Neo Rauch is the shining star of the New Leipzig School. His paintings, drawings and prints are hot in demand on the international art market. Key works are currently on show in Berlin.
When MoMa Director Glenn Lowry went shopping in Germany in January 2008 for the New York Museum of Modern Art collection, he purchased works by Joseph Beuys, Martin Kippenberger, Andreas Gursky - and a painting by Neo Rauch.
The Leipzig artist is one of Germany's leading stars. His figurative, neo-Socialist, retro-style works have put the quality stamp on the New Leipzig School - a brand that is almost as well-known as Volkswagen or BMW.
New German art shows the way
Feature writers call the phenomenon a "German painting miracle." At the turn of the century, the term New Leipzig School made waves for the first time, with collectors and museum curators at the world's most prestigious art fairs vying for works by young Leipzig art students.
Neo Rauch, a native to the eastern German city, studied at the Leipzig Academy for Visual Arts from 1981 to 1986. He spent the next four years as a master student to Bernhard Heisig, a pioneer of the "old" Leipzig School.
The term 'New Leipzig School' emerged as a new generation of young artists followed in Neo Rauch's tracks, daring once again to represent reality - a sensation at the time, as the 1990s were dominated by installations that took a critical view of the market and the museum.
Oil on canvas
Rauch skyrocketed to stardom. His art dealer, Gerd Harry Lybke, helped open the US market to the Leipzig artist's works. Today, Rauch's works hang in museums in Miami, Los Angeles and, of course, MoMA in New York.
The 'individual under threat' is a central motif in Rauch's art. The 55-year-old artist skews everyday themes, and puts them together in unusual combinations charged with symbolism. The clothing worn by the people he depicts are from different eras. He creates mysterious images that have a touch of the surreal: there is no clear-cut interpretation. The colors Neo Rauch uses tend to be dull, which gives the works the feeling of belonging to a different era.
"Im Schlaf der Welt" at Bötzow Berlin - Rauch's first solo exhibition in six years - shows key works from his oeuvre: large-format oil paintings, graphics and two bronze sculptures. The exhibition runs until March 15, 2016.