Ludwig Museum Opens East of Eden / Photorealism: Versions of Reality Photorealism as a Cold-War phenomenon

The Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art presents East of Eden / Photorealism: Versions of Reality: Photorealism as a Cold-War phenomenon, on view 14 September 2011–15 January 2012.


Don Eddy, Untitled (Volkswagen), 1971. Acryl on canvas, 122 x 152 cm. Photo © MUMOK, Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Leihgabe der Österreichischen Ludwig Stiftung

Photorealism came into its own at the end of the 1960s, arising from the challenge posed by photographic depiction to realist painting, and is mostly associated with well-known American and Western European artists and their works. The Budapest Ludwig Museum exhibition expands the scope of earlier shows in Vienna (MUMOK, 2010) and Aachen (Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, 2011), both of which included materials from the Ludwig’s collection. Our exhibition offers new approaches to similar Central- and Eastern European tendencies by virtue of a complex interpretation of Cold War realism.

True-to-life photographic representation and analytical depiction also found followers on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain, although not in the same measures or with the same convictions as in the West. The different political and cultural contexts, the long-standing historical tradition of realism and the lack of an art market or consumer culture meant that Central and Eastern European photo-based realism faced fundamentally different perspectives.

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