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Wolfgang Mattheuer
Der Nachbar, der will fliegen
24.9.2022 – 15.1.2023

Painting: A garden in full bloom, with a pond in which the trees are reflected. A ladder leans against a tree.

»No one manages to make the entire world their home. But whoever understands their home as a piece of the world, can be a world citizen.« 

Wolfgang Mattheuer

Der Nachbar, der will fliegen (The Neighbor Who Wants to Fly) is the title of a significant painting by Wolfgang Mattheuer from the collection of the Ludwig Museum, Budapest and also the title of one of the two opening exhibitions at DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam. This painting brings together a number of the exhibition’s essential themes such as landscape, (Schreber-)gardens, environmental issues, and the mythological Icarus figure. The title’s suggestion that the neighbor wants to fly leaves open where and what he will find beyond the horizon—an unresolved tension, which is evident in the exhibition.  

Just as the mythological figure of Icarus sometimes embodies departure and the lust for adventure, and at times human pride and failure, Mattheuer’s works are full of subtle contradiction. Mattheuer reflected critically upon his time. Just how radical the statement “I . . . seek the contemporary, the problematic, the essential“ [1] must have been in 1973 can only be understood within the context of that time. However, it still constitutes the modernity of his art today.   

The exhibition shows works from 1960 until 2000. Wolfgang Mattheuer repeatedly painted his immediate surroundings and his own garden, which was also a place where he produced his art. He often escaped from the confines of Leipzig, where he was based, to find refuge in the garden of his birthplace in Reichenbach (Vogtland) and the vast countryside. At times his landscape painting seems to arise from visible reality, while other times it contains mythological elements. 

Mattheuer paints what can be seen just outside his door, which turns out to be simultaneously “world landscapes” that convey his observations about a changing environment and society. They capture the immediate landscape yet go far beyond it. They have the quality of spatially and temporally detaching themselves from their geographical origin and claiming a sense of timelessness and universality. The artist himself writes in a diary in 1984: “No one manages to make the entire world their home. But whoever understands their home as a piece of the world, can be a world citizen.” (Wolfgang Mattheuer, October 3, 1984) 

The exhibition assembles approximately 30 of the artist’s works from the Hasso Plattner Collection and from private and institutional lenders, including the Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum für moderne Kunst; the Hamburger Kunsthalle; the Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest; the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig; the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie; the Sammlung Fritz P. Mayer, Frankfurt am Main/Leipzig; and the Ursula Mattheuer-Neustädt und Wolfgang Mattheuer Stiftung.

Wolfgang Mattheuer, born in 1927 in Reichenbach in Vogtland, died 2004 in Leipzig, was a painter, graphic designer, sculptor, and writer. He described himself as a “Bildermacher” (picture maker) and is one of the co-founders of the Leipzig School. His participation in Documenta VI (1977), as well as extensive solo exhibitions and acquisitions (Hamburg Kunsthalle among others) also made Mattheuer known to a wide audience in Germany. As critical observer of his time, his works bear witness to an ever-changing environment and society.

[1] Wolfgang Mattheuer, Äusserungen: Texte, Graphik (Leipzig, 1990), p. 39.

Painting: A garden in full bloom, with a pond in which the trees are reflected. A ladder leans against a tree.



The exhibitions by WOLFGANG MATTHEUER AND STAN DOUGLAS in DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam, are devoted to the political theme of landscape—a subject that occupies a central role within the Hasso Plattner Collection, from Impressionism to the present day. With the simultaneous exhibitions of two artists from the collection, we investigate this theme through painting from the former GDR as well as photography and film, which reflect a time of upheaval in Potsdam some thirty years ago. It is about vast and confined nature, as well the city and industry in the tension between preservation and renewal. Both artists have repeatedly managed to connect the visible and the invisible, the seen and the thought, reality and fiction. Whether outside or in the studio, whether painted, photographed or filmed: it is the Schrebergarten that becomes a microcosm and a reflection of sociopolitical conditions in the exhibitions—then as now. 


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Max-Planck-Straße 17
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