4 June – 1 August 2021

Dieter Krieg

sei still!

Abbildung: Dieter Krieg: sei still!, Ausschnitt aus einer dreiteiligen Arbeit, 2002, Acryl auf Leinwand, © Stiftung Dieter Krieg / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021

Dieter Krieg was one of the most radical painters of his generation. He may not have achieved the broad public appeal of some others because he did not care about the laws and fashions of the art market. Yet even fifteen years after the death of its creator, the work enjoys the highest esteem, perhaps even – surprisingly, especially among fellow artists – veneration. This could be due, among other things, to the fact that Krieg taught at the Düsseldorf Art Academy for 25 years with great success and took this profession as seriously as his own artistic work.

This was characterised by independence, obstinacy and always took surprising turns. While Dieter Krieg, together with Horst Antes and Walter Stöhrer, countered the all-dominant abstraction with “New Figuration” in the 1960s, he withdrew a little later into a strict and reduced world of images, only to come up with revolutionary new works for the design of the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1978 – against all expectations of the curator Klaus Gallwitz and to the astonishment of the public. From then on, objects determined his painting: buckets, sticks, crosses, flower pots, curtains, glasses, fried eggs. Heads of lettuce, but also dogs’ heads. Letters and (often mutilated) lettering. The formats grew, the acrylic paint was sometimes slapped onto the canvas by the bucketful, raw and brutal – an attitude one would never have suspected in the slender, reserved, ascetic-looking artist.

In fact, Dieter Krieg did not paint out of the impetus of self-assured showmanship. His paintings get their overwhelming presence from the fact that one senses in every single one of them the almost desperate attempt to grasp reality – and the tangible doubt that this could ever succeed.

Curated by Jürgen Knubben

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