Mülheimer Freiheit

After the art world had allowed itself to be distracted from the classical pictorial for years by minimal art and conceptual art, a huge “hunger for images” emerged at the end of the 1970s. Like-minded artists joined forces and sought to shake off the imprint of the imageless years; groups and loose groupings emerged in all parts of the world. Germany’s major cities shine with their Young & New Wild Ones, the new generation of painters revitalises figurative painting and drives forward an exciting new departure.

In the autumn of 1980, the six friends Hans Peter Adamski, Peter Bömmels, Walter Dahn, Jiří Georg Dokoupil, Gerard Kever and Gerhard Naschberger moved into a shared studio at Mülheimer Freiheit 110 in Cologne. Their provocative, spontaneous, often figurative works soon became part of every renowned exhibition of “wild painting” in the early 1980s. The conceptual aspects that the artists had been working on before the merger were not lost but were carried over into their new work. The group engaged in an intensive, continuous exchange – Walter Dahn and Jiří Georg Dokoupil in particular collaborated frequently and worked together on paintings and sculptures – but without committing themselves to a unified concept. They work without a manifesto or statute; their association is based on their friendship, a unified attitude towards the art of the 1970s and the desire to radically break with it.

In addition to the strong group dynamic, Mülheimer Freiheit is characterized by a high degree of questioning of their own work and themselves; they are far from taking themselves too seriously. Although the group split up only a few years later, the artists left behind an unprecedented oeuvre full of absurdities, contradictions and humour, an expression of their consensual rebellion against the frowned-upon conformity of the art of the preceding years.

Installation views