Susanne Neubauer

Formation and Heritage of the Brazilian Constructivism and Neoconcretism in the Transcultural Contexts of West German Conceptions of Modernity in the 1950s and 1960s

The focus of the research project is the investigation into the development of post war modernism in the diplomatic context of the young German Federal Republic considering the emergence of Brazilian art in Germany between 1945 and 1960 and proposes an altered reading of the its traditionally western concept. The project elaborates on the important contribution of Brazilian artists working in different genres to the dynamic and increasing differentiation of the West German art scene. A particular focus lies on the analysis of interpersonal contacts and of cultural misunderstandings, misappropriations and practices of westernization of Brazilian concepts into German contexts which have not afflicted the eurocentristic history of art. Brazilian discourses on art recurring to concretism and neoconcretismo appeared in Germany in exhibitions of modern art and were absorbed in graphic design. The development of Concrete Poetry in Brazil was equally linked to concrete painting of the country and arrived in Germany through existing networks. The interdisciplinary research investigates the necessary expansion of art historical debates about abstraction as international language in differentiation to the development of socialist art of the GDR and examines the recent discussion about the plurality of modernity. The research complements previous German-American and German-French studies on the history of West German self-exposure and cultural political initiatives after 1945 by a new external perspective making use of extensive archival based research. Furthermore, the research project makes a significant methodological contribution by linking contemporary transcultural research concepts of the history of art in a global context and the history of exhibitions to methods of critical art history after 1989.

Susanne Neubauer is a curator and art historian. She has a doctorate in art history from Zurich University and has published widely on the work of Paul Thek (MIT Press 2008, Yale University Press 2011, JRP/Ringier 2013, et al). She has worked as a curator for contemporary art at Kunstmuseum Luzern and curated exhibitions for such institutions as Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz and Moderna Museet Stockholm. She is currently working as a substitute professor for art history at HBK Braunschweig and will be subsequently heading the project “Formation and Heritage of Brazilian Constructivism and Neoconcretismo in the Transcultural Context of Western German Conceptions of Modernism in the 1950s and 1960s” at Freie Universität Berlin (funded by DFG, German Research Foundation).