East German Art Before and After the Fall of Communism

Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


For 40 years after World War II and for 70 years after World War I, communist rule established a relationship between the arts, the state, and the society — first in the Soviet Union and later in the eastern European countries — that differed radically from the place of art in the capitalist west and from the lines of historical development which had shaped European art for many generations. Since the nineteenth century, art and artists had become more and more emancipated from particular patrons and oriented to the market. In the process, autonomy for individual expression increased greatly, while innovation and experimentation became norms that dominated critical discourse as well as the upper-end marketplace. Artistic developments in the Soviet Union as well as in eastern Europe after World War II took off from this modern experimental art of the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century. But the thrust of communist rule and its transformations over time gave art a place in politics and society that was radically at odds with central tendencies of modern art, which included the premium on experimental innovation and, at least for a significant minority, the critique of established culture and society.


German Democratic Republic National Gallery Communist Rule Communist Period Christian Democratic Party 
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© Victoria D. Alexander and Marilyn Rueschemeyer 2005

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