Neo Rauch

Neo Rauch's (b. 1960) paintings are characterized by their distinctive combination of figurative imagery and surrealist abstraction. His enigmatic compositions employ an eccentric iconography of human characters, animals, and hybrid forms within familiar-looking but imaginary settings. While Rauch begins each work without a preconceived idea of the finished result, there is a uniquely recognizable, visual coherence to his oeuvre. Paintings often display palettes of strong, complementary colors, and recurrent subjects include the seamless integration of organic and non-organic elements as well as references to the creative process, music, and manual labor. The artist's treatment of scale is deliberately arbitrary and non-perspectival, and often seems to allude to different time zones or planes of existence.

Rauch was born in 1960 in Leipzig, where he continues to live and work, and studied at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst. Since 2000, Rauch's work has been represented by David Zwirner. His 2019 solo exhibition Propaganda, featured at the gallery’s Hong Kong location, marked the artist’s eighth gallery presentation and his first solo presentation in China. Previous solo exhibitions at the gallery in New York include At the Well (2014), Heilstätten (2011), Neo Rauch (2008), Renegaten (2005), Neo Rauch (2002), and Neo Rauch (2000), which marked his United States debut. In 2021, The Signpost, a solo exhibition of new works by the artist, was on view at David Zwirner, New York. 

Rauch's work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions internationally. In July 2023, a solo presentation of the artist’s work will open at MoCo Montpellier Contemporain, France. In 2022, Neo Rauch: Die Mitte was on view at Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle, in the Netherlands.  Neo Rauch – Works from 2008 to 2019 was on view at the Palazzo Pitti, Florence, in 2019-2020. Neo Rauch: Aus dem Boden was presented in 2019 at Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, and traveled to The Drawing Center, New York. Neo Rauch Dromos Painting 1993–2017 was presented at Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle, Netherlands, in 2018. In 2013, BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels presented a solo show of the artist’s work entitled Neo Rauch: The Obsession of the Demiurge. Selected Works 1993-2012 and in 2010 his first major museum survey was co-hosted by the Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig and the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich. A version of this survey was shown at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw in 2011. 

Other venues which have presented solo exhibitions include the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Germany (2012); Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Germany (2011); Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria (2011); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2007); Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague (2007); Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (2006); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2006); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2005); Albertina, Vienna (2004); and the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, The Netherlands (2002).
The Grafikstiftung Neo Rauch opened in June 2012 in Aschersleben, Germany, where the artist was raised. The foundation is dedicated to maintaining and preserving Rauch's entire graphic oeuvre. In celebration of its ten year anniversary, the The Grafikstiftung Neo Rauch will present an exhibition of Rauch’s prints since 1988, on view through April 28, 2024. 

Museum collections which hold works by the artist include the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. 

A detail view of a painting by Neo Rauch titled Die Wegzehr, dated 2015
Neo Rauch, Die Wegzehr, 2015 (detail)

From October 9th, 2022 to March 26th, 2023, the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands, will shine its spotlight on the work of world-renowned painter Neo Rauch. In the overview of Neo Rauch – Wegzehr, the focus is entirely on Rauch's works on paper. The exhibition includes around a hundred works, most of which have never been seen in the Netherlands before.

Neo Rauch (*1960) is one of the most important contemporary artists. His pictures, which are characterized by reserved colors, seem like disturbing dream worlds. In his works, Neo Rauch interweaves his eventful biography and political history in a unique way. In addition to impressive large formats in oil on paper, smaller works can also be seen: lithographs and drawings created with pencil, ballpoint pen or felt-tip pen. They offer a more intimate look at the working process of this master of his craft. The exhibition is dedicated exclusively to works on paper – a facet of Rauch's oeuvre that is relatively unknown to the general public.

The Neo Rauch – Wegzehr exhibition is part of a series of shows that the Drents Museum has organized on the painting of the New Leipzig School, including solo exhibitions by Rosa Loy, David Schnell, Matthias Weischer and Kristina Schuldt. The show by Neo Rauch, who can be seen as the figurehead of this movement, now forms the climax.

Learn more at Drents Museum.

A painting by Neo Rauch, titled Vulkanschule, dated 2022

Neo Rauch, Vulkanschule, 2022.

From September 9 through January 8th, 2023, an exhibition of Neo Rauch’s work is on view at the Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle, Netherlands. Neo Rauch: Die Mitte presents an overview of nearly fifty of Rauch’s recent paintings alongside an early series of tondo paintings that the artist made in 1993 and 1994. 

This is the second exhibition the Museum de Fundatie has dedicated to Rauch’s paintings, following on Neo Rauch: Dromos in 2018, which presented a major retrospective of his work from 1993 to 2017. 

A catalogue, published by Waanders Uitgevers and Museum de Fundatie, will accompany Die Mitte, with texts by Hubertus Gassner, Hans den Hartog Jager, Ralph Keuning, Bettina Krause and Uwe Tellkamp. Learn more about the exhibition at Museum de Fundatie

October 17, 2019–January 12, 2020

A solo exhibition of paintings by Neo Rauch at the Pitti Palace in Florence features a group of new paintings created for this special location, in addition to works dating back to 2008. The Andito degli Angiolini space inside the famous 19th-century palace provides a fitting context for the artist’s unique compositions. In his contemporary approach to the traditions of figurative painting and Surrealism, enigmatic scenes combine personal as well as universal themes and layer historical references. As the artist explained in an interview on the occasion of a solo exhibition at the gallery in London, “Painting is to me a second skin, everything I want to express has to come through this skin.” The exhibition in Florence is curated by Max Seidel and Serena Calamai, and will be accompanied by an English as well as an Italian catalogue, published by Giunti Editore.

Rauch’s first exhibition in Italy opens on the heels of a critically acclaimed survey of the artist’s drawings at the Drawing Center in New York, as well as a celebrated solo exhibition of recent paintings at David Zwirner in Hong Kong earlier this year.

April 12—July 28, 2019

Neo Rauch: Aus dem Boden/From the Floor was the first exhibition in the United States to focus on the artist’s works on paper. First presented at Des Moines Art Center in Iowa (September 28, 2018–January 6, 2019), the show has been organized by Des Moines director Jeff Fleming and Brett Littman, former executive director of The Drawing Center in New York.

Aus dem Boden/From the Floor included some one hundred and eighty large and small-scale works on paper, the majority of which had not been shown before. Like Rauch’s paintings, these works are characterized by a distinctive combination of figurative imagery and surrealist abstraction. His enigmatic compositions feature an eccentric cast of human characters, animals, and hybrids within familiar-looking but imaginary settings in which scale is often arbitrary, seeming to allude to different time zones or planes of existence. While some of the drawings are finished works in their own right, others are sketches that help to reveal the artist’s process or record an idea.

Composed using a mixture of media including paint, pen, and marker, many of Rauch’s drawings contain notes in the margins from meetings with collectors, curators, and friends. For Peter Schjeldahl, who reviewed the artist’s work in Drawing Now: Eight Propositions at MoMA QNS (The Museum of Modern Art, New York) in 2002, Rauch’s works evoke "a double sense of the verb ‘to draw’: to limn and to pull forth"—not only appropriating history and the work of other artists, but bringing them to "fractious life."

On view through May, 4, 2019 at David Zwirner in Hong Kong, Neo Rauch: Propaganda was an exhibition of new paintings by the artist. This show marked Rauch's debut solo presentation in China and was accompanied by a catalogue featuring a short story by Daniel Kehlmann. To coincide with this exhibition, the gallery presented an Online Viewing Room highlighting Neo Rauch's printmaking practice.

January 21–June 3, 2018

Neo Rauch Dromos Painting 1993-2017 presented more than 60 works tracing the artist's career from his first solo exhibition in Leipzig in 1993 up to the present day. The exhibition also included works by other artists from the private collection of Neo Rauch and his wife, Rosa Loy.

A publication accompanying the exhibition features texts by Ralph Keuning, Harald Kunde, Ulf Küster, Norman Rosenthal, and Klaus Werner.

Directed by Nicola Graef, Neo Rauch: Comrades and Companions (2016) is a documentary exploring the artist’s life and work. Filmed over three years at Rauch’s studio in Leipzig and at exhibitions in America, Asia, and Europe, the film features conversations with the artist and with his wife, Rosa Loy, among others, that offer unprecedented insight into his enigmatic practice.

Coinciding with Neo Rauch's 2014 exhibition at the New York gallery, David Zwirner Books published At the Well. The catalogue features a text by historian and curator Norman Rosenthal, as well as a reprint of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Young Giant, which Rosenthal specifically chose to further expand his analysis of the relationship between fairy tales and Rauch's work.

Installation view of the exhibition titled Neo Rauch at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, dated 2010.

In 2010, Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig and Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich presented Begleiter, a two-venue retrospective of Neo Rauch's work. The exhibition featured 120 predominantly large-scale works from 1993 to 2010. This was the artist's first major museum survey.

Hatje Cantz published the accompanying exhibition catalogue. The two-sided book was designed to reflect the exhibition's two parts and venues, and included contributions by Rauch's long-time colleagues, including fellow artists Michaël Borremans and Luc Tuymans.

Pictured below: Installation view of Begleiter at thePinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2010)

Installation view of the exhibition titled para at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, dated 2007.

May 22–October 14, 2007

Neo Rauch created 14 new works specifically for the exhibition para at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His solo exhibition was one in a series focused on mid-career artists, following exhibitions featuring Tony Oursler in 2005 and Kara Walker in 2006.

The title para refers to Rauch's consideration of painting's as an extension of dreaming, a parallel world to reality. On this subject, Rauch has said "For me, painting means the continuation of a dream with other means."

bilingual catalogue in German and English accompanied the exhibition, published by DuMont Buchverlag.

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