55 artists, 320 works, eight venues: “Deutschland 8” is the most comprehensive exhibition of modern and contemporary German art in China to date. The presentation in Beijing attracted some 750.000 visitors in just six weeks, and generated overwhelmingly positive media coverage in both countries. Even for a city of art enthusiasts such as China’s capital, this represents a remarkable response.
Both countries have hailed the exhibition as an important initiative in promoting intercultural dialogue between Germany and China. On September 17th, German Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel and China’s Minister of Culture Luo Shugang commonly inaugurated the exhibition. For the first time Beijing has opened its Imperial Ancestral Temple to western contemporary art.
The choice of works from across seven decades attests to the diversity of the German art scene: “Deutschland 8” is intended as an ‘expedition into a cultural continent’ forged by German artists since 1945. Boasting a broad spectrum of media and themes, the show juxtaposes globally acclaimed and internationally less well-known positions.
The show is conceived as a response to “China 8“, the up until now largest exhibition of Chinese contemporary art, which was staged across 8 cities in the Rhine and Ruhr region in 2015. Joint organisers comprise on the German side the Foundation for Art and Culture, Bonn and on the Chinese side, the Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing.
“Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Anselm Kiefer and Günther Uecker in the Forbidden City – now that is a cultural sensation. For the first time, China is opening up one of its cultural centrepieces, the Taimiao Ancestral Temple, to the contemporary art of a Western country. Ten artists from the “Deutschland 8” exhibition are on display here with another 45 in six of Beijing’s museums of modern art. I am truly delighted that works numbering among the most important in German contemporary art are being made accessible to a Chinese audience for the first time on such a scale. (…)
Art helps to overcome distances and can be used as catalyst for improving understanding – that is the maxim of exhibition organisers Walter Smerling and Fan Di’an. I can only endorse this sentiment and hope that this understanding reaches a large part of the population and that not only art experts, but also many interested citizens, young people and visitors from around the world will attend this exhibition. Intercultural communication is a term that is often invoked – “Deutschland 8” fills it with life.”
Message from Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel / exhibition catalogue