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Despite thorough research it was not always possible to determine the identity of the copyright holders for all images. We ask copyright holders with justified claims to contact Haus der Kunst.
"Postwar: art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965" examines the vibrant and turbulent postwar period as a global phenomenon for the first time in recent exhibition history. In eight dramatic chapters, the exhibition guides visitors through the first 20 years following the end of World War II, demonstrating how artists coped with and responded to the traumas of the Holocaust, the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; how the two political blocs of the Cold War exploited the arts and created competition between realism and abstraction, and how displacement and migration produced new cosmopolitan contexts across the world. The postwar period also marked the end of European colonial systems; the rise of nation-building, decolonization and liberation movements; the partition of countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East; as well as the civil rights movement in the United States. These changes unleashed an incredible energy
visible in the art of the time. New technologies began to pour into everyday life; the space age fascinated artists as well as the masses, opening up a completely new and dynamic field of artistic consideration.
As an in-depth, global study, the exhibition shows painting, sculpture, installation, collage, performance, film, artist books, documents, photography, in total more than 350 works by 218 artists from 65 countries.
The term "Postwar" describes the historical period following the end of World War II in 1945. These years delineate the decisive defeat of Germany in Europe and of Japan in Asia, marking a turning point in global history. In the field of art, the postwar period marks a particular historical and cultural turning point, too, for it brought about the waning dominance of Western European art capitals and the rise of the international presence and hegemony of contemporary American art, popular culture, and mass media. The state of the arts also revealed a distinct ideological fault line: Behind the terms "socialist realism" and "abstraction" the simplifying binary between communism and capitalist democracy, socialism and liberal democracy was cast against the backdrop of the Cold War, which often obscured more complex motivations for artistic production.
On a global scale, however, several factors complicated this binary — decolonization struggles, independence movements, and anti-colonial resistance in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East — even as the Cold War powers courted and sought control of the new nations. These increasingly independent actors suggested quite different orientations and alliances — including pan-Africanism and the Non-Aligned Movement — in the wake of imperialism and the end of the war.
Reflecting on the varied trajectories of thinking of this period "Postwar: art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965" maps the itineraries of art and politics that interlocked the world into a single entity. The question was asked everywhere: what would global modernity look like? If we are to refigure the cartographies of postwar modernism, what sort of methodologies might we deploy? To what extent did the political exert pressure on the aesthetic, or the cultural on the artistic? In turn, how did artists, critics, and intellectuals negotiate, resist, or even subvert political ideologies or cultural nationalism?
Probing differing concepts of artistic modernity — such as abstraction, realism, figuration, and representation — the exhibition explores how individual receptions and formulations of modernism informed the variant manifestations of modern art. By following these divergent and convergent vectors of influence, the exhibition invites reflection on the development of art that straddles continents, political structures, economic patterns, and institutional frameworks.
Yet in another sense, "Postwar: art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965" is entirely unprecedented, in that for the first time it examines art of the postwar era from multiple perspectives — East and West, North and South, colonizer and colonized, Pacific and Atlantic. Organized in eight thematic sections, "Postwar" illuminates these epochal social changes – "Aftermath: Zero Hour and the Atomic Era"; "Form Matters"; "New Images of Man"; "Realisms"; "Concrete Visions"; "Cosmopolitan Modernisms"; "Nations Seeking Form"; "Networks, Media, and Communication".
Haus der Kunst offers guided tours of the exhibition "Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965" in German several times a week (2 € / person). Public tours in English take place every Friday at 6:30 pm alternating with the other exhibitions at Haus der Kunst.
Additional services such as "Art After Work", "Art Cocktail", "Art, Coffee, Cake", and "Do you speak art?" (in German) can be found here.
Each of these tours can also be booked in English at the time of your choice.
Reservation is required.
Private tours can also be booked for the time of your choice.