to be in a large hall. If you look at it up close you're eye level with weeds and some soldiers' shoes--Really nicely painted weeds!

In another room is a small painting Menzel did of his foot. I prefer the painting of his foot.

poppy said...

this is interesting,.. cause I wonder about the criticism for this sort of thing in other mediums besides painting...this random, arbitrary arguement...

webthing said...

regard for the failed ideal is a very german thing let's not forget (from faust to neue wilde etc...) who knows really if that was his intent, he probably pretends he doesn't know for want of spoiling the work, however if at least rauch can open a can of worms, he does it as successfully as any other. this work prompted some interesting dialogue on this very thread even, reading QQ, WZX & A all chasing rauch back into his paralingual slumber and coming out with some interesting angles has been enjoyable, perhaps at times more incisive than a read of the NYT. he isn't the only painter, but certainly his pale shine helps to offset the act of painting in 2007 and arguably beyond. hooray for distance and the dissolution of finality! whatever...

Old Guy said...

The annotated works of Billy Joel… Sylvester Stallone… gratifying to hear a younger generation continues to steep itself in the classics.
But if tastes seem a little stagnant down at Cabaret Algal, might be just a lack of circulation.
Sometimes you need to step back at least as far as the suburbs before you hear more than the lyrics/lecture/story.
Course it won’t look or sound like nothing you’ve ever known – not for a while –
But you’re going to have to go that far before you can even make the call, get it?
Now quite bitching about the bread for once and move it!
You don’t have to be a parent to learn from your juniors.
How corny is that?

zipthwung said...

red tide!!!!

b said...

But why is "conservative" good taste and not bad?

And I don't need a "punchline" and I definitely don't want to see Rauch "go all out." As several other posters suggested.

What's great about Rauch is his stoic viewpoint. It's what makes you keep wanting more. It's what makes everyone keep lookin for a punchline that doesn't exist. He's teasing you, but that's ok.

I don't want to see paintings all day long that do nothing but "go all out" and have punch lines. Sometimes that's ok. But I love this kind of semi realistic based in reality yet completely unreal ...warped yet very restrained and understated reality. Especially when well executed. The tension between the two drives me nuts and that's a good thing. In my mind.

Quisquilloso said...
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Mookerjee said...

Ireally like the fetid color in all of these paintigs at the Met

zipthwung said...

magical realism is magical realism. I don't know if magical realism is surrealism though. They both kind of deal with the paranormal if not as subject, then surely as subject matter - so I'm saying its a spectrum, and the dark side is occulted by the viewers relation to the canvas, which provides a large shield for your eyes against the terror of a blank white wall.

I think its disingeuous to say you are against surrealism when you uses its tropes and profess to be an "automatic" painter without a preconceived notion of what you are going to paint. Many non-surrealists use the latter praxis, but not every painter decides to have surreal fires with no discernable cause-effect relationship.

also, the unexploded ordinance is a sure sign that the magic circle is intact.

But this eclipses the real issue, that of marketshare for an academic painter who, though lacking the pithy punchline of Tansey (I can go either way) is not any smarter nor dumber, nor more historical nor more qualitatively superior except maybe in the aforementioned paint handling, though even that strikes me as a bit of a contrivance (I don't doubt that Tansey could paint a little thicker and I wouldnt be surprised If theres a palette knife or two in his arsenal.

What does style mean anyways? And what does it mean to use one style to the exclusion of all others, despite conceptual leanings? Is that not like being a cinning linguist who chooses to speak only in the latin of his teachers?

Quisquilloso said...
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Quisquilloso said...
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Thousand Points of Light said...

That’s a wonderful photoshop riff you have there.

I'm still lurking around.

I understand your issue with NR’s relationship to surrealism. My interest in his work has been less about the ostensible figuration than in the larger framework of the paintings, and how they relate to time and landscape.

you said:
---Maybe I'm just not percepive enough for this new landscape that straddles the modern and the postmodern. But the large one with firemen and the hose running between one's legs, the "Father" painting with a large man holding a smaller adult man, the gold mine painted by a man who digs up dreams into art - I'm not saying it's bad, but it feels somewhat familiar.---

I agree. However, I don’t think until NR hit the scene big did the particular fracture of late 20th century GDR really, clearly have its painter. Certainly there is/was precursors, but you didn’t get it in the package that could be shipped out. And the early work really did seem different and new, and certainly different from NY painting. And now maybe its getting too familiar.

At the end of R. Smith’s NYT piece, she said:
---He concluded his second New York show in 2002 at the David Zwirner Gallery, then in SoHo, with a painting that is unlike anything else he has shown in New York. A large landscape devoid of people or architecture, “Field” depicts a plunging expanse of deep red earth, first broken into chunks and then tilled, this difference marked by four barren shrubs. The image was built of four strong colors laid on thick and without fuss. For me this painting hangs over Mr. Rauch’s career like a beacon. He still has time to heed it.---

I think she’s getting at the landscape and framework elements in his work as encapsulated in the piece she refers to. The figures remain problematic it seems for many, including myself to a degree.
I’ve always been struck by his paintings, as well as all the younger germans, that grab that flattened german landscape where things just seem to fade off in the distance. In multiple visits to germany, I’ve always been immediately struck by that feeling, and I think these paintings capitalize on it often to good effect.

Solthra said:
---There aren't many "schools" of art out there in the current stylistic chaos... I think for a lot of people it's kind of a relief to see something that could actually be characterized as a movement...?---

Indeed. You have to give them credit, that they put this thing together, as loath as NY painters are to do so.

Nat said:

--As for the market, at the recent L.A. auction, Sotheby's or Christie's, Peter Doig reached the number 2 position for highest auction price for a living artist, behind Jasper Johns or Rauschenberg.---

Isn't the market is out of its mind? All value has been parsed from it; complete speculation reigns. Too many people with too much money chasing a limited quantity with very questionable quality. Will a Doig or Patek watch hold the value? I’d pick the watch.

Cross said...

Doig or Patek... time will tell.

Old Guy said...

It’s surprising to hear so many trying to pin Surrealism on Rauch. Something is going to be pinned on him naturally, but Surrealism never seemed the most obvious candidate to me. I don’t see anything vaguely Ernst, Magritte or Dali-like about his stuff, much less Matta, Masson or Miro-like.

When I first saw Rauchs (in repro) around 2000 they struck me as a bit like early R B Kitaj – that was when Rauch was very linear and contained more signage or text – and then as they got more improvisational and painterly, I thought he was going to turn into a sort of 50s Larry Rivers – in a Washington Crossing The Delaware/ The Studio way. That kind of incompleteness was a big deal in the 50s. Maybe it was existential.

I wonder if some of the urging here for Rauch to cut loose more, might be sensing this direction?
But all this is just to point out other precedents in there, the richness that can easily result in mediocrity – one very slow bandwagon too many – or just the right combination.
It doesn’t surprise me so many are reluctant to be sold on the stuff – I have reservations, a bit like those of webthing – but I think I can see why he’s flavor of the month.

nat said...

Not to get mushy, but I don't see any fear, love or hatred in these things. Plenty of brilliant painting though, from whence comes the comment about rhapsodic complacency, I'd guess. I also like a detached grandeur but these don't have that either.

The "propaganda poster" aspect, or social realist type figures have seemed a bit like magritte apples, objects put out of context. Perhaps this is why Roberta Smith cited the landscape painting as a promising direction or why these are like surrealist paintings but with the figures, rather than random objects, the symbolic characters placed in strange settings.

In this painting the male and female figures on the right seem to possess a little more humanity or pathos(is that a bad thing?)than some of his other characters, though.

QQ mentioned Goya's Capriccios(caprichos). Those are so different from other history painting, Rauch included, because the drama, tragedy, is actually present in the figures themselves(some more than others) and a lengthy text is not needed to "read" the image.(Assuming some basic background in Western European image making, etc.) I think this is why QQ would contrast those with Rauch, the impact is there in the image and doesn't need some explanatory text to wow the post-modernly educated mind. If it aint in the painting then it aint in the painting...its in the book and go read the book.

webthing said...

Cliche #23

je ne sais quoi = dialogue

dialogue = value

value = crit

crit = cred

cred = judgement

judgement seeks to 'pin', but the longer it takes to pin, the longer it lasts. the longer it lasts the more it costs. the cycle is up when we know, the matador stabbed the bull, or vice versa, time to go home. good work might not be known for 50 years, and even then. that's the implied meaning of this splitting modern from contemporary debarcle. give NR his 50, squashed down for now. then what? everything falls into place, or is forgotten...is he memorable and how much of an audience has he addressed? i can conjure images of his work in my head in a flash and i don't even particularly like his work, though sometimes i could, bla bla bla, carry on...

Quisquilloso said...
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batswap said...

compare to this


this is why americans love this work, it props up our heritage. It is not just soviet, it is American, and that makes goood financial sense

waste said...

qq and others: is it fair to say that you are uncomfortable with figuration that asks for interpretation? Allegory?

It seems to me that academic is what academies teach. Most of the work I see in galleries in the States seems academic to me because the artists are doing variations on what they were taught in american academies matters.

For me Smith's review in the Times made clear her formalist background and her continuing (maybe unconscious) loyalty to it. I also think she doesn't like NR succeeding without her. Her argument about the work being middlebrow is laughable, given a great deal of the work she supports, and seems mostly about her concerns about her elite authority. She pretty much failed to address any of the content in the paintings.

waste said...

And using terms like surrealism is a convenient and contemptuous way to dismiss work without trying to understand it- looking at broad categories, rather than individual works. To me it shows an acceptance of received history.

What does surrealism mean? Are Bellmer and de chirico the same?

Desert Island Painter said...

Surreallism, as it pertains to the translating of one's own dream imagery or particular neuroses into painted imagery, is not for long very interesting. Ever listen to someone drone on about their crazy dream last night, or worse, their acid trip stories? However, I think many contemporary painters (incl. Rauch) are employing surreallist painting strategies, constructing uncanny spaces/scapes with non-naturalistic, even absurd components, seemingly non-sensical or contradictory "punchlines." Why? My guess/hope is there's some desire to make work that is interested in something outside of the solipsistic musing of ones's own head/painting's own history and inside jokes and to point to the familiar but often disorienting/disillisioning/unnaturalstic goings-on of the contemporary socio-political sphere. Neo does a good job of harkening up a sense of history, and the regional socio-political neuroses of his homeland, but I often feel mired in the "I had the craziest dream last night," sensation when I look at these paintings. Perhaps, as suggested above, I just don't "get it" all yet. But his painting moves are intriguing and titillating enough to keep me looking. Perhaps it is that sense of unfulfillment, alluding to but teasing out of meaning(s) that ultimately pleases us painter/viewers, since many of us talk about not wanting to deliver "too easy" or quick of a punchline or be overly didactic in our own work.

Aaron said...

I don't think it's dismissive to call this surreal or magical realist - though the words is loaded.

Its not about melting clocks or spontaneous combustion. its not about collaging time and space or depicting tesseracts. its not about failed revolution or the last suppers of eternal return.

Its about a mood, a room tone -something this painting and all others like it share.

I don't see anything that references (critiques) that allegorical mood - tone in this painting, in the object itself. There is no transcendence from the academic, the banal. In that sense it is surrealism as absorbed by the spectacle - a Baudrillardian NULL - by its abscence it points to the non existent presence.

You may try to burn this painting with the fires of intellectual insight, but it remains a big zero.

Quisquilloso said...
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Aaron said...

I read a definition of middlebrow as someone with lowbrow tastes who aspires to highbrow tastes.

Like NPR listeners who really enjoy the book reviews but don't have time to read anything because The Soprano's is on.

Which is where we start talking about the cannon.

It is encouraging to see something that looks German instead of internationally sucky. Reminds me of muralsa I've seen - on is at this college bar on seventh street in the east village called "blue and gold" - it used to be darker and there were these bavarians blowing horns - easy to overlook.

Cross said...

...painter, pleeze help us move on...

zipthwung said...

But Taguba also recalled thinking, “Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There’s no way he’s suffering from C.R.S.—Can’t Remember Shit. He’s trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves.”

Old Guy said...

Smith also thinks Germans are very facetious (her review of Lupertz last month) or maybe that’s passive/aggressive or just plain old deadpan.
Anyway she knows when there’s more to tone than a punch line, and she doesn’t want to be it.
Ever get the feeling you’re now the hunted rather than hunter?
Is there one and only always right interpretation for NR? Clearly not. If there were, it would hardly be art - might just be a joke.
Can we assign him a place in art history ? Only for the next 15 minutes.
Why bother? Because that next 15 minutes are quite enough.
Where do we draw the line between form and content – how the foot looks as opposed to what the foot is? There are many distinguished theories devoted to this stuff and they’re generally regarded as highbrow territory.
Artists regularly redraw that line and call it style.
When Rosenquist first showed he was called a Magritte of the Mid-West – seems absurd now, but at the time they seemed like the most convenient/appropriate labels. No one was too worried about his theory or intellectual ambition, probably because there were theorists and intellectuals to provide that at some point.

Cooky Blaha said...

magical realism is more pejorative than surrealist please stop tacking on these defunct terms.thanks

Aaron said...

AU contraire cb, there's a well respected literary tradition, as I'm sure you are aware. Ah yes, literature.

Borges "El jardin de senderos que se bifurcan" is a much referenced story, and one which apparently, and ironicly, has but one interpretation.

At least to some.

And this then segues us to the way of the many possible worlds theory , the Zombie Argument (quite interesting) and a whole other can of PARA-Doxias.

and Gabriel García Márquez, who confessed, "My most important problem was destroying the lines of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic."

to borrow from wikipedia.

Actually, sci-fi is now "speculative fiction" set in the future or an alternate past or present, I suppose....

but none of that is in the painting - lets go back to the Zombie argument.

Old Guy said...

Most myths are set in the past.

Old Guy said...

Surely fiction by definition is speculative?

ron said...

Please move on to the next feature artist. This painting is as dead as a doornail.

zipthwung said...

And please eschew the conservative.


The Core Audience

andrew said...

lots to learn from this artist

Hans said...

The clue to Rauch and the other younger East Germans is not Surrealism but Courbet. You have them in front of you in the Metropolitan. But as a Courbet could be a source of inspiration even today, Rauch creates a balanced mystical and slick meaningless theater of everything, playing formless with chewing gum myths. Zero. In that tradition of meta speaking on meta levels he is also a typical East German, as that was essential to survive comfortable with a little personal private opposition in the socialist system of GDR. Leipzig was the most state-system-supporting art school out of the three or four( Dresden, Berlin, Halle, Chemnitz ) and this ghost of 1 step ahead and 2 back is still a bit in the heads of the Leipzig successors, I think. In contrary the Russian (Soviet) Artists developed a much more radical and risking approach and this works even today with their successors more convincing, at least for me. The irony is that one of the smartest opposer of the former GDR system was Judy Lybke (EigenArt), without whom Rauchs success today wouldn't exist, as he works with his artists, as the sculptor with his clay. I really indulge Judy his success today. (Ich gönne es ihm.)