The latest show at the Saatchi Gallery, Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany, which opens on Friday, showcases 24 artists, most of whom have been little seen in the UK, but are rapidly establishing themselves in Germany and internationally.
Their work, including sculpture, painting, drawing and installation, ranges from the grotesque and macabre to the lyrical and surreal, reflecting the diversity of German art now.
Perhaps best known for its Wagnerian associations, the word ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ can be translated as a total, ideal or universal work of art, or as a synthesis of different art forms into one all-embracing unique genre. As such, many works in this exhibition reflect on the boundaries of art, in terms of our perception of it and its relationship to other disciplines.
Running through the exhibition is an inherent reference to another quasi-Gesamtkunstwerk: the baggage of post-war German visual culture and the work of earlier generations of German artists, from the Expressionists to Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Martin Kippenberger, Rosemarie Trockel, Gerhard Richter and Franz West, with whom many of the artists in this exhibition seem to be in conversation.
Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany at the Saatchi Gallery, from 18 November to 30 April 2012, www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk