The Surprise – East German artists from before and after the Wende

Volker Steizmann, Tamara with assistant and knife thrower.

Anyone who thinks that only social realist art was made in the GDR will be surprised at the exhibition Die Überraschung (The Surprise) – East German artists before and after the Wende: surprised by the kaleidoscopic versatility and the high quality of the art from the East of Germany. The exhibition aims to focus on artists trained in the GDR, who initially made their work within the – often harrowing – restrictions of the political system. Some artists left the GDR before the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

In 1990, the two Germanies were reunited and the GDR became ‘Ein Land das es nicht mehr gibt’ – a land that no longer exists. East German artists had to come to terms with their past, whether they went to the West or stayed in the East. Their post-1990 work often bears witness to their dealings with that past, with liberties regained and illusions lost. 

The exhibition contains more than 60 works by, among others, the following artists: Bernhard Heisig, Volker Stelzmann, Hubertus Giebe, Helge Leiberg, Norbert Wagenbrett, Harald Metzkes, Werner Stötzer, Wolfgang Peuker, Max Uhlig, Cornelia Schleime, Annette Schröter, Trak Wendisch, Rolf Händler , Hans Ticha, Wieland Förster, Strawalde (Jürgen Böttcher), Peter Herrmann, Werner Liebmann, Ralf Kerbach, Reinhard Stangl, A.R. Penck, Werner Tübke, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Willi Sitte, Hartwig Ebersbach, Stefan Plenkers, Walter Libuda and Gerhard Altenbourg. 

The exhibition celebrates the fifth anniversary of Museum No Hero in Delden. There are plans for the exhibition to tour to various museums in Europe from May 2024. 

Museum No Hero, Delden
Open Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 5pm