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Culture

Immendorff Exhibit Opens in Berlin

The Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin on Friday opened a new exhibition featuring some of the most important work of German artist Jörg Immendorff, one of the leading contemporary arts in the world.

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The new show details the span of a creative life

They came to honor Jörg Immendorff -- 600 of his friends and admirers, including Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. But they also came to view the more than 100 works of his on display.

"He is our ambassador to the world," Schröder told reporters. The artists is reportedly the chancellor's favorite.

Others, such as German Culture Minister Christina Weiss, echoed such praise during the opening reception for a retrospective of the artist.

"Jörg Immendorff and his work is a piece of German history," she said.

Political surrealism

In the upper hall, the artist has composed a spectacular scene: six red pavillions and a freestanding wall linked by red paths that ties into an earlier composition, LIDL Stadt, and features work form different phases of the artist's creative life.

Jörg Immendorff Ausstellung in Berlin

"The picture has to take over the function of a potato," the banner over the artist advises

That will include some of the LIDL works, named after an invented word for the noise of a child's rattle and later works from the Café Deutschland series, 16 paintings started in 1977 which depicts the conflict between East and West Germany.

The exhibition will feature paintings, sculture and collages and will run until Jan. 22.

A forceful creativity

Immendorff, 60, studied at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf under Joseph Beuys before being dismissed for not fitting in with his political surrealism.

He then worked as an art teacher before becoming a professor, lecturing at institutions around Europe and later in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf.

Jörg Immendorff Ausstellung in Berlin

Jörg Immendorff and his wife Oda open the show

He won various awards including the lucrative MARCO prize in 1997. And in addition to painting and sculpture, he designed stages including two for the Salzburg Festival.

In 1998, Immendorff was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Eventually, the disease left him unable to paint with his left hand anymore -- so he switched to the right. In 2004, he funded a foundation to fund research of the disease.

A controversial life

Immendorf is no stranger to controversy. In 2000, he married a former student who is more than 30 years his junior. The two had a daughter in August 2001.

In August 2003, Jörg Immendorff was caught in a Düsseldorf hotel with seven prostitutes (and four more on their way) and some cocaine. More cocaine was found in his studio. Prosecutors determined that the amount was more than the legal threshold for personal use and decided to prosecute. After a trial last year, where he admitted to have organizing numerous previous meetings with prostitutes and using cocaine, he was sentenced to 11 months probation and fined 150,000 euros ($181,200).

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