• Tuesday, 26 September 2023

German president presents former East German art at Berlin palace

Gulan Media August 29, 2019 Arts
German president presents former East German art at Berlin palace
Berlin (dpa) - German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has acknowledged the contribution of artists to the peaceful revolution in the former East Germany 30 years ago with an exhibition at his official Berlin residence.

Steinmeier presented the paintings by artists from the former communist part of divided Germany during a reception on Thursday at Bellevue Palace.

"These pictures hang here in a bow before these - and all other - artists, also the writers, musicians, theatre people in [East Germany], who risked something because they wanted or had to follow their own eyes, their own hearts, their own artistic conscience - and not a prescribed, partisan view of the world," Steinmeier said.

The pictures were also hanging in the palace in a "bow to those who had the courage to take to the streets in 1989," Steinmeier said.

The two Germanys were divided into a communist East and capitalist West by the occupying forces at the end of World War II. The ideological divide deepened during the Cold War until peaceful demonstrations brought down the East German regime in 1989.

Berlin is gearing up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this revolution that ultimately led to the reunification of the country in the coming weeks.

In Bellevue's entrance gallery, where practically all visitors come, five large-format pictures by Hartwig Ebersbach, Guenter Firit, Angela Hampel, Harald Metzkes and TRAKWendisch have been put on display.

The loans from the cities of Berlin, Dresden and Halle emerged in the period after dissident songwriter Wolf Biermann was deprived of his East German citizenship in 1976 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

They are to hang in the gallery until the 30th anniversary of German reunification in October 2020.

Visitors to an open day at Bellevue on Saturday can also see them.

"The pictures we exhibit here testify to the artists' strong will to maintain a sense of being contrary and stubborn and not to march along with the crowd in any preset direction," Steinmeier said.

"They testify to the resistance of an individual way of thinking in the midst of attempts at ideological collectivization. ... And they bear witness to the energy with which the desire for freedom breaks free; for artistic freedom, and certainly also for political freedom."