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09 Feb 2018

Inventur: Art in Germany, 1943-55

Harvard Art Museums

Reviewed by Franklin Einspruch

Five years in the making, "Inventur" examines German artistic production in the decade-plus of recovery after World War II. It takes its name from a Günter Eich poem that describes his meager belongings, including a "precious nail / I keep concealed / from coveting eyes."

That sets the tone for the work from the Forties, executed in whatever media that could be scrounged. Ruins figure prominently. Jeanne Mammen rendered them in Cubism on cardboard. Erwin Spuler painted them isometrically on plywood, the wreckage seeming to extend forever. Wilhelm Rudolph recorded the dismal scene that was Dresden in furious ink lines, piled up like a nest of heartbroken twigs.

Liberalization of markets and taste in the Fifties enlarged the possibilities. Standing out among the abstractionists is Hann Trier, whose woodcuts - carved from tennis racket casings - are lively and urgent. A drawing from 1956 has him working with two hands at once, in a frenzy, as if making up for lost time.

Exhibition Inventur: Art in Germany, 1943-55 link
Start date 09 Feb 2018
End date 03 Jun 2018
Presenter Harvard Art Museums link
Venue 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, USA map
Image Hann Trier, Vibration No. 107/56, 1956, black ink on off-white modern laid paper, 19 5/16 x 24 5/8 inches, Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of the Artist through the German Art Dealers Association
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