Monday, April 2, 2012

Immendorf: die Biographie. H P Riegel. ISBN: 978-3-351-02723-0. by craniv boyd

Immendorf: die Biographie. H P Riegel. ISBN: 978-3-351-02723-0. by craniv boyd

Jörg Immendorf, (1945-2007), a German painter, and art professor is the subject of H P Riegel's biography. H P Riegel's is the first biography written on the artist, and seeing as the author knew the late painter on personal and professional terms, it is written a confidential way. in all cases it is informative both to the turbulent, hard working and hard partying life that Immendorf led. Yet as it is an account of an artist, those rare figures in society who see their calling to seek means to reflect upon a community that may, or may not celebrate them- the biography of Immendorf addresses issues of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) in the post war era. Most of the events in Immendorf's life occurred prior to Germany's reunification.

His birth is described as a "war birth" Kriegsgeburt seeing as his cavalry officer father, Armin Deitrich Immendorf, was on leave from the eastern front, when he begat Jörg Immendorf with Jörg's mother Irene. The opening chapter, describes what must have been horrifying circumstances to bring a child into the world, conditions that are nevertheless romanticized a tad. In that, the author holds,  Jörg Immendorf's birth at the end of the second World War, and the fact that he was sired while the war still raged, would have a later portent for the chaotic and shattered nature of some of his canvasses, is a bit far fetched. 

The seminal years, Immendorf spent in the Düsseldorf fine Arts Academy, during the tenure of the influential shamanistic artist Joseph Beuys, are recounted in a balanced way. Surprisingly the author address some of the gender inequalities that occurred with the select women art students, and the predominant boys club milieu that was found there. Part of the reason for this, is that at the time Immendorf attended the art academy he was wed to, Chris Reinecke, a fellow art student at the same fine art academy. Some of the hazing that she experienced was included in the recounting of Immendorf's time at the art academy. H P Riegel, characterizes their union as a partnership, and careful attention is given to the performance art collaborations that Chris Reinecke&Jörg Immendorf co-authored. 

Most of the remaining chapters of the book take their names from series of Immendorf's oeuvre, or singular works from it. The known Cafe Deutschland series and the multiform, re-workings of the same theme, are all written about. Despite the relative commercial success of Immendorf had within his life, as evinced by gallery sales, and gallery exhibitions in the nineteen eighties in New York with Illena Sonabend Gallery, and later Mary Boone Gallery, too much was apparently, not enough. Attention abroad, took quite some time to translate into museum exhibitions in Immendorf's home county, Germany.   

The tragic figure that Immendorf cuts, his dogged work ethic in the face of a diagnose of Lou Gehrigs disease, are how the final years of his life are told. Relentless work, as art professor and artist, in the advanced stages of this terminal neurological ailment, over shadow,  the years of cocaine and substance abuse that color Jörg Immendorf's earlier life. One would hope of an artists biography for more quality illustrations of the artists work, than are currently provided in Immendorf: die Biographie. Simply because an artist's creations were one of the things that an artist held dear in their life. H P Riegel's biography leaves moreover the impression of being a biography of a public personality, rather  an artist biography. by craniv boyd. 

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