Neo Rauch (b. 1960)
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Neo Rauch (b. 1960)


Neo Rauch (b. 1960)
titled 'Süd' (lower left)
oil on canvas
63 x 55 1/8in. (160 x 140cm.)
Painted in 2002
Galerie Eigen + Art, Berlin.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2002.
'Mittelmeerzugang für Deutschland' in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2 May 2003, no. 101, Frankfurt (illustrated, p. 33).
Berlin, Galerie Eigen + Art, Neo Rauch, December 2002-February 2003.
Wolfsburg, Kunstmuseum, Update # 6: Monuments of Melancholy, March-June 2003.
Athens, Technopolis, Benaki Museum and The Factory, Outlook, October 2003-January 2004 (illustrated in colour, p. 283).
Sao Paulo, Oscar Niemeyer Pavilion, 26 Fundação Bienal São Paulo, September-December 2004.
Málaga, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Neo Rauch, June-September 2005 (illustrated in colour, p. 47).
Leipzig, Museum der Bildenden Kunste, 2002-2007 (on loan).
Wolfsburg, Kunstmuseum, Neo Rauch: Neue Rollen, Bilder 1993-2006, November 2006-March 2007. This exhibition later travelled to Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum, May-August 2007.
Special notice
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis. Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Lot Essay

At once strange and familiar, the sandy coastal scenery of Neo Rauch's Süd (South) fuses realism with surrealism to deliberately distort any sense of a clear narrative or geographic placement. Typically, Rauch finds most of the inspiration for his pictures in the people and the flat landscapes around Leipzig, but it appears the artist has decisively sought to represent southern climes in Süd as an escape from the geopolitics of modern Germany and the cultural differences still attributed to East and West. Born in Leipzig in 1960, a year before the erection of the Berlin Wall, Rauch instils his art with the indelible effects of growing up during the Cold War, whether he is representing aspects of East German history or purely imaginative landscapes. Manipulating the style of Socialist Realist figurative painting proscribed in his youth, along with references to art historical precedents, graphic design and popular culture, Rauch creates enigmatic retro-futuristic images that unite mysterious personal and universal histories to pose problematic questions about where civilization is going.

With Süd, Rauch had initially started work on a painting that was intended to take a completely different course, which is visible in some residual under-painting, but which was altered drastically following a trip to Italy, becoming the existing sun baked, though somewhat desolate, Mediterranean landscape. Süd depicts a dusty seaside road, presided over by a carefully tended altar to the Virgin Mary and a cave-like store offering fresh produce. Yet the painting is far from the idealised holiday landscapes of travel brochures. The tourist postcard calm of this scene is unsettled by strangely scaled vegetative ornamentation, the apparently tumbling structure of the store and the floating head of a bearded man outlined against the foreboding sky. Rauch's dreamlike paintings are frequently dominated by industrious people in their place of work, who closely relate to the imagery of Socialist propaganda or mid-20th Century advertising. However, Rauch does not represent the jubilation of working class heroes, but often dull or incomprehensible tasks performed by matter-of-fact figures that reveal an existential irony about the purpose of productivity. In contrast to Rauch's normally jostling, busy workers, the diminutive, shadowy figures in Süd have no customers and seem to be located in a place unlikely to attract them. It seems time creeps very slowly for the inhabitors of this scene, and yet the laidback surroundings are studded with signs of encroaching industrialisation - including the giant street lamps lining the rustic track and Rauch's nod to the industrial output of his native Germany with the 'S' and 'D' of Süd, which is an inversion of the typography used for the Porsche sports car logo. Like the title sequence of a film or the opening frame of a comic, Süd leads the viewer into a story of dystopian modern society, but it is always Rauch's intention that they lose their way, leaving an atmosphere of unease similar to the experience of apprehension before a storm.

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