among the ruins

The “Fantasten” at the Rosen Gallery

Heinz Trökes, Fantasten-Ausstellung im Februar 1946 - Galerie Gerd Rosen
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019; Repro: Anja Elisabeth Witte

A poster printed in red and black on a white ground. On the left a hand, on the right a devil’s mask. Above this in overlapping forms the word “Fantasists”. The word for “Exhibition” is split, with the letters leading across the hand into the mouth of the mask. Beneath this the text: “in February 1946, Gerd Rosen Gallery, Berlin W. 15, Kurfürstendamm 215”.

When Rosen’s gallery opened amid the ruins of Kurfürstendamm in the late summer of 1945, it was quite a sensation – and a shock for Berliners suffering from the trauma of the Second World War and the effects of Nazi rule. In the windows and exhibition space they were once again confronted with art which, until only recently, had been lampooned as “degenerate”. Art dealer Gerd Rosen primarily exhibited Expressionist and Surrealist works, but he did not confine his selection to a particular style. His gallery was consequently the leading avant-garde venue during the rubble years.

One group of Rosen’s artists, the “Fantasten” [“Dreamers”], attracted attention but also hostility when they displayed their works in February 1946. The programmatic title was chosen by Hannah Höch, Heinz Trökes (1913–1997), who designed the poster, Hans Uhlmann and the other artists on show. Their motifs, colours and forms bore no relation to visible reality. It was a demonstration of the artistic freedom so brutally suppressed during the Third Reich.

Heinz Trökes (1913 – 1997)
Poster for the Fantasten-exhibition at Galerie Gerd Rosen
February 1946
Offset print
31,9 x 41,5 cm
Acquired with budgetary funding from Berlinische Galerie, Berlin 1981

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