Munich’s Haus der Kunst Celebrates 1980s German Counterculture

Einstuerzende Neubauten: performing at Documenta 7, Kassel, 1982 Photo: Peter Gruchot via Haus der Kunst, Munich

In 1981, a radical concert was held at Berlin’s Tempodrom called “Geniale Dilletanten” (Brilliant Dilettantes). The deliberately misspelled title of the show became a catch-all phrase for an anti-establishment artistic movement in Germany between 1979 and 1984 that spanned music, film and art.

The artists involved in the scene were deliberatively provocative and challenged preconceived notions of “good taste.” Creative expression was emphasized as technical artistic skill took a back seat.

Martin Kippenberger Bitte nicht nach Hause schicken (1983) Photo: Estate of Martin Kippenberger and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne via Haus der Kunst, Munich

Martin Kippenberger Bitte nicht nach Hause schicken (1983)
Photo: Estate of Martin Kippenberger and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne via Haus der Kunst, Munich

The exhibition “Geniale Dilletanten”: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s at Munich’s Haus Der Kunst explores the rebellious creative output of this 1980s era in Germany.

The show presents a selection of music, film, art, design, fashion, and photography from the time when the movement was firmly underground, before it emerged in the mainstream in the form of the “Neue Deutsche Welle” in the mid 80s and early 90s.

Videos and photographs document concerts in West Germany as well as in the GDR, by the likes of Ornament und Verbrechen who performed unauthorized gigs at readings and exhibitions in communist East Berlin under various pseudonyms.

Ilse Ruppert Ost-Berlin (East Berlin) (1982) Photo: Ilse Ruppert via Haus der Kunst, Munich

Ilse Ruppert Ost-Berlin (East Berlin) (1982)
Photo: Ilse Ruppert via Haus der Kunst, Munich

The exhibition also includes works by artists such as Rainer Fetting, Salomé, Markus Oehlen and Jörg Immendorff, and of course Martin Kippenberger who shook up the visual arts scene at around the same time. Artists such as Helmut Middendorf, Walter Dahn, and Elvira Bach all made direct references to the radical music scene in their paintings.

The exhibition is accompanied by an interview film, providing an insight into the minds of the protagonists who shaped the era.

“Geniale Dilletanten”: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s is on view at Haus der Kunst, Munich from June 26 – October 11.


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