Jörg Immendorff is numbered among the most renowned German artists of the post-war era. Besides his artistic occupation as graphic and performance artist, painter, sculptor, and stage designer, the socially committed artist cultivated close contacts to artist colleagues in West and East Germany. In addition to friendships with A.R. Penck, Sigmar Polke, Georg Baselitz, and Markus Lüpertz, he cultivated a special relationship to his reacher Joseph Beuys throughout his life, who has been a mentor and role model for his own artistic work.
- Born on: 14 June 1945
- Died on: 28 May 2007
- Nationality: German
- Studied at: Kunstakademie Dusseldorf
- Teachers: Teo Otto, Joseph Beuys
- Similar artists: Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, Sigmar Polke, A.R. Penck, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter
- Era: Post-war art
- Stylistic direction: Modern art
Jörg Immendorff's painting and imagery, steadily shaped by political and historical reference to German history, represents the quarrels and conflicts of the post-war generation in divided Germany. His style always distinctive, partly surreal, representational, figurative - portrays critically the events and the state of the Federal Republic's society as a whole.
Early life and education
Jörg Immendorff was born on 14 June 1954 in Bleckede close to Lüneburg, the son of an officer and a secretary. In later years, he described his parents' early divorce in 1965 as the most shaping event of his childhood. As early as a boarding school pupil in Bonn he knew he wanted to become an artist. He began to study at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf in the 1960s, initially in Teo Otto's class for performing art. In 1964, he switched to the art department under direction of Joseph Beuys, who was to become a role model, mentor, and benchmark of the young Immendorff's own artistic work from this time on. In cooperation with his later wife Chris Reinecke he initiated the action project Lidl. Its purpose was to give the broad public that is unfamiliar with the common art business an understanding of alternative, artistic concepts with neo-dadaist actions. In this way, art participated in the riot of the 1968 generation, with whose aims Immendorff as a member of the non-parliamentar opposition and the Maoist KDP/AO could identify. Subversive actions that were supposed to unveil the Federal Republic's dusted morality eventually led to Immendorff's expel from the academy.
Later years and free artist
From 1968 until 1981, Jörg Immendorff, who has always been an enthusiastic and committed educator, worked as an art teacher. He taught primarily at the Dumont-Lindemann-Hauptschule in Dusseldorf until he entirely turned to free art in the early 1980s. Contrary to many other painters of his generation who dedicated themselves to abstraction, Immendorff's paintings are characterised by a striking and direct objectivity with a critical and sociopolitical impetus. In 1972, he presented a selection of the group of works Agitprop at the documenta 5 in Kassel, followed by a participartion in a group exhibition at the Biennale in Venice in 1976. In the 1970s, Immendorff began to increasingly commit himself to the artistic dialogue with the GDR and to protest against the dictatorship on the other side of the wall. A close friendship has connected him to the East German painter A. R. Penck, who was persecuted in his homeland and who later relocated to the West, since they met in Berlin in 1976. In joint works the two painters thematised the East-West German reality and denounced Germany's seemingly cemented division. Eventually, Immendorff got known to a wider public through his comprehensive series Cafe Deutschland that consists of 16 large-format canvas, in which he pictorally handled the East-West conflict in an especially impressive way. The coffee house as a symbol of sociopolitical reality is a guiding theme in Immendorff's oeuvre and turned up again in the self-referential series Café de Flore, in which Immendorff adressed his own person and artistic-sophisticated environment on a bigger scale for the first time. In Immendorff's pictoral cosmos, the ape as the artist's alter ego and artist‘s friend consistently plays a role. It functions as the artist's symbol of the fool of the society that he lives in, a social misfit who critically examines his environment. The ape stands for the artistic genius as well as the banal human instinct.
In the beginning of the 1980s, Immendorff's career increasingly gained momentum: in 1982, he featured on the Zeitgeist exhibition in Berlin, which introduced the new generation of artists in painting and sculpture, die Jungen Wilden (German for "wild youth"). Two years later, in 1984, he participated in the documenta 7 in Kassel featuring his famous sculpture Brandenburger Tor as well as the exhibition Von hier aus – Zwei Monate neue deutsche Kunst in Dusseldorf. In the same year, he opened his own trendy pub called La Paloma in the famous St. Pauli district of Hamburg; for the square opposite his pub he created a sculptural monument for the artist Hans Albers. Followed by his first guest professorship in Sweden in 1981, Immendorff received first positions as guest lecturer in Germany, at first at the Cologne factory schools, and, subsequently, at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. During this time, he realised diverse jobs in the field of stage design, including the Salzburg Festival and the Stadttheater in Bremen. Furthermore, the multi-talented artist created illustrations for cultural newspapers, for example the Lettre International. In 1989, he was appointed professor at the Städel-Schule in Frankfurt am Main, where he taught until 1996. Afterwards, he held a chair at the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf where his artistic occupation began. Immendorff became officially known at least since he had portrayed his friend Gerhard Schröder for the gallery of chancellors at the Chancellery building as well as the illustrations for the BILD bible
Especially the painter's private life, who masterfully employed the mass media for his own image promotion at all times, caught the media's attention. Through his relationship and later marriage with the more than thirty years younger student and Bulgarian painter Oda Jaune, whose real name is Michaela Danowska, he regularily hit the headlines in 2000. One daughter resulted from this marriage. In August 2003, Jörg Immendorff caused a scandal due to a drug incident which even led to conviction in the following year. The artist had consumed a fair quantity of cocaine in the presence of prostitutes in the suite of a high-quality hotel in Dusseldorf several times. The artist later stated that he has been consuming drugs since the mid 90s in order to cope with severe pain and the fear of death. Due to Immendorff's serious illness, the sentence was suspended and additionally charged with a heavy fine. He could also keep his professorship at the academy in Dusseldorf that he would have lost in the case of imprisonment. After a short suspension, Immendorff was allowed to teach again in 2004. In 2005, the national gallery in Berlin honoured him with a large-scale retrospective that contained all of the artist's creative periods. In the following year, the city of Goslar awarded Immendorff with the renowned Kaiserring for art that has never been an end in itself, but always strived for an immediate social impact.
Illness and death
In 1977, Jörg Immendorff was diagnosed with amytrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, an incurable neurological disorder. Immendorff was always open about the worsening disease of the motorical nerve system that leads to a progressive paralysis within a few years during his last years. Together with Christoph Schlingensief, the artist marked by serious illness even brought his suffering to stage in order to bring ALS into public consciousness. He also founded an ALS initiative including a grant for research of the disorder at the Berlin Charité. In spite of the progressive paralysis of his body he kept painting; he was, however, more and more dependent on his assistants' help who created his artworks based on the master's instructions. As the result of an emergency surgery in November 2005, the artist needed artificial respiration from then on. As a result of his disease, a sudden cardiac arrest caused Immendorff to die on 28 May 2007 at the age of 61 after years of suffering.
- Duisburg – Museum Küppersmühle
- Dusseldorf – Museum Kunstpalast
- Essen – Museum Folkwang
- Frankfurt a. M. – Städelsches Kunstinstitut
- Hamburg – Hamburger Kunsthalle
- Klosterneuburg – Die Sammlung Essl, Kunst der Gegenwart
- Cologne – Museum Ludwig
- Munich – Pinakothek der Moderne
- London – Tate Modern
- Paris – Centre Pompidou
- Paris – Galerie National du Jeu de Paume
- Straßburg – Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg
- Ottawa – National Gallery of Canada
- Zurich – Kunsthaus Zurich
- 2008 Jörg Immendorff was uns Malerei bedeuten kann – Essl Museum, Klosterburg / Vienna
- 2007 Jörg Immendorff Werke aus Bremer Sammlungen und Skulpturen im öffentlichen Raum – Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen
- 2007 Jörg Immendorff. Retrospektive der Zeichnungen - Museum Kunst Palast, Dusseldorf
- 2006 Neue Bilder - Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
- 2006 Facetten eines Werks - Städtische Galerie Karlsruhe
- 2006 Immendorff-Spezial. Gemälde aus der Sammlung Ludwig Ludwig -Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen
- 2005 Male Lago. Unsichtbarer Beitrag - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz
- 2005 Jörg Immendorff. Das Grafische Werk 1968- 2005 - Versicherungskammer Bayern, Munich
- 2004 I wanted to become an Artist - Goldey Paley Gallery, Philadelphia
- 2003 Jörg Immendorff. Das grafische Werk - Anders Galerie im Stilwerk, Dusseldorf
- 2003 Arbeiten auf Papier - Kunstverein Borken
- 2002 Wenn das Bild zum Berg kommt - China Millenium Monument, Beijing, China
- 2002 Fang Lijun i Jörg Immendorff. From two Cultures - Shanghai Contemporary, Shanghai, China
- 2002 Weltnase - Kunstverein Lippstadt
- 2001 New Paintings - Michael Werner Gallery, New York
- 2001 Allen Dingen ist der Wechsel Eigen - Staatliches Russisches Museum, St. Petersburg
- 2000 Immendorff. Bilder und Zeichnungen - Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover
- 2000 Immendorff. Bilder - Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund
- 1999 Jörg Immendorff - Gl. Holtegaard/Breda-Fonden, Holte, Denmark
- 1999 Jörg Immendorff. Malerwand - Museum Küppersmühle, Sammlung Grothe, Duisburg
- 1998 Jörg Immendorff. Zeichen, Symbole und Visionen - Muzeum Narodowe Warszawie, Warsaw, Retrospektive
- 1998 Malerdebatte - Kunstmuseum, Bonn
- 1997 ‚Rake’s Progress’ Eine Folge von 8 farbigen Radierungen - Maximilianverlag, Sabine Knust, Munich
- 1996 Bild mit Geduld - Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
- 1996 Gyntiana - Neuer Berliner Kunstverein
- 1995 The Rake’s Progress - Barbican Art Gallery, London
- 1994 Café de Flore - Museo Tamayo, Mexico
- 1993 Is it about a bicycle? - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
- 1992 Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam
- 1992-94 Immendorff. Malerei 1983-90 – Wanderausstellungen: National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyongju, Korea; Art Museum, Seoul art Centre (Korea); Pao Galleries, Hongkong; Art Gallery of Beijing International Art Palace, Peking, China; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
- 1991 Jörg Immendorff - Museum für Moderne Kunst, Vienna
- 1986 Zwölf Bilder - Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
- 1984 Café Deutschland and related Works - Museum of Modern Art, Oxford
- 1983/84 Immendorff - Kunsthaus Zurich
- 1982 Jörg Immendorff. Café Deutschland/Adlerhälfte - Kunsthalle Dusseldorf
- 1981 Jörg Immendorff. Pinselwiderstand - Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
- 1980 Malermut rundum - Kunsthalle Bern
- 1979 Café Deutschland - Kunstmuseum Basel
- 1978 Café Deutschland - Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
- 1977 Penck mal Immendorff – Immendorff mal Penck - Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
- 1975 Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, Vienna
- 1973 Hier und Jetzt: Das tun, was zu tun ist - Westfälischer Kunstverein Münster
- 1972 Rechenschaftsbericht - Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
- 1969 Planungsübersicht einer Arbeitswoche - Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
- 1967 Für alle Lieben in der Welt - Galerie Art Media, Cologne
- 1966 deutsch, deutsch, deutsch - Galerie Fulda
- 1966 vietnam, vietnam, vietnam - Galerie Aachen
- 1965 Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf
- 1961 New Orleans Club, Bonn
- 2006 December: ;Bambi’ in der Kategorie Kunst
- 2006 October: Goslarer Kaiserring, Kunstpreis
- 2005 Medienpreis ‚Goldene Feder’ für Lebenswerk
- 2004 ‚Berliner Bär’ im Bereich Kultur
- 2000 ‚Preis für bildende Kunst der Kulturstiftung Dortmund’
- 15. Juni 1998 Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland’
- 1996 Premio Marco, Museum of Modern Art in Monterrey, Mexico for ‚Accumulation 2’
- Lebens(w)ende, Documentary, Razvan Georgescu, Germany/Romania 2008.
- ICH.IMMENDORFF, Documentary, Nicola Graef, Germany 2007.
- Jörg Immendorff – Der letzte Kampf des Künstlers, Documentary, Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns/Stephan Lamby/Michael Wech, NDR, Germany 2007.
- Gero von Boehm begegnet... Jörg Immendorff, ZDF, Germany 2006.
- Durch die Nacht mit... Christoph Schlingensief und Jörg Immendorff, Film, Edda Baumann-von Broen, Arte, Germany 2004.
- Jörg Immendorff. Die Lästerzungen, TV-Portrait, Dirk Gion/Christoph Fleischer, Arte, Germany 2001.
- Immendorff-Zeichne, Vierbändige Katalogkassette, Roemer-Museum, Hildesheim 1989.
- Der Affe und Ich, TV-Film, Rainer Ostendrof, WDR, Germany 1989.
- Weltfrage, Documentary, Hans Peter Riegel/Jörg Immendorff, Dusseldorf 1982.
- Immendorff. Die Biographie, Hans-Peter Riegel, Berlin 2010.
- Jörg Immendorff. Zeichne/Draw. Exhibition catalogue, Museum Kunst Palast Düsseldorf, Cologne 2008.
- Jörg Immendorff Kaiserring 2006, Mönchehaus Museum für Moderne Kunst, Goslar 2006.
- Jörg Immendorff – Male Lago, Exhibition catalogue, Nationalgalerie Berlin, Cologne 2005.
- Jörg Immendorff. Standort für Kritik, hrsg. von Ulrich Wilmes/Kasper König, Exhibition catalogue Museum Ludwig Köln, Cologne 2004.
- Jörg Immendorff. I wanted to Become an Artist, hrsg. von Pamela Kort/Robert Storr, Exhibition catalogue, Goldie Paley Gallery Philadelphia, Cologne 2004.
- Jörg Immendorff. Wenn das Bild zum Berg kommt..., Exhibition catalogue, China International Exhibition Agency, China 2002.
- Jörg Immendorff: Allen Dingen ist der Wechsel eigen, Exhibition catalogue, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg 2001.
- Lidl Stadt, Exhibition catalogue, Anton Kern Gallery, New York 2001.
- Jörg Immendorff. Malerdebatte, Exhibition catalogue, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Cologne 1998.
- Jörg Immendorff. The Rake’s Progress, Exhibition catalogue, Barbican Art Gallery, London 1995.
- Jörg Immendorf. Café de Flore, Exhibition catalogue, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico 1994.
- Jörg Immendorff. Early Works and Lidl, published by Michael Werner
- Jörg Immendorff. Café Deutschland, Exhibition catalogue, Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel 1979.
- Hier und Jetzt: Das tun, was zu tun ist, in: Wetterleuchten! Künstler-Manifeste des 20. Jh., Hamburg 2000, p.2. 104-105.
- Dem alten Wahnsinn entgegen, in: ART, Nr. 3, März 1989, p. 75f.
- Immendorff, Jörg/Riegel, Hans Peter: FF bringts ‚La Paloma’, Hamburg 1984.
- An die ‚parteilosen’ Kollegen, in: KUNST-FORUM, 8/9, 1973/74, p.162-177.