The Quest for Identity: Germany and Its Art In the Cold War-Period

  • Abstract:
    The aim of this paper is to focus on the ideas that should have been transferred with the help of visual arts in the period after the Second World War. During the Cold War, Germany was a central geographical point of political, social and cultural discourse. Divided and influenced by the Allies, the German government was forced to work fast on new concepts of its own identity in all areas. For the arts, the late 1940s were a time of permanent discussions about which art is the right one to represent the spirit of the “Stunde Null” and to represent the free art of the new West Germany. The first Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer strengthened the West integration and at the same time politicians engaged in the cultural sector of the Soviet occupation zone established socialist realism there. Out of this early discussions after the Second World War grew the new ideas of how the Western and Eastern art should be like. The Cold War was even in arts and very often Germany was the place, where the fights were staged. It was an ideological fight between abstract and figurative, humanistic and elitist, communist and capitalist, and finally West and East. These concepts were that strong that part of their heritage is palpable until today in the world of arts. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the ideas of globalization grew steadily, in politics and equally in the art scene. But until now the East-West-Gap in the Arts exists. The examination of famous German artists in comparison to the ones from Eastern Europe will make it obvious.