Basic Research: A Selection of Postwar German Painting and Sculpture

, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums

Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums

Around 1960, many artists in Germany sought alternatives to the gestural abstraction that had become exhausted by the late 1950s. This installation presents work by three of those artists—Günther Uecker (b. 1930), Raimund Girke (1930–2002), and Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)—and work by two artists of the next generation—Günter Umberg (b. 1942) and Isa Genzken (b. 1948).

Using a range of innovative and unconventional media and techniques, these largely monochrome paintings and sculptures explore texture, materials, and other fundamental characteristics of art making. The primarily black, white, and gray works resonate provocatively with one another while revealing the surprising beauty and variety that can be achieved through minimal means. Two of the included works were recently acquired as gifts in honor of the Museum’s 100th anniversary.

An adjunct selection of works on paper, including Genzken’s reworked photograph Basic Research (1989), which gives this installation its title, may be viewed in the Busch-Reisinger Museum Study Room during its public hours, Monday–Friday, 2–4:45 p.m.

Organized by Laura Muir, Charles C. Cunningham, Sr., Assistant Curator, Busch-Reisinger Museum.