Wolfgang Mattheuer


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German painter and sculptor, born in Reichenbach. He studied at the Leipzig Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, an institution which was strongly committed to Socialist Realism. His highly dramatic figure compositions were a conspicuous example of the Problembild, the critical, ambiguous kind of painting which was characteristic of East German painting from the mid-1960s. An example is Kain (1965, Staatliche Galerie, Moritzburg), supposedly referring to the war in Vietnam but which could equally be about the post-war division of Germany. After reunification, his work was sometimes read as an expression of political dissidence. For instance his sculpture The Century Step (1984, Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn) has changed meaning in the intervening years from being about the struggle between Socialism and Fascism to being about their continuity. The visual evidence could perfectly well support either, and in the circumstances to invoke any statement by the artist as to ‘intention’ at face value seems naive.

Subjects: Art.

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