Image Analysis (Opinion): Cafe Deutschland 1, Jörg Immendorf

Cafe Deutschland I, Jörg Immendorf, 1978

Cafe Deutschland I is the first in a series of sixteen paintings by Jörg Immendorf in which the differing ideologies of East and West Germany are juxtaposed.

The titular cafe is metaphorical, though based on the cafe and cabaret culture of Berlin. Two totem poles rise up prominently at the front of the painting on the left and right. The totem pole on the right is grey and depicts people holding it up as well as skulls. This suggests to me rural labourers supporting more decadent nightclub lifestyle as well as the mountains of bodies created by The Final Solution. The people on the right are also being spied on from above, suggestive of the Stasi and telltale culture encouraged in the GDR. At the back of the club there are semi-naked women that can be understood to be prostitutes.

On the left, the figure on the brown totem pole is holding a ukelele, which would symbolise frivolity to me, however it is also gagged: perhaps symbolising the suppression of joy. Above that there is an eagle with a large claw holding onto a swastika, people look freer - the atmosphere is lighter and they are dancing - however the composition would suggest that people are still overshadowed by the events of the war. Essentially the Nazi-legacy which has lead to the splitting of Germany, lives on in a fashion, as the Germans have not been trusted to run their own country.

Cafe Deutschland exists as a kind of stage, a theatrical display of the themes of life as experienced on both sides of the division and Immendorf uses a liberal idea of perspective and placement in order to depict his view of the identity struggles of the German people. 

Cafe Deutschland I does not seem to me to be a clear split of East and West within the canvas but a mash-up of the feelings and experiences of both sides played out within this metaphorical nightclub. 

** During semester one of my Second Year of Contemporary Art Practice, we were set eight images to analyse in order to practice writing about Art works. I will present the series backward. This is image three. **

Popular Posts