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Culture

60 works of art for 60 years of Germany

Sixty influential artworks are on display in Berlin to celebrate Germany's 60 years of statehood. Only works by West German artists are shown, as organizers said they wanted to emphasize freedom and avoid national art.

Gerhard Richter in front of his painting 'Family at the sea'

Gerhard Richter fled East Germany in 1961 and made a name for himself in the West

Under the title "60 years, 60 works," the exhibition begins with a still-life by Werner Heldt from 1949 and concludes with a new light installation by Tobias Rehberger. There's one piece of art for each year between the founding of the German state in 1949 and the present.

Sixty short films accompany the artwork give visitors an overview of important events in Germany from each year and elucidate the external influences that shaped the works.

Works like Joseph Beuys' concert piano covered in felt (1966), a collection of Joerg Immendorff's money sculptures and Martin Kippenberger's life-sized wooden gondola, called "Transporter for Social Boxes" (1989), provide a sampling of the art that has had an impact on Germany over the past six decades - at least on democratic West Germany.

East German art is conspicuously absent from the show.

However, organizers have said one of their aims was to show the value of state-guaranteed freedom for the arts - which was denied artists in the communist former East Germany.

Political freedom for art

Artist Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys, seen here in 1980

Walter Smerling, from the Foundation for Art and Culture - Bonn, which is organizing the exhibit, said it was conceived according to Article 5, Paragraph 3 of the German constitution, which states that "art and science, research and teaching are free."

"It's not about national art," dpa news agency quoted one of the curators, art critic Peter Iden, as saying.

After World War II, West Germany experienced an "unparalleled cultural boom in a free society," Iden added.

Nevertheless, works by several artists who fled East Germany and continued their careers in the West - including AR Penck, Gerhard Richter and Guenther Uecker - are included in the exhibition.

Held at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, the exhibition opens to the public on April 30, with an address by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It runs through June 14, 2009.

For a look at the sixty works, click on the link below to the Web site of the exhibition's German-language media partner.

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