Curator of the exhibiton, Jeffrey D. Grove, said, "With the huge international interest in the these artists, we are pleased to feature them in Cleveland through Project 244. Collectively they represent a new generation of German painters who will undoubtedly be recognized as among the most significant artists of the time."
The seven artists in this exhibition made a profound impression on the contemporary art world. Their highly idiosyncratic and gripping landscapes, urban views, and interiors have a generally surreal character. Puzzling scenes—sometimes reminiscent of other places and times—convey a wicked air. Some images present a palpable Cold War sensibility, while others evoke a sense of stasis or dreamlike musing. Scenarios meant to imply narratives are at once emotional and indifferent. Several images emit an elegant frigidity, suggesting both a cool ambience and an emotional void; others depict an ambivalent connection between the natural and the artificial, reinterpreting the environment and the space one occupies in it.
The artists in this exhibition included Tilo Baumgärtel (German, b. 1972); Tim Eitel (German, b. 1971); Martin Kobe (German, b. 1973); Christoph Ruckhäberle (German, b. 1972); David Schnell (German, b. 1971); Matthias Weischer (German, b. 1973); and at 44, the elder statesman of the group, Neo Rauch (German, b. 1960).
Among German art academies, Leipzig Academy is the oldest, founded in 1764; it holds a prominent status among painters with its first figurative painting course in 1961. The first two years of the structured academic program at the Leipzig Academy is emphasized by portrait and nude studies. When Germany was divided after World War II, West German art schools rejected figurative painting as a result of the Third Reich's use of art as propaganda, while East Germany continued the use of political art. Artists of the Leipzig Academy were known for historical paintings with little socialist realistic imagery, focusing on expressionist style.
After Germany's reunification in 1990, the Leipzig Academy continued with traditional painting techniques. Students who attended were from East and West Germany and became the first generation to grow up in the reunified Germany. Recalling the rise of the "Neo-Geo" and "New-Image" movements in the 1980s and the YBAs (or Young British Artists) in the 1990s, the phenomenal evolution of the so-called Leipzig school is a cultural and artistic watershed that made a profound impression on the contemporary art scene.