Art between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945 – 1965

“Postwar” was the first of a three-part international research and exhibition project titled “Postwar – Postcolonialism – Postcommunism”, organised by the Haus der Kunst in Munich. This extensive project, which has run from 2013 to 2019, was based on essentially ideological parameters which have shaped world history since 1945: the postwar period (1945 – 1965), the end of colonial imperialism (1960 – 1980) and the not-yet concluded postcommunist era (since 1989).

The main objective of the project was to describe these three historically significant ideologies and their significance for art and culture. The confrontation of social systems is frequently expressed in contradictory functions which play out in culture – for example, in the irreconcilable debate on realism and abstraction between the communist and capitalist systems. We are all aware of the military conflicts, the aggressive wrangling for influence and the competitive demonstration of superiority of capitalism or communism in terms of economic might and scientific know-how. But what impact did this have on culture? How did the rhetoric of the Cold War shape the developments of art and their respective lines of discourse?

These were the kinds of questions which the exhibition project attempted to answer without automatically reverting to established West European models of explanation. The participants included researchers, authors and artists from Eastern European countries, China, Japan, the United States, India and Africa.

“Postwar” introduced global aspects to the predominantly Western perspective on the political, economic and cultural landscape of the second half of the 20th century. In this way, the project encouraged us to shift our view away from established Eurocentric perspectives. It aimed to highlight developments and regions, which Western society has long overlooked or regarded as being inconsequential.

The first part of the project, “Postwar”, started in 2013 with an extensive research phase which aimed to identify the various cultural-historic development in the postwar years in countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Central Asia and Indochina, Africa and North and South America.

The research findings have been compiled and presented in publications and in a multiple-day international congress. They have formed the basis for developing an exhibition concept and selection criteria for the displays in the exhibition, which took place at the Haus der Kunst in Munich until March 2017. The exhibition has been accompanied by an extensive programme comprised of numerous discussion events which explored the themes of the project in greater detail. An online platform and extensive publication document the entire project complex.

Artistic director: Okwui Enwezor
Curators: Okwui Enwezor, Katy Siegel, Ulrich Wilmes
Artists: Lygia Clark (BR), Öyvind Fahlström (SE), Gutai (JP), Tadeusz Kantor (PL), Wifredo Lam (CU), Ernest Mancoba (SA),, A. R. Penck, Gerhard Richter, Gerard Sekoto (SA), Anwar Jalal Shemza (PK), Andrzej Wróblewski (LT) and others

Postwar international conference: 21-24 May 2014

Conceived as an in-depth study of the postwar period, the international conference, “Postwar – Art between the Pacific and Atlantic, 1945–1965″ shifted from a Western/European vantage point to redirect attention to a multifocal and polyphonic history of art since 1945.

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  • 14 October, 2016 to 26 March, 2017: Exhibition

    Haus der Kunst, München

  • 21 May, 2014 to 24 May, 2014: Conference

    Haus der Kunst, München


Haus der Kunst

Prinzregentenstraße 1
80538 München (external link, opens in a new window)