Dresden

Lothar Zitzmann, Frauen der Welt (Women of the World), 1974, oil on board, 63 × 76 3⁄8". From “East German Painting and Sculpture 1949–1990.”

“East German Painting and Sculpture 1949–1990”

Albertinum

Little is truly permanent in a museum’s permanent collection. Holdings wax and wane; new works are purchased each year, old ones sold off to fund new accessions. Sometimes, politics intervene. Western museums face increasing pressure to return antiquities seized illegally or under colonial duress; the call for such repatriation echoes efforts to restore Nazi-looted art to descendants of its original, Jewish owners.

Both the precarity and polemics of museological “permanence” are highlighted in an excellent showcase of East German painting and sculpture at Dresden’s Albertinum, one of the leading art institutions of the former German Democratic Republic. The exhibition displays a selection of the museum’s acquisitions dating from 1949 to 1990 in chronological order by purchase date, tracing the institution’s attempts to build a new, socialist-minded canon—one meant to launch, in Soviet

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