When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the artist Neo Rauch was 30 years old, living in his East German hometown of Leipzig and just beginning to exhibit his paintings. It was the perfect moment for a painter who had been reared on Social Realism to gain access to art outside East Germany, to receive its influences into his art and to emerge onto the stage of world art as a star. At first closely identified with the generation of painters known as the Leipzig School, in recent years Rauch's wonderfully bizarre blend of Social Realism (not exactly a widely-mined style in contemporary art) with de Chirico or Stanley Spencer has come to be seen as a painterly barometer of post-Communist Europe. "Post-Communist Surrealism" could therefore be one way to describe the look of his canvases, which convey narrative intent--men and women from various historical eras performing obscure tasks in uniform, or midway through some ominous occasion--shifting styles several times within the same picture, but always displaying a lush brushwork. Rauch has established a particularly strong audience in the U.S., having been championed by "The New York Times"' Roberta Smith as "the" painter of the zeitgeist. Marking Rauch's fiftieth birthday and a simultaneous retrospective in Leipzig and Munich featuring works dating from 1982 to early 2010, this monograph is the most substantial appraisal of his work published to date. In it, his friends and colleagues supply testimonies, among them Luc Tuymans, Jonathan Meese and Michael Borremans. Alongside essays by critics and historians, Timm Rautert provides a photographic portrait of Rauch's studio.
Neo Rauch (born 1960) was born, reared and trained as an artist in Leipzig, where he continues to live. In August 2005, Rauch was awarded the chair of painting at Leipzig University.