Geniale Dilletanten: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s

Geniale Dilletanten: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s

Haus der Kunst

Der Plan, Es ist eine fremde und seltsame Welt (It’s an alien and strange world), 1987. 30 x 40 cm. Photo: Der Plan.

June 10, 2015

Geniale Dilletanten. 
Subculture in Germany in the 1980s
26 June–11 October 2015

Haus der Kunst
Prinzregentenstr. 1
80538 Munich

Geniale Dilletanten was the term used to announce a concert held in Berlin’s Tempodrom in 1981. The deliberately misspelled title has become synonymous with the brief era of artistic upheaval in Germany between 1979 and ’84. Developed particularly in and around art schools, strong subculture scenes formed in many German cities. With their use of brute noise, provocative Super 8 films, cheap photocopied fanzines, independently produced samples, design that challenged “good taste,” and a new, wild language for figurative painting and sculpture, these artists opposed the prevailing zeitgeist in Germany. Emphasis was placed on expression rather than technical perfection, artistic impact rather than skill. These players probed the possibilities of total opposition with the same vehemence they directed against official policy and the legacy of the ’68 generation. Loud protests and deliberate provocation helped this alternative artistic scene gain international recognition before it petered out in commercialism as the Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave).

The broad range of the subculture is illustrated in the exhibition through works of film, art, design, fashion and portraits of seven bands:
Einstürzende Neubauten, Die Tödliche Doris, Der Plan, Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle (F.S.K.), Palais Schaumburg, Ornament und Verbrechen, and the duo Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (D.A.F.)

The movement’s players met in clubs and venues such as the Ratinger Hof (Dusseldorf), the record store Rip Off (Hamburg), Kumpelnest, SO36 and Risiko (Berlin) or at the barber shop Penny Lane (Cologne) to play and listen to music, drink and dance, or develop new ideas.

At the same time, Rainer Fetting, Salomé, Markus Oehlen and Jörg Immendorff expressed in their painting the close relationship between the music and club scenes and the art scene. Markus Oehlen was also a musician and cassette DJ at Ratinger Hof. The painters intervened creatively in the events and also took advantage of such crude spaces in order to counter, by pictorial means, the music with something analogous. 

Helmut Middendorf, Walter Dahn and Elvira Bach also satisfied the then prevailing hunger for images and made direct references in their work to the music scene and individual stage performances. These paintings are included in the selection of works together with audio samples, magazines and billboards.

Geniale Dilletanten was designed as a touring exhibition by the Goethe Institute and has been substantially expanded for its presentation in Haus der Kunst.

Idea and concept: Leonhard Emmerling and Mathilde Weh of the Goethe Institute’s visual arts department.
Curator: Mathilde Weh
Assistance: Aline Fieker

Media partners:
Super Paper

Cultural partner:

Current exhibitions:
Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells
Till 2 August 2015

Till 20 September 2015

Opening soon:
Cold Libido. Goetz Collection at Haus der Kunst
26 June 2015–28 February 2016

Random Sampling. Painting from Goetz Collection
26 June 2015–17 January 2016

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June 10, 2015

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