By B. John Zavrel
One of Germany's best known contemporary painters is dead: Jörg Immendorff. Shown here posing with his work "Yellow and Brown Baby" at the opening of his exhibition at the Gallery of Contemporary Fine Arts in Berlin in 2003.
Düsseldorf/New York (meaus) After a short battle with an incurable disease of the nervous system, the painter and art professor Jörg Immendorff died at the age of only 61 years in Düsseldorf.
He was born on June 14, 1945--just after the end of World War II. In 1970's he created a cycle of paintings "Cafe Germany", with which he criticized the post-war division of Germany by Russians and Americans. This theme has become one of the central themes of his work for many years.
Immendorff and his 30-years younger wife Oda Jaune shown in 2006 with a copy of his Illustrated Bible. It is not known why Immendorff, an admirer of the Chinese communist dictator Mao, would want to illustrate a Bible with pictures of his works. Maybe he got inspired by seeing similar illustrated Bibles by the Austrian painter Ernst Fuchs or the surrealist Salvador Dalí.
Immendorff also designed theater sets, often collaborating with the painter A. R. Penck from Dresden. Later one, Jörg Immendorff co-founded the movement of young painters in Germany; the artists called themselved "The Young Wild Ones".
In 1998, he was the first German artist after World War II to have a retrospective of his works exhibited in the National Museum in Warsaw, Poland.
Jörg Immendorf in his studio in 2006. At this time, he suffers an incurable illness of the nervous system, and seeks refuge in drugs and orgies. Arrested by the police in a hotel room during a sex orgy with several prostitutes and high on cocaine, the scandal brings public disgrace to the artist. Eventually, he is spared jail, and gets off only a with a heavy fine.
In his late works, Jörg Immendorff started to turn somewhat toward surrealism. He continued to design theater sets, this time especially for the theater in Salzburg, Austria.
He becomes an artistic advisor to the previous German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who takes him along on his official trips abroad, and makes his portrait.
Diagnosed with the incurable Lou Gehrig's disease several years ago, Immendorff's health has been rapidly deteriorating in the past 2 years. Under his directions, a 'Golden portrait' of the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is completed in March 2007, no doubt much of it painted by his assistants. The artist presented the work as a temporary loan to the Chancellor, who was enchanted by the portrait.
© PROMETHEUS 120/2007
PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin - News, Politics, Art and Science. Nr. 120, June 2007