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Material Difference: German Perspectives

Mar 1 2019 – Apr 26 2020

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

In Europe, the physical and psychological devastation of World War II had a profound effect on artists’ subjects, methods, and use of materials far beyond the immediate post-war years. Photographs taken along the Russian front lines by the Soviet photojournalist Dmitry Baltermants show the tremendous suffering and loss of human life during the war. Presented alongside Anselm Kiefer’s large-scale allegorical and heavily layered works created in the 1980s and 90s and Katharina Fritsch’s surreal sculpture, Mann und Maus (1991–92), Material Difference offers perspectives across time as German artists, writers, and scholars contended with the trauma of the Jewish genocide and the failure of an entire generation.

As Germany divided into East and West, the country’s history remained front and central to artists well into the new millennium and these artists ask questions about the role and responsibility of the artist, questions that reverberate long past the immediate phase of reconstruction and into the present.

Photo: Mark Woods

The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.