A wild and savage beauty

Berlin 1989, the third of three exhibitions curated by Luca Beatrice, focuses on the art created in the German capital in the run-up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The art that set the scene for a momentous historical event is featured in Berlin 1989, an exhibition at Gallerie d’Italia in Naples, to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin 1989 traces the story of the German art scene during the years that culminated in the capital city’s reunification in 1989.

In reaction to the concept art and minimal art of previous generations, German painting returned to a more figurative form of expression in the Eighties. Young artists such as Rainer Fetting, Helmut Middendorf and Bernd Zimmer had found refuge in the Galerie am Moritzplatz in Kreuzberg, a self-managed space they had opened in Berlin in 1977.

Their style of rebel painting was inspired by current affairs, rock music and punk culture as well as political and artistic movements – a heady mix of the highs and lows of postmodernity.

A subjective, carefree form of Neo-Expressionist painting with a strong narrative structure took shape. It was dubbed Neue Wilde (or New Savages), and was as much in vogue in the art market as it was in galleries and museums.

Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer became the first established artists of that movement in the early Eighties, with Karl Horst Hödicke, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, Martin Disler, Siegfried Anzinger and Albert Oehlen representing the second generation.

Berlin 1989 completes the triptych of exhibitions curated by Luca Beatrice, dedicated to the three cities that changed the history of art (the first two being The Thousand Lights of New York in 2017 and London Shadow in 2018). It catalogues the aesthetic revolution that took place in the German capital, which acted as a gateway to a wider social revolution.

Berlin 1989 runs to January 19, 2020 at Gallerie d’Italia in Naples.