Postwar: Art between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965
Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
14. October 2016 - 26. March 2017


curators: Okwui Enwezor, Katy Siegel, Ulrich Wilmes

Postwar: Art between the Pacific and Atlantic 1945 – 1965, is a landmark and unprecedented historical project that will, for the first time focus on the production of art across all continents under the conditions engendered by the Second World War. The exhibition features around 180 artists from 50 countries and is organized in eight thematic sections (Aftermath: Zero Hour and the Atomic Era; Form Matters; New Images of Man; Realisms; Concrete Visions; Cosmopolitan Modernisms; Nations Seeking Form; Networks, Media and Communication) that enfold the different regional, national and transnational relations and connections of artistic production over the twenty year focus of the exhibition survey. Research into the exhibition has incorporated institutions, scholars and experts from a range of disciplines and perspectives; resulting in a major conference of nearly forty presenters, held over three days at the Haus der Kunst in May 2014.

With its global perspective the exhibition’s intention shifts the focus away from the Western/European vantage point and redirects attention to the polyphonic and multifocal examination of art since 1945. Postwar - Art between the Pacific and Atlantic, 1945-1965 therefore seeks to understand the complex legacies of artistic practice and historical forces that emerged globally in the aftermath of World War II’s devastation. Through the vital relationship between artworks and artists, produced and understood from the perspectives of international, regional, and local contexts, the exhibition traces artistic developments during the first twenty years after the war by following the sweeping lines of the two oceans across Europe, Asia, the Pacific Rim, Africa, the Mediterranean, North America, and South America. Probing differing concepts of artistic modernity such as abstraction, realism, figuration, representation; developments in networks, mass media, and communication the exhibition explores how receptions and formulations of modernism informed and manifested specific variants of modern art. By following these lines, the exhibition invites reflection on the development of art that straddles continents, political structures, economic patterns, and institutional frameworks. Alert to the political and cultural implications of both the Pacific and Atlantic, the diachronic axis of the project’s research scope stretches from Japan to Germany as representatives of the Pacific and Atlantic hemispheres, while touching other regions. 

Selected artists:

Francis Bacon, Joseph Beuys, Willem de Kooning, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Ben Enwonwu, Jasper Johns, On Kawara, Krishen Khanna, Isamu Noguchi, Helio Oiticica, Colette Oluwabamise Omogbai, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerard Sekoto, Kazuo Shiraga, Andy Warhol 

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