PRINT November 1970

American Art in Germany

THE ACCEPTANCE—AND APPRECIATION—OF contemporary art has become increasingly more sophisticated in Germany. Fifteen years ago when the First Documenta was held in Kassel, the scale of sponsorship now known would have been unimaginable. Today, it is almost unsurpassable. During the past three years, certain galleries have assumed leadership; prominent collectors have bought art on a grandiose scale; Cologne has emerged as a powerful art center. What is especially remarkable is that many museums are proudly displaying recent art (and they are nobly being assisted with the cooperation of collectors); many artists are not only traveling to Germany to work, but they are leaving their best efforts there; and much of the most interesting recent New York painting and sculpture is now there and prominently available.

It hardly seems possible that a country so recently ravaged by war and destruction and a leader who labeled all progressive art degenerate could so quickly have recovered culturally. The theme of Documenta I (July 15–September 18, 1955) was “Twentieth Century Art” and the works on view had nothing to do with developing art but much to do with developed art: Beckmann, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, Kirchner, Klee, Chagall, Leger, Matisse, Miró, Picasso. Although selections were from Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, and America, the emphasis was not at all on international art, but instead, stressed national directions. The plates and checklist material, for example, were arranged by nationalities which, of course, emphasized distinctions rather than shared concerns (German Expressionism vs. Ecole de Paris). And rather than works by First Generation New York artists––Albers and Calder were the only two “Americans” represented––a similar mode of painting by Frenchmen such as Bazine, Hartung, and Soulages was chosen for exhibition.

During the following four years, or before Documenta II in 1959, developments in the New York art world affected the organization of subsequent exhibitions, not only in America but abroad as well. Although the acceptance of First Generation art by 1957 was even evidenced by the “New Academy,” the spirit of their endeavors was being altered. At a time when a Second Generation of the New York School was being heralded, artists were appearing who would soon effect a change of climate. Jasper Johns, Kenneth Noland, and Ellsworth Kelly, for example, had their first one-man shows during 1957 and Leo Castelli and André Emmerich that year opened their highly influential galleries. At the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the new department of International Programs was assuming new responsibilities. “We have certainly come a long way from 1960” [and especially 1957], Hilton Kramer observed in January 1970. “That year,” the New York Times critic continued, “it was just beginning to be respectable again to paint a picture with geometric forms; the revival of art nouveau was just beginning; Clement Greenberg had not yet published Art and Culture, an entire generation of critics was still in undergraduate school; 10th Street was still an issue; Willem de Kooning seemed to many the center of the universe.”

As the decade of the fifties was ending in Germany, Documenta II (July 11–October 11, 1959) was held. The theme of this second exposition was “Art Since 1959” and now this was an “international exhibition.” Painting, sculpture and graphics were displayed at the Museum Fridericianum, the Orangerie, and the Belleuleschloss, respectively, and a four volume catalog was issued. Werner Haftmann, who wrote an essay for the first Documenta, also contributed to this second one a discussion on “Painting Since 1945”––but others also commented on sculpture and graphics as well. Alphabetical entries in the catalog replaced the earlier nationalistic system for distinctions. Moreover, besides a checklist and plates, portrait photographs of the artists often accompanied their entries (the custom of printing the photographs of artists continues to distinguish German art publications from those of other countries). Thirty-five American artists, selected by Porter A. MacCray, then director of the International Program at the Museum of Modern Art, were included among the 219 painters and sculptors seen at Documenta II. Baziotes, Bluhm, Calder, de Kooning, Goldberg, Kline, and Lassaw were exhibitors but so also were Frankenthaler, Hofmann, Motherwell, Newman, Pollock, Rauschenberg, Rothko, and Smith. The Sidney Janis Gallery which had been the only American art gallery participating in the 1955 exposition was this time joined by both Castelli and Emmerich. Two generations of American art had met.

In 1960, soon after Documenta II, Rudolf Zwirner, a commanding young German who had served as secretary of the exposition, opened a gallery in Essen. His was one of the few avant-garde galleries in Germany; another, opened in 1956 in Düsseldorf, was run by Alfred Schmela. Their isolated activity was no less isolated than the situation in general in Europe. There were few bastions of the new art anywhere on the continent, but these places were making themselves felt as the Ecole de Paris was collapsing. In Paris, Daniel Cordier had arranged one-man shows in his gallery for both Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. In Paris also, Lawrence Rubin, like Zwirner, was in the early days of his gallery activities and was also specializing in Surrealist art. Pontus Hulten in Stockholm and William Sandburg in Amsterdam became involved in promoting contemporary art in their respective museums, the Moderna Museet and the Stedelijk.

In 1961, Hulten sponsored a show of “Four Americans: Johns, Leslie, Rauschenberg, and Stankiewicz.” Of the Abstract Expressionist painter, junk sculptor, and two “new realists,” Johns and Rauschenberg had the most telling effect. Their art was the most timely. “ The New Realists” was held at the Janis Gallery from October 31–December 1, 1962 and the art in the show was seized on by the media, who heralded Johns and Rauschenberg as important early figures in this “movement.”

When Ileana Sonnabend opened her gallery in Paris in the early ’60s, Johns and Rauschenberg were her stars but she was also instrumental in arranging exhibitions throughout Europe of other artists––Pop artists––whom she regularly exhibited. The first of these was “The Popular Image” seen at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London from October 24–November 23, 1963. Included besides Johns and Rauschenberg were excellent examples (classics today) of work by Dine, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Rosenquist, Warhol, and Wesselmann. Accompanying the small, illustrated catalog was a short, explanatory text by Alan Solomon. Soon afterwards, Pop exhibitions appeared all over Europe, beginning in February, 1964, at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; later, in Amsterdam, The Hague, Vienna, Berlin, and Brussels.

Then, during the summer of 1964, amidst these traveling Pop shows, Documenta III opened in Kassel, and in Venice, the 32nd Biennale appeared. Documenta III (June 27–October 5, 1964) could hardly be considered progressive; yet, the organizers did recognize that art was being made in 1964. Documenta III was where the old guard met their younger colleagues. Like the first of these expositions, traditional modern European masters were given representation. There were, in addition, two sections depicting post-War developments. New and different was the section devoted to “Aspects of 1964” (and another on technological art). With few advanced painters and sculptors actually included among the 85 participants of this group (the handful numbered Joseph Beuys, Anthony Caro, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Morris Louis, and Robert Rauschenberg), the attempt to display recent art was nevertheless eventful. Indeed, the 225 artists seen at this exposition were even selected by an international jury––Arnold Bode, Will Grohmann, and Werner Haftmann from Germany, Jasia Reichardt from England, and Peter Selz from the U.S.A. Continuing to be accepted as a spokesman for the art community, Werner Haftmann once again contributed an essay for the three volume catalog (Haftmann was by then the respected author of the two volume book, Painting in the Twentieth Century). At Documenta III, paintings and sculptures were shown and so were drawings by contemporary artists. One further internationalization at Documenta III was the cooperation of a more advanced group of “new” collectors: Walter Bareiss from Munich; Karl Stroher from Darmstadt; the Abrams Family Collection, Ben Heller, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Scull, all from New York.

Concurrently with Documenta III, the 32nd Biennale in Venice was attracting much attention. Robert Rauschenberg’s First Prize Award was for many observers a crucial event in international art circles––the Americans had scored a coup (that he was an American artist became even more significant than the fact that he was named Robert Rauschenberg). Alan Solomon, the American commissioner that year, had selected Rauschenberg to be seen with Jasper Johns, Kenneth Noland, and Morris Louis (the latter two had their work displayed in a separate pavilion). Also sponsored by the United States Information Agency were “younger” artists who included Claes Oldenburg and Frank Stella. Not only commanding attention plastically and pictorially, the Americans were further in evidence physically. Enthusiastic, polyglot art dealer Leo Castelli was available for discussions about the artists he represented. His gallery’s stable moreover shared many names with Ileana Sonnabend who was acting as the European dealer for many Americans. Curiously, Lawrence Rubin, who by this time was representing many figures concerned with Post-Painterly Abstraction (including in Venice, Stella and Noland), was not as actively promoting the paintings and sculptures with which he was stocking his own private collection. So, not only were Noland and Louis separated from the display area with Johns and award-winner Rauschenberg, but significantly, exponents of their views (other than the pictures themselves) were also further removed from the art scene in Venice. Combined with the large traveling Pop art show and the absence of active interest in focusing attention and directing explanations about Post-Painterly Abstraction, many Europeans became more interested in Pop art.

Then, within two years, at the 33rd Biennale in Venice, a similar situation repeated itself. Roy Lichtenstein was one of four Americans (the others were Helen Frankenthaler, Jules Olitski, and Ellsworth Kelly) selected by Henry Geldzahler for the U.S. pavilion. Once more, Leo Castelli was there and so too was Ileana Sonnabend. Voices praising Pop art were once again being heard while once more a few knowledgeable personalities were championing the more difficult non-figurative paintings. Ironically, the bilingual (Italian/English) catalog available at the American pavilion is a classic of short, critical essays. It includes pieces by William Rubin on Frankenthaler, Geldzahler on Kelly, Robert Rosenblum on Lichtenstein, Clement Greenberg on Olitski. Unfortunately for the transmission of information, the catalog was almost a total failure––the Italian guards at the American section did not readily provide visitors with the free, illustrated catalog. While in America in 1966, non-figurative painting was attracting more attention once again, this was not so in Europe where new collectors and new personalities were becoming active. For example, the knowledgeable Wolfgang Hahn, restorer at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne, began to assemble a small but good—and representative—collection of Pop items.

Moreover, by this time, Schmela and Zwirner (who had moved his gallery to Cologne in 1962) had been joined by some younger colleagues. Heiner Friedrich, with Franz Dahlem, began gallery operations in Munich in 1963. Rolf Ricke opened a gallery in Kassel in 1964. Though, like the beginning of almost any gallery, their early activities were hardly significant, they were there. Furthermore, they were educating themselves. Zwirner, Ricke, and Friedrich were making trips to America, meeting artists and collectors. Soon, they began to realize that they could buy art directly in New York rather than, say, from Ileana Sonnabend, who had been controlling and directing the market in Europe. Ricke, for example, made arrangements with a New York gallery to exhibit works by some of their artists.

It was during one of these excursions, late in ’67, that Heiner Friedrich heard about the availability of the Kraushar estate. Leon Kraushar, who had been an insurance broker, had had a fabulous Pop art collection and soon after he died, in 1967, his wife decided to sell it. Karl Stroher, who had been increasingly more interested in contemporary art––and in the artists exhibiting at the Friedrich Gallery in Munich––bought the collection at bargain prices in January 1968. After the collection was adjusted to Stroher’s taste, plans were arranged to circulate his recent purchases: the newly-bought collection with its Pop art, the work of Joseph Beuys which Stroher had bought en masse from a Beuys retrospective, the work of younger German artists only recently appearing and his few abstract works as well as several “specific” objects.

The “Sammlung 1968 Karl Stroher” traveled to Berlin, Düsseldorf, and Bern. Then it returned to Darmstadt and the Hessischen Landesmuseum, where it is seen today as the Bildnerische Ausdrucksformer 1960–1970. While a modern museum is being prepared for the still-growing collection, it is housed in an excellent installation, well-lit and well-hung. In certain instances, particularly Beuys’s rooms and Oldenburg’s Bedroom ensemble, the artists have installed their work themselves. Beuys’s objects are especially effective. A single work seen in Aachen, Cologne, or Krefeld seems more pretty than brutal, more like art about art than art about other matters. Piled high, crowded in old-fashioned wooden display cases, and all clustered together, the metals and lards and greases and unsightly objects of decay and destruction disgust. If it seems impossible that art could be political or that it could even have a moral message, those rooms filled with Beuys’s materials contradict any notion of this. Seen alone, esthetic judgments would be negative; seen as they are seen in Darmstadt, esthetic judgments become irrelevant.

Curiously, though Stroher owns few non-figurative paintings, it is the Louis, the Noland and the Stella which greet the entering visitor to the wing of the museum with his collection. Nevertheless, in the next room is a fabulous survey of the work of Andy Warhol. Fine examples (18) excellently permit the spectator to see just what his art has been about and the same can be said for the room filled with the paintings of Roy Lichtenstein. The serial approach of both painters has affected the art of grand scale collecting, almost like baseball trading cards. With examples of work by Rosenquist, Segal, Indiana, Wesselmann, and Dine, this collection permits the spectator to even better understand Pop art. And with the works of Andre and Flavin, Chamberlain and Judd, the spectator comes to see the best of the activities of the Green, Dwan, Janis, and Castelli galleries during the 1960s.

Recently, a coffee-table book, a bilingual (German/English) catalog of the collection has been published.* The essays are incredibly unsophisticated,
while the documentation is extraordinarily precise. With practically all illustrations in color, the entries are an art historian’s dream (this is a country whose most important art historians fled during the war to Harvard’s Fogg and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts). Exhibition and literature notices about individual works are printed, as are bibliographies on the artists and selections from previously published statements the artists have made.

In contrast to the elegant, magnificent edition presenting the Stroher Collection is the earlier publication celebrating the little more than 3-year-old Ludwig Collection, installed in Cologne at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. The plates are mounted on heavy brown paper; photographs of the artists are transposed on transparent plastic sheets; the vinyl, see-through cover is bound like a high school notebook. All this represents the contemporary character of the art illustrated (although this is a coffee-table book, it contradicts one’s notion of how a coffee table book should look). Indeed, thevery appearance of this weighty catalog underscores the character of the collection; it emphasizes Ludwig’s continuing participation in the art scene. This “tome” furthermore is now in its fourth edition. First printed in February 1969, subsequent editions were published in May 1969, October 1969, and May 1970.

As a record of the “Art of the Sixties,” as it is entitled, this collection reveals a particular view of the past decade. Unlike Stroher’s mass-purchased collection, Ludwig has accumulated a more individualized selection of paintings and sculptures from America, Germany, France, England, and Italy. The emphasis is on paintings of a figurative persuasion (Pop predominates) while the sculptures tend to
be non-representational. Since an enormous selection of Lichtenstein and Warhol paintings also abounds in Ludwig’s collection, if his were joined with Stroher’s, an extraordinary record of their careers would be revealed. Indeed, no one can ever seriously study Warhol or Lichtenstein without visiting both Cologne and Darmstadt. And the two collections combined contribute immeasurably to a portrayal of Pop art in general; for example, although Ludwig only owns three Dine paintings and a sculpture of three parts, these works would have enhanced the Whitney Dine retrospective. The three Rosenquist works in his collection Rainbow, Forest Ranger, and Horse Binders––would have presented a more thorough understanding of his art if they had been included in the Metropolitan Museum’s New York School exhibition (if the Scull Collection with Rosenquist’s F-111 were ever sold to the Germans, Rosenquist, like Warhol and Lichtenstein, would have to be studied there, too).

In Germany, art commentators discuss the virtues of the Stroher and Ludwig Collections. It is clear that Ludwig is a different breed of collector than those in the United States. Once he has purchased an art work, it is installed in a museum, readily available to the public. This is not done as a public monument, but as a public service. The Ludwig Collection of the two, is more erratic—though not eclectic. Along with the major figures of Pop art, he has purchased works by Ron Davis and Larry Bell, Kienholz and Tinguely, Gnoli and Klapheck, Marisol and Nevelson. These works literally sprawl throughout the museum (whose collection includes masterworks by Stephan Lochner, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Gogh, Kirchner, and Klee). Curiously, like Stroher’s installation, it is the few Post-Painterly Abstraction works (Stella, Louis, Noland, and Kelly) which a visitor encounters upon entering the museum. Also displayed in the great hall are sculptures by Andre, Morris, and Judd.

Ludwig, who is one of the principal candy manufacturers in Germany, received a Ph.D. in art history (his dissertation was on “The Image of Man in Picasso’s Paintings”). His collection has been ambitiously assembled from his own taste and sensibility. Nevertheless, some of his recent purchases have been affected by paintings and sculptures handled by Rudolf Zwirner (Louis, Noland, Segal) and Rolf Ricke (Serra, Sonnier, Stafford, and Stein). Possibly, these two men serve as guides to the types of art which Germans would like to see. Ludwig’s frequent trips to New York have furnished him with other art works and some other acquisitions were purchased from art that Stroher foolishly sold from the Kraushar Collection. The art exhibited at Documenta IV also provided him with additions to his collection.

Unlike the earlier versions of this exposition, the art seen in Kassel in 1968 (June 27–October 6) was contemporary, recent, new. Paintings and sculptures at this “international exhibition” reflected new interpretations of “international.” Art was seen from Germany, England, France, Italy, Poland, and Japan (Beuys, Caro, Cesar, Gnoli, Graubner, Hamilton, Kolar, Riley, Tajiri, Tapies), but the proportion of American representation had changed since Documenta I in 1955. Of 117 participants 45 were Americans. The selection, furthermore, was wide ranging, indicating that Germans were aware of more artists than just the Pop painters and sculptors. Exhibited at Documenta IV were art works by many not represented in German museums: Bladen, di Suvero, Diller, Newman, Olitski, Poons, and David Smith.

The new structure and choice of selections at Documenta IV denotes the changing cultural interests in Germany––a concern with contemporary art rather than past art. The new galleries represent one force (Ricke, Zwirner, and Friedrich all lent to Documenta IV). Though few Germans express an admiration for Das Kunstwerk, an art magazine run by a group of artists, it nevertheless reflects certain shared interests. It published special issues in 1964 on Documenta III and the 32nd Venice Biennale; in 1965, on the New Abstraction ; in 1966, on the New York Scene (with photographs of dealers in their galleries and artists in their lofts; openings and installation shots). Yet, principally, the new art was selected by a new administration comprising people from a younger generation. Karl Branner and Arnold Bode still participated, but essays this time were also contributed by Max Imdahl and Jean Leering who wrote on Pop art and Post-Painterly Abstraction, respectively. And new collectors, with a new awareness and outlook, generously cooperated with the organizers: Richard Bellamy, Carter Burden, Eugene Schwartz, and David Whitney, all from New York; Ludwig and Stroher; Panza di Biumo, Peeters, Schniewind fromother European countries.

For the promotion of international art in Germany, an auspicious moment occurred in 1967 when 18 galleries organized themselves as the Association of Progressive German Art Dealers. Responsible for much art seen in Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Esslingen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Kassel, Munich, and Stuttgart, they chose Cologne as the site for an annual Kunstmarkt. Though lasting only five days in October, this art fair still means that Documenta, held every four years in Kassel, is not the only opportunity afforded the general German public to see new developments in painting and sculpture. Indeed, the response to the first Kunstmarkt in 1967, whose exhibitors included Rene Block, Muller, Neuendorf, Ricke, Schmela, and Zwirner, was more than encouraging for an initial venture––15,000 visitors in less than a week. This fair was a financial success as well. Besides the sales aspects, an exhibition also was held with no more than three artists from each gallery. Significantly, five of the 18 galleries only showed foreign artists.

Twenty galleries participated during Kunstmarkt 1968. Friedrich, who had rented special space when his gallery was not included in the ’67 events, was among the new exhibitors and a few foreign galleries were invited as guests (including dell’ Ariete, Milan; Denise Rene, Pari s; Leo Castelli, Richard Feigen, and Fischbach, all from New York).

During the 1969 Kunstmarkt, over 50,000 visitors attended. In addition to the 22 gallery booths, a magnificent special exhibition, “One Tendency of Contemporary Art,” was organized by Rolf Ricke. Presenting aspects of Color Field painting, 1960–1969, the participants were Jo Baer, Darby Bannard, Dan Christensen, Lee Lozano, Alan Cote, Gotthard Graubner, Allan Hacklin, Ralph Humphrey, Morris Louis, Clarke Murray, Kenneth Noland, William Pettet, Larry Poons, Lawrence Stafford, Lewis Stein, John Walker, and Peter Young. Though this exhibition––certainly one of the most interesting and progressive non-figurative shows held anywhere in the world recently––was considered a failure (there are no further plans for other shows like this one to be held in conjunction with a Kunstmarkt), it is necessary to recognize that most of the paintings seen during the three week installation are now owned by Germans, to be seen in Germany.

At the ’69 Fair, Konrad Fischer represented Carl Andre, Mel Bochner, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandback, Robert Smithson, and Lawrence Weiner; Heiner Friedrich also had work by Andre, Bochner, LeWitt, Ryman and Sandback, and in addition, his list included Dan Flavin, Mike Heizer, Don Judd, Walter de Maria, Andy Warhol, and La Monte Young; Ricke promoted Richard Artschwager, Jo Baer, Bill Bollinger, Robert Breer, Alan Cote, Gary Kuehn, Lee Lozano, Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, Lawrence Stafford, Robert Watts, and Peter Young; Zwirner had work by Dan Christensen, Jim Dine, Allan Hacklin, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, Robert Graham, Neil Jenney, Bruce Nauman, and George Segal.

Twenty-eight galleries participated in Kunstmarkt ’70, and many of them now maintain exhibition areas in Cologne besides the ones originally opened in other cities. Some dealers, it is said, sell more art during the five days of Kunstmarkt than during the remainder of the year, so that there is little doubt that because of the success of the fairs, Cologne has become the art capital of Germany. Before the fourth annual Kunstmarkt opened, plans were already being formulated for the 1971 edition. International galleries will be exhibitors, but no more than 50 galleries will be included so that any collector can see all the available art in one day. Given the sales successes at Kunstmarkt, should we start wondering how much American art will continue to stay in Germany?

Prospekt was begun in 1968 by art dealer Konrad Fischer and art critic Hans Strelow and has been held in Düsseldorf twice (although there will be none in 1970, it probably will re-appear in 1971). Unlike the commercial Kunstmarkt, the sole intention of this show is for the previewing of the forthcoming international art scene. At Prospekt, international galleries are invited to exhibit one or two young artists to represent their galleries (at the ’69 Prospekt, Lynda Benglis and Brice Marden showed for Bykert and Ron Cooper for Ace). However, those galleries are chosen which represent artists whom the selection committee would like to show (occasionally, invited galleries are even requested to send particular artists). Because art galleries nevertheless are the representatives for the artists, the opportunity to buy and sell is still possible. Because this show lasts for several weeks, however, there is a difference. At Kunstmarkt, dealers are always available at their booths; at Prospekt, after the opening days, many of the dealers––especially the foreign ones––leave the site of the Kunsthalle installation. Usually young painters and sculptors are shown in Düsseldorf. Thus, someone like Ron Cooper, who has not even had any showings in New York City, already has two works on permanent display in two different German museums. How much of the early careers of American artists will only be seen in Germany?

Since the autumn of 1967, a handful of gallery dealers have wielded a considerable influence in creating an art scene for American art in Germany. Rudolf Zwirner, who had been Sekretariat of Documenta II, has been located in Cologne for the past seven years. It is he who has been an extraordinary force in the creation and operation of Kunstmarkt, and thus, ultimately, for the emergence of Cologne as the dominant art center of Germany. His is considered by his colleagues to be a very special kind of gallery for the Rhineland, for his sales program and gallery exhibitions are not co-ordinated. His stock, stored in an upper floor showroom, includes modern European masters like Ernst and Magritte; contemporary German Surrealists like Klapheck and Klapheck’s teacher, Goller, American Pop artists and Color Field painters like Warhol, Segal, Morris Louis, and Noland. It is from items like these that he prospers while his street floor exhibitions of lesser known artists, many from America, attract the general viewing public.

While Cologne is the principal market in Germany, Düsseldorf is where the artists live (the distance between the two cities by car is, say, the equivalent of traveling from Manhattan to Brooklyn). One young Düsseldorf painter, wanting to know more about the process of art, chose to open a gallery to accomplish this. He was Konrad Fischer. Since his inaugural exhibition in October, 1967, his program has indeed educated the art community. The principal reason for this is that his artists come in person from America, England, and other German cities to specifically design or install exhibitions in his tiny gallery space (12 meters long by 3 meters wide by 4 meters high). His artists, principally object makers, environmentalists, and conceptualists, are available for discussions and they are there during their shows. Many of his international artists are also associated with the Dwan Gallery––Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Fred Sandback, Richard Long, Robert Smithson. (All had their first European shows in his establishment and Sandback and Long had their first one man shows there.) Also sponsored by the gallery have been Bruce Nauman, Robert Ryman, Daniel Buren, and Lawrence Weiner. Among the 34 exhibitions seen in his gallery since October, 1967, have been shows by many of the most interesting and promising young artists in Germany-Palermo, Klaus Rinke, and Ulrich Ruckriem.

Fischer, particularly, reflects an aspect of a German art historical sensibility. Documentation is very popular. Photographs and statements by artists have been one concomitant of this interest. An other has been the presentation of drawings. During April, 1970, Fischer opened a second, slightly larger gallery (s till of an exceptionally slender length) to specialize in the exhibition of drawings. So, unlike America (with the exception perhaps of the Finch College “Art in Process” exhibitions), more aspects of the realization of an art work are viewed, studied, and honored in Germany.

Rolf Ricke’s operations, since his move to Cologne from Kassel in early 1968, have, in some ways, been similar to Fischer’s. His artists arrive from America to work in Germany (with foreign materials at hand). There is an emphasis also on the documentation aspect of an art work. Originally a representative for the Phillips music organization in Europe, Ricke opened a gallery in Kassel in 1964 with no training or capital––but an enthusiastic interest. His first important breakthrough was experienced during his first trip to New York City when contacts with the then-public Bianchini Gallery were established. Instead of restricting himself any longer to lesser-known European artists, he developed access to better known Pop painters (during 1967 he held exhibitions of Richard Hamilton, Allan d’Arcangelo, Jim Dine, Bob Stanley, and Mimmo Rotella). Gary Kuehn and Bill Bollinger were also among Bianchini’s artists and they were the first of Ricke’s people to come to work directly in Germany. They still go there and both have become transmitters between interested German artists and their American colleagues.

But it is not for contacts with Biancliini, Pop, or traveling artists that Ricke’s gallery has become one of the most innovative in international art centers. Ricke has successfully sponsored and promoted some of the best of New York painters and sculptors before New Yorkers have been aware of them. Richard Serra, Peter Young, and Keith Sonnier were stars in his gallery before having had shows here. Dan Christensen and Nancy Graves have recently exhibited their newest—and quite outstanding—accomplishments in Ricke’s gallery. The paintings by Lee Lozano, Lawrence Stafford, Alan Cote, and Lewis Stein––while still in a germinal stage, nevertheless evidence that for some Germans, Color Field painting is as viable as Pop art (and it is important to keep in mind that Ricke himself began with Pop art). Richard Bellamy, a close friend of Ricke’s, is the one other art dealer who has reconciled opposing directions in his management and he was also the original American sponsor for many of Ricke’s artists. Advanced paintings and sculptures are not just seen for a moment at Ricke’s––or at Kunstmarkt––many are now in Ludwig’s collection at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne and at the Neue Galerie im Alten Kurhaus in Aachen. Thus, not only is their art seen by an interested community, it is available to the general public in august institutions.

The same opportunities have occurred for the artists whom Heiner Friedrich has directed. A persistent and knowledgeable man, Friedrich has operated his gallery from Munich, initially with Franz Dahlem. It was they who acted as representatives for Stroher in the Kraushar transaction and the Friedrich Gallery has continued to be a source for more recent additions to this industrialist’s collection. (Stroher has also recently traveled to see the earthworks in the Western states by Walter de Maria and Mike Heizer.) Friedrich, who has actively worked for Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Robert Ryman, Walter de Maria, Mike Heizer, and La Monte Young, frequently visits America. A former philosophy student, he has proven to be an extraordinarily perceptive and perspicacious dealer, buying visible and “hidden” treasures before Americans are with it. His recent purchases have included Andre’s Reef, a Robert Rauschenberg early black painting (it was in Betty Parsons’ storeroom), and several de Maria pieces, including Suicide, which many had thought to be in the permanent collection of Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum, where it had been on view. Friedrich has obtained rights to all of Andy Warhol’s films and is negotiating for a highly respected New York collection. Moreover, he is willing to help accomplish the “seemingly impossible.” Walter de Maria’s Dirst Ahow was in his Munich establishment and he arranged for Heizer’s Munich Depression. La Monte Young concerts have been held because of his unceasing labors (an LP record of one of those evenings has been cut).

In Friedrich’s new Cologne headquarters there is space provided for special events, especially for film programs. His new gallery is located at 20/22 Lindenstrasse, where a unique situation has developed. Sharing a common elevator and stairwell are, at the moment, six art galleries with space for even more. Ricke, Friedrich, Muller, and Neuendorf have exhibition space there and several have apartment facilities. Not only has a small art scene been built in, but the shared opening nights contribute an aura of excitement for the emerging art community.

Just as the artists these galleries represent are young, so are their dealers. Fischer, Ricke, and Friedrich are all in their thirties. They are a new generation championing the art of a new generation. New museum administrators, in turn, have responded to all these developments. They are exhibiting the works of art which people seem interested in seeing (as well as purchasing). Small community museums, all within an hour’s car ride of Cologne, are cooperating with the local galleries. Konrad Fischer frequently arranges exhibitions for Monchen Gladbach and Leverkusen display halls. Still other exhibitions go to Krefeld’s Haus Lange (an early ’20s house designed by Mies van der Rohe). There the program complements the superb permanent collection of Krefeld’s Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, one of the first museums to champion recent art. Having held, during the early ’60s, large shows of Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely, numerous examples of both their works are there. Also on view are excellent examples of the work of Morris Louis, John Chamberlain, Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, George Segal, and Roy Lichtenstein. And if this list of names seems orthodox or removed from a sense of buying “unrecognized art,” newer acquisitions convey how much readier and more prepared Germans are to buy recent American art than Americans, either museums or private collectors. Keith Sonnier, Richard Serra, Mike Heizer, Eva Hesse, Gary Kuehn, Ron Cooper, and Doug Wheeler are all represented in Krefeld. Moreover, except for the Heizer photo mounting (shown at the 1969 Whitney Annual), these works have not been seen in New York. Yet, the most advanced acquisitions are not even at the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, but in Aachen.

Just as his 19th-century namesake dominated the taste of Bavaria, Ludwig is copiously filling the museums of the Rhineland. In Aachen, where he lives, the recently opened Neue Galerie im Alten Kurhause (directed by Wolfgang Becker) is the recipient of Ludwig’s purchases. Some of the most exciting paintings made by young painters and sculptors are prominently displayed. Dan Christensen and Peter Young, for example, are represented by extraordinarily beautiful paintings. A room is filled with Nancy Graves’ powerful sculptures. There are even works by Ron Cooper, Chuck Close, and Sidney Tillim to be seen. Fine examples by Pop painters and sculptors are exhibited as are works by “Super-Realists” (many of these had first been installed at the Aachen-Suermondt Museum, which still contains items from Ludwig’s collection. Unlike many other museums with recent American art, the Neue Galerie im Alten Kurhaus also has many examples of work by young German artists.)

It is astonishing to see so much American art in Germany and it is unnerving to see New York art there before it is displayed in New York. Much of the art is so well-chosen that the pleasure of experiencing art is even more rewarding than in New York. To see work by contemporary masters, it is not necessary to have access to a private collector’s home; to see the most recent paintings and sculptures, it is not necessary to visit an art gallery or even an artist’s studio. American art––whether we recognize it or not––is now to be seen in museums in Germany.


All during the 1960s American art magazines made public, and analyzed, developments in American art as they happened. In Germany, no such features appeared. No words were written. Rather, in the rooms and halls of their museums, the paintings and sculptures were themselves visible. A cursory inventory of what was readily accessible to museum visitors in Aachen, Cologne, Darmstadt, and Krefeld (that is, those objects not included in privately viewed collections or art galleries or special exhibitions) would include sculptures by: Carl Andre (4); John Chamberlain (5); Dan Flavin (2); Don Judd (4); Walter de Maria (2); Robert Morris (4); Claes Oldenburg (18 plus one bedroom environment); George Segal (6) and paintings by: Jim Dine (5); Jasper Johns (5); Roy Lichtenstein (26); Morris Louis (5); Kenneth Noland (3); Robert Rauschenberg (9); James Rosenquist (5); Frank Stella (3); and Andy Warhol (31).

This brief list excludes not just items by other established artists but also those recent works available by younger and less established American painters and sculptors such as Dan Christensen, Nancy Graves, Eva Hesse, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Keith Sonnier, and Peter Young. These last named artists are particularly significant for an analysis of the art on view, for they make it apparent that German audiences have been seeing more than just Pop art. The ramifications of these publicly visible objects and of those artists who have traveled to Germany to work (Andre, Flavin, Graves, de Maria, Serra, and Sonnier, to name just a few), and of those large-scale collectors such as Peter Ludwig and Karl Stroher are significant not only to the development of art in the Cologne/Düsseldorf area but also to the activity of art makers in New York. Quite simply, a lot of art is no longer to be seen in New York, but it is in Germany.

Indeed, if the Museum of Modern Art were to ask artists of the 1960s to donate works to their collections as they did of First Generation painters and sculptors, there would not be masterworks to contribute as there had been among those artists. For not only are the Germans purchasing American art, but their buying is conducted with indisputable intelligence. Paying premium prices and not bargaining––they are receiving quality items. Names––or reputations as Walter Darby Bannard phrased it recently––are not being chosen per se. No Thank You (’64), whose $35,000 sale price Bannard criticized, is not a particularly good Lichtenstein but Takka Takka (’62), Ball of Twine (’63), Composition I (’64), Landscape (’64,) We Rose Up Slowly (’64), Yellow and Green Brushstrokes (’66), and Rauen Cathedral, Set II (’69) are. Similarly, George Segal’s Man in a Deck Chair (’68) is one of his least interesting compositions, but Woman Washing Her Feet in Sink (’64/’65) and The Legend of Lot (’66) are sensitive and compelling studies. Unlike certain university art galleries in America which select “characteristic” works of art for study purposes, German collections reveal to their audiences the very best to be seen.

Thus, there is art from which to develop. “Major art is impossible, or almost so,” Clement Greenberg has observed, “without a thorough assimilation of the major art of the preceding period or periods.” William S. Rubin has convincingly demonstrated how indebted the art of the First Generation of the New American Painting is to Cubism––and how important Cubist composition was to Surrealist art as well. The origins of the Color Field painters and the Pop artists are equally inextricably located in the endeavors of their First Generation predecessors. These relationships made themselves startlingly evident in two recent survey exhibitions held on the East Coast. One was the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940–1970,” organized by Henry Geldzahler; the other, a less well known, less publicized centennial show, Boston University’s “American Artists of the Nineteen Sixties,” organized by H. H. Arnason.

Indeed, it is instructive to compare those artists included in these two special exhibitions with those in the Ludwig and Stroher Collections. The distinctions manifest themselves at once. Immediately, the absence of First Generation art from the German collection is glaringly apparent. One then also realizes that many paintings with figurative or representational subject matter are included in the German collections (Johns, Lichtenstein, Lindner, Rauschenberg, Rosenquist, Warhol, and Wesselmann). Yet sculpture devoid of recognizable or associative imagery is favored––for example, Andre, Chamberlain, Flavin, Judd, and Morris (Tony Smith and Kenneth Snelson are the only two non-figurative sculptors in the two American exhibitions whose work is absent from the German

The Ludwig and Stroher Collections represent nothing less than surveys of the sixties. The Wallraf-Richartz Museum catalog is entitled Art of the Sixties, that of the Hessischen Landesmuseum, Expressive Art Forms, 1960–1970. Artists of the fifties, therefore, come to replace, in the framework of the German collections, the artists of the First Generation as seminal figures, as bridges, so to speak, to the art of the sixties. Johns and Rauschenberg, for example, become crucial forerunners to the other art included in the Ludwig and Stroher Collections.

At first, the selection of non-figurative or abstract paintings in the German collections appears inconsistent and unexplainable. While minor Pop figures abound, important abstractionists are absent. Paintings by Kelly, Louis, Noland and Stella greet the visitor entering the Ludwig and Stroher rooms in Cologne and Darmstadt, but nowhere to be seen are Frankenthaler, Olitski or Poons. Yet their art is not only informed by similar premises, it is also championed by the same art writers and exhibited in the same group exhibitions and even sold by the same dealers.

Part of an answer, at least, may be found in what might be described as a very rough alignment between the current German collections and the traditions of modern art in Germany which were either destroyed or traumatized by the Hitler period. For there was a tradition of modern art in Germany––that of German Expressionism and the Bauhaus. The development of national art styles is formed from sympathetic sources. It is not surprising then that much of the recent German art in the Neue Galerie im Alten Kurhaus in Aachen shares associations with German Expressionism by way of Pop Art and with the Bauhaus by way of Minimal sculpture. Nor is it more than coincidental that in Germany, often the subject matter of representational work is political (Dieter Rot, Wolf Vostell) and the content of non-figurative objects is seen in the context of political actions (Beuys, Franz Erhard Walther).

Though a tradition of modern art existed in Germany, its heritage was interrupted. Bauhaus members fled their homeland before the war; the art of the German Expressionists was labeled degenerate and their activities were forbidden. Once centers for the Brucke, the Blaue Reiter, and Dada, Dresden and Berlin are now located in another world. Thus, American art which can be used as a point of departure for German artists is more often what is selected to be seen there. Instead of a lot of color field paintings, for example, one will unexpectedly see in the Aachen museum some work by figurative artists (Sidney Tillim, Lowell Nesbitt). The American art seen in Germany is not necessarily proportionate to the way it is seen in New York.

Ludwig and Stroher have helped revive a former tradition through their selections. German galleries have contributed to this program by bringing American painters and sculptors to Germany to work. A skeptic could at first say that it costs less to fly an artist to Germany than to transport––and insure––all the work needed for a one-man show. There is no question that this is true. Nevertheless other factors are involved in the decision to have artists work at the galleries and museums. The dealers, other painters and sculptors, writers, and collectors, all enjoy a more direct association with art makers. (One collector, for example, has written that he only began appreciating Frank Stella’s paintings after visiting him in his studio.)

The value of the opportunity to discuss a work of art with its maker cannot be overestimated. Indeed, many art historians now write criticism in order to have a more direct involvement with living artists––and to better understand the process
of making art.

Contemporary art also, to a degree, involves life styles. In New York, during the fifties, the legendary Artists Club and the Cedar Bar affected the experiences of innumerable painters and sculptors. “I don’t think that we could ever recover [in New York] the period, let’s say, from 1957 when I arrived [here],” an American sculptor who is popular in Germany has said. “You could walk into the Cedar Bar and see Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, the heroes. Just to gaze on the masters in the flesh was a very important thing because I had been raised in the
kind of lower middle class household where art was done by the dead for the dead and was in those mortuaries called museums. That was where you went to on Sunday and sort of looked around; but it had nothing to do with one’s everyday life and certainly nothing to do with living creatures. When you could see de Kooning standing there, he was a living creature and you realized that art was a living activity for human beings while alive.”

Today, it is not uncommon in the Cologne/Düsseldorf area to find international art gatherings. In the home of a German art dealer, say, one can find American, English, and German artists and critics exchanging their views. Or, this past summer, one American artist, answering a rapping at the studio door late at night, found that a group of young German students wanted to see “An Artist.” German gallery announcements now read, more often than not, “Artist in Attendance.”

At the Düsseldorf Academy, Joseph Beuys, the best known and most highly respected living German artist, “teaches” about 200 students; the other two faculty members have about four or five pupils. Indeed, of the younger German artists who show with Fischer, Friedrich, and Ricke, many studied with Beuys. But they are also interested in American art concerns and much of their work can be related to recent styles and developments in New York. They meet the Americans who come to Germany; they look, study, honor their paintings and sculptures.

The Germans are trying to re-develop their culture and some interesting work is beginning to emerge. Art, personalities, and dealers are now available and accessible. The result of all this activity is a flourishing art scene in Germany.

Phyllis Tuchman

George Wittenborn, Inc., has announced the availability of the catalogs of the Karl Stroher Collection and the Peter Ludwig Collection.