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PRINT Summer 2009

HOW GERMAN WAS IT?

EXACTLY SIXTY YEARS AFTER the founding of the West German Federal Republic and the East German Democratic Republic, and exactly twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the Western world rejoiced in mass schadenfreude at the collapse of the Communist German state (and the Communist system at large), “Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures,” a major exhibition organized by Stephanie Barron and Eckhart Gillen at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, provided an occasion to reconsider the postwar history of the two belated and beleaguered democracies on various German soils. (The title of the exhibition itself signals the scandal of a presumably impossible multiplication of nation-state identity: Could we even imagine a show called “Art of Two Frances”?)

“Two Germanys” recounted the parallel—and mostly opposite—formations of cultural practices in the two halves of the divided Germany

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