Eugen Schönebeck: Das Frühwerk

14 Sep 2019 – 21 Dec 2019

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Galerie Judin

Berlin, Germany


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Eugen Schönebeck (*1936) is one of the most sig­nif­icant post-war Ger­man artists.


All the major social, polit­ical and artis­tic upheavals of the time are reflected in his life and work. He grew up in Saxony at the end of the Sec­ond World War, where he begun his artis­tic edu­ca­tion as an apprentice in dec­o­ra­tional paint­ing. He con­tin­ued his train­ing in East Berlin, before leav­ing the young GDR for West Berlin—then the epi­center of non-rep­re­senta­tional art. Together with fel­low stu­dent Georg Baselitz, he devel­oped a new style of fig­u­ra­tive paint­ing. With the large-format por­traits of social­ist lead­ers he made in the mid-1960s, the artist pre-empted issues raised by the protests of 1968.

Only a few years after gra­dua­ting, Schönebeck with­drew him­self from the art mar­ket. He shifted his art to a pri­vate sphere, not least because there was no sociopo­lit­ical utopia to fol­low the move­ment of 1968. He stopped paint­ing in oils, but con­tin­ued to draw—and became the myth­ical pio­neer of new Ger­man fig­u­ra­tion.

Schönebeck produced about 60 paint­ings, and in recent years these have been pub­lished and partly exhib­ited, but the draw­ings, of which there are more than a thou­sand, remain largely unknown. As a result, no light has yet been shed on Schönebeck’s stylis­tic and thematic devel­op­ment, for the draw­ings form a cor­pus of work that is, for the most part, suf­ficient unto itself and rarely mirrored in his paint­ings.

This exhi­bi­tion of the artist’s forma­tive years, confined to selected se­ries of works on paper, is hence a depar­ture into uncharted territory. We fol­low the artis­tic beginn­ings of the young Schönebeck—from his apprentice­ship as a painter-dec­o­rator in Saxony, via his train­ing at the school of dec­o­ra­tive art in East Berlin, to his study of fine art at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in West Berlin. Dur­ing that time, he absorbed the influ­ence of his teach­ers, but was also inspired by art move­ments in Ger­many, the United States and France, walking a tightrope between his own and borrowed con­tent, between East and West Ger­many, and between the fig­u­ra­tive and the abs­tract. His early work thus reveals all the ingre­di­ents that gave rise to his iconic major works of the 1960s, to which we have ded­icated a small selec­tion of works—exhib­ited as a “pre­view” of sorts.

The first vol­ume of a cat­a­logue raisonné of Schönebeck’s draw­ings will be pub­lished in spring 2020.

Exhibiting artists

Eugen Schönebeck


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