Neo Rauch’s Strange Social Realist Universe

According to an Art in America story on Neo Rauch, his work was discovered at the 1999 Armory Show in New York at the booth of Eigen + Art.

Part of the function of my blog is for myself to personally attempt to analyze contemporary art that had deeply impacted me, whether it be a recent exhibition or one I saw even a decade ago or more. In this case I was inspired by having seen a couple of the Neo Rauch shows at David Zwirner, recalling how unusual, strange, unique and sometimes hallucinatory the paintings by Neo Rauch were  when I was there to inspect his pictures. I’ve read the small number of articles online that address his work – they speak of regressive imagery, of his speaking to the past through the present, of his ideologies conjuring up the most negative aspects and elements of the German DDR and the former Cold War East Germany . What they do not address is Rauch’s literal representation of image facture and disruption as historical breakthrough, of his impossible collages of space-time whereby he literally not merely juxtaposes two different scenic elements, but two or more completely different realms, where the sky of one world melds with the ground of a completely different world. At every point we deny understanding or knowing or even believing Rauch’s phenomenally complex and arresting narratives, yet at once we sense somewhere in ourselves that there is an unavoidable truth being told by these pictures, that they are visual records of historical episodes of the daily life of the former Eastern bloc, that they represent all that we never knew or knew but could not accept as the reality of a world where persons found alternative means to survive.

"I mentioned earlier that Rauch’s paintings seem curiously trans-temporal, to the point that a single work might suggest both Germany now and East Germany a couple of decades ago, 19th-century Romanticism, 18th-century soldiers, medieval times and a science-fiction future. Rauch seems to understand that the eras of the DDR and reunification are simply moments among many..." Gregory Volk, Art in America

"Many critics like the absurd narrative of his paintings. Rauch said during the press conference in Leipzig, ‘If one would understand my paintings right away, this would be an accident, this should not happen.’
Rauch gained his fame in the last 15 years during the boom of the art market. His enormous commercial success is closely tied to his long-time art dealer, Judy Lybke. They met in the early 1980s, at the University for Graphic and Book Art (Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst) in Leipzig. Gerd Harry aka 'Judy' Lybke worked there as a nude model for the drawing classes and Neo Rauch was a student with Arno Rink. Mr. Lybke started his underground gallery in Leipzig already in the old days of the Communist GDR regime.
In the years following the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, many collectors and curators turned to East Germany and wanted to know what the artists did there. Judy Lybke had the answer: The School of Leipzig." Christopher Neuschler/

“Rauch forces us to slog through conservative language in order to reach meaning…”(Artfagcity)

One of the 14 paintings by Neo Rauch for this show of his works at the Metropolitan museum in New York in 2007.

One of the 14 paintings by Neo Rauch for this show of his works at the Metropolitan museum in New York in 2007.

Neo Rauch, Parabel. What a strange picture indeed. Here in the background appears some form of guillotine, yet the artist has a rope about his neck that extends from his canvas, as if to say it is Art itself and its journey that is causing him to contemplate the act of one taking ones own life.

Neo Rauch, Suche. In this picture a giant bird with a placard walks toward two men, one of whom is bent over with his hands in his face in despair, the other is relaxed as if it is only the viewer who sees the giant creature entering the scene.

Neo Rauch, "Ware," 2011

Neo Rauch art (1)

Neo Rauch. Leporello,2005

Neo Rauch, Die Stickerin

Neo Rauch, Share

Neo Rauch, Die Jägerin (2011)

Neo Rauch, Fundgrube (2011)

Neo Rauch, Heilstätten (2011).

Neo Rauch, Das Kreisen, 2011

Neo Rauch, Kronung I

Neo Rauch, Tume

Die Warte


  • Neo Rauch: ‘Wahl (Election)’, 1998

    Neo Rauch: 'Wahl (Election)', 1998

  • Vincent Johnson during his recent art trip to London

    please feel free to visit my website:

    Vincent Johnson’s Nine Grayscale Paintings – installation shot – 2
    Vincent Johnson’s Nine Grayscale Paintings – studio shot – 1 (Silver hand)
    Vincent Johnson – in my studio working on my Nine Grayscale Paintings
    Vincent Johnson’s Nine Grayscale Paintings – first stage of grayscale painting
    Vincent Johnson’s Nine Grayscale Paintings – studio view of stage one of grayscale paintings drying

    Los Angeles based artist and writer Vincent Johnson

    Vincent Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Painting 1986. He started out as a student in Pratt’s painting department. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.

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