Early 21st Century Figurative Art — Leipzig!

The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. By the 1990s, the power of the New Leipzig School artists, comprised mostly of students of instructors from the original Leipzig School, was unleashed to the art world at large. This was in no small part credited to the success and efforts of the group’s high octane, high profile leader, Neo Rauch. It is an art rooted in socialist realism and the associated marvelous Leipzig School technical prowess in the art of figuration — transformed by exposure to the spectrum of Western influences, including Modernism in the arts, into a new and vital art. Significantly, the Leipzig figurative art is not a response to conceptualism as it might appear at first glance, but is a vibrant and natural outgrowth of the German socialist realism experience.

The New Leipzig School (Neue Leipziger Schule), viewed as a movement, seems more of an association than a formal group. Its list of ‘members’ varies, but certain characteristics are common to all — to the original seven or so members who emerged in the mid-1990s (Tilo Baumgärtel, Peter Busch, Tim Eitel, Martin Kobe, Christoph Ruckhäberle, David Schnell, Matthias Weischer and the leader of the ‘movement,’ Neo Rauch) and to a larger range of associated artists including among others: Rosa Loy (wife of Neo Rauch), Falk Gernegroß, Julia Schmidt, Uwe Kowski.

The styles of these artists vary, but without exception, they all share certain characteristics from their Leipzig training — virtuoso draftsmanship, composition and figurative painting technique and a love for the narrative element. Often the tendency is toward the surreal; the tone, disquieting. Whether the style is surreal, pop or something else entirely, these powerful Leipzig artists’ works significantly reinvigorated the art of figuration.

(Jules Cavanaugh, I Require Art™)

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