This New Documentary Gets Inside the Mind of Neo Rauch

The artist reveals the impact of his parents' tragic death.

German artist Neo Rauch. Photo: JENS WOLF/AFP/Getty Images.

A new documentary about the influential German painter Neo Rauch, a leading proponent of the New Leipzig School, has been announced for release in March.

Titled Neo Rauch – Gefährten und Begleiter (Neo Rauch – Companions and Confidants), the documentary follows the artist as he works in his studio and on his travels throughout Germany and abroad. The film is produced by the German documentary filmmaker Nicola Graef, whose previous critically acclaimed film Immendorf documented the iconic German artist’s final years.

In extensive conversations and dialogues, Rauch reveals his approach to painting, and he discusses how his life and work have been shaped by the tragic death of his parents in a train accident when he was only four weeks old.

Graef also interviewed Rauch’s gallerists Judy Lybke and David Zwirner and documented the artist meeting collectors from Italy, Germany, the US, and Korea. What attracts this diverse group of collectors to his quintessentially East German aesthetic? What emotions does his work elicit in them?

Rauch’s work raises questions about origin and identity. Who are we? Where do we come from? And why are are we the way that we are? As such, the film revolves around the concept of our companions, the people with whom we share our lives, and how they influence us.

One of the most successful German artists of his generation, Rauch has been credited for a turn-of-the-century renaissance in German painting. Much of this is to do with his distinct figurative style, laden with East German imagery, which is rendered in a trademark demure color palette. Its collective effect has been to captivate audiences, resulting in meteoric price developments that have launched the artist from obscurity to stardom.

Graef’s documentary takes the viewer behind the scenes, into Rauch’s studio, and it offers privileged insight into the artist’s manner of thinking and seeing the world around him. The film also includes a range of expert opinions, voices that bolster our understanding about what makes Rauch one of the leading contemporary painters.

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