This encounter/guided tour sees Ulrich Wilmes, art historian and curator of the exhibition Jörg Immendorff. The Task of the Painter(Museo Reina Sofía, 30 October 2019 – 13 April 2020), shine a light on the career of the German artist from multiple perspectives and with a direct connection to the works on display. The aforementioned retrospective commences with the first stages of sociopolitical upheaval at the end of the 1960s and concludes with the hermetic paintings and allegories from the artist’s mature period — essentially, four decades of activity by a chronicler of tumultuous times. In this tour, Wilmes highlights Immendorff’s particular view of art and his own existence as an artist.
Educated by Joseph Beuys in the new artistic attitudes in the mid-1960s, Jörg Immendorff (1945–2007) left conceptual art aside to immerse himself in German Neo-Expressionism and a return to the painting that would characterise the 1980s, two movements in which he is widely considered an international point of reference. However, Immendorff did not discard the radicalism of his early years entirely – in fact, this was largely augmented and prolonged over this new phase – for he conceived of painting as a set of allegorical and social strategies, not as fetishized commodities solely serving to reaffirm the artist. He believed that painting was the narrative medium which made room for anxieties, identity crises and feelings of guilt in post-war Germany, exemplified in the series Café Deutschland. Moreover, Immendorff never saw painting outside the purely aesthetic, viewing it instead as a language determined by its social role; thus, he never wavered in his concern with considering different levels of interpreting the objects, situations and subjects that run through his works.
Ulrich Wilmes is an art historian and curator of the exhibition Jörg Immendorff. The Task of the Painter. He has worked as a curator at Portikus (Frankfurt) and has served as deputy director of both Lenbachhaus (Munich) and the Ludwig Museum (Cologne). Until 2018, he was chief curator at Haus der Kunst (Munich) and currently works as an independent curator.