Neo Rauch: PROPAGANDA
Text by Daniel Kehlmann
One of the most influential figurative painters of his generation, Neo Rauch presents bold, new work in PROPAGANDA.
Rauch is widely celebrated for his captivating compositions that bring together figurative painting and surrealism into an entirely new kind of visual encounter. They often hint at broader narratives and histories—seemingly reconnecting with artistic traditions of realism—but they remain dreamlike and impossible to reduce to a single story. Though his art is highly refined and executed with great technical skill, Rauch himself stresses the intuitive, deeply personal nature of how he works. As the artist notes, “My process is far less a reflection than it is drawing from the sediments of my past, which occurs in an almost trance-like state.”
Eight large-scale canvases and seven smaller, more intimately scaled works continue the artist’s exploration of figuration and the ambiguous nature of meaning in visual art. In some of the larger works, the saturation of the canvas with characters, objects, and forms, all rendered at different scales and in conflicting arrangements, creates a collage-like quality—a figurative scrapbook of Rauch’s personal iconography.
The publication features a short story by German novelist and playwright Daniel Kehlmann, which was inspired by the paintings in this book. The fantastical text moves between present-day New York and an unknown time of enchanted forests, knights, and witches, exploring the many layers found in Rauch’s canvases. Published on the occasion of the artist’s solo exhibition at David Zwirner Hong Kong in 2019, PROPAGANDA is available in both English-only and editions.
Publisher: David Zwirner Books
Artists: Neo Rauch, Spotlight Series
Contributors: Daniel Kehlmann
Printer: Asia One, Hong Kong
Publication Date: 2019
Dimensions: 6 ¾ × 9 ½ in | 17.1 × 24.1 cm
Reproductions: 31 color
Retail: $35 | £25
Neo Rauch’s paintings are characterized by a unique combination of realism and surrealist abstraction. In many of his compositions, human figures engaged in manual labor or indeterminable tasks work against backdrops of mundane architecture, industrial settings, or bizarre and often barren landscapes. These figures, though squarely centered in his paintings, often have the appearance of being part of still lifes devoid of a human presence or collaged elements belonging to different time zones. Scale is frequently arbitrary and non-perspectival, which adds to an overall dreamlike atmosphere; the spatial relationships construct their own imaginary realm.
Each title in the Spotlight Series from David Zwirner Books features new work by a leading contemporary artist. Available in both English-only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions, this series makes the work of these important artists accessible to a wider audience.
Daniel Kehlmann is a German novelist, essayist, and playwright. His literary works have won the Candide Prize, Heimito von Doderer Literature Prize, Kleist Prize, Thomas Mann Prize, and the Welt Literature Prize. His novel Measuring the World (2007) has been translated into forty languages.