Art from the GDR: Brand Ambassador of Socialism at First, then Suddenly a Wreckage of History… East German Art Exhibitions in the USA between 1989 and 1991.
Today, the visual arts play an important role in the presentation of companies (advertising), municipalities (location marketing), and nations (nation branding). Since its foundation, the GDR tried to improve its international reputation with the help of visual arts. Nevertheless, it was not until its recognition by the Western countries that the cultural exchange with the USA, Great Britain, and other Western European countries could develop without obstacles. At the same time, the dogma of Socialist Realism dissolved during the 1970s and a wider stylistic range in art was tolerated in the GDR. In the 1980s, it became possible for art from the GDR to be shown even in representative museums in Great Britain, France, and the USA. However, it was in the most successful period of its foreign cultural policy that the GDR collapsed. Its art and artists were touring abroad still in the fall and winter of 1989/90, and they were left behind like wreck- age and shipwreck victims of history: suddenly, they now were on their own; the state and the system they were supposed to represent did no longer exist. The article examines three trave- ling exhibitions of East German art that toured the United States between 1989 and 1991 and focuses on the then completely changed working conditions of East German artists.