Neo Rauch was born in 1960 in Leipzig, once a major artistic center despite the inhibiting stricturespropagandistic and utilitarianimposed by the USSR on the art of the Eastern Zone. Yet these past two decades have seen Rauch rise from local star to international idol, owing to his virtuoso, ironic reworking of socialist realist tropesa mode of considerable stylistic fascination especially following the fall of the Wall in 1989. When now seen, whether in the US or in Germany, Rauch’s paintings possess an incongruous punch quite different from that of works by East German artists who fled to the West before reunification. In the headiness of their escape, Sigmar Polke and Georg Baselitz struck out from the tabula rasa once forbidden to them, while Rauch, ever at home in Leipzig, continued to create large, illustrative figure compositions. But for all his skilled
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