The front of Claridges Hotel is all decorated for Christmas. At the rear, in Brook’s Mews, construction hoardings, workers and lorries suggest building works are going on. Further down are two galleries, Maddox on the left and Ben Brown on the right. Enter Ben Brown and go down the steps and you enter almost a century of modern German art from Max Beckmann in 1924 to Albert Oehlen in 2005. German artists have suffered two world wars, state control and destruction of degenerate art and persecution, yet they have come through with some of the most innovative and expressive art of the times.
Starting the exhibition, it is fascinating to see how Max Beckmann’s work changed in 20 years from his voluptuous decadent nude of 1924 to his dark and military works of the 1940′s; reflecting the policies of the Nazis which would result in his exile to Amsterdam and emigration to the United States. The works could almost be by different artists. From there, artists such as Gerhard Richter, Heinz Mack, Albert Oehlen, Signar Polke and Gunther Forg sought to find an identity for their own work and for post-modern German art as it sought and regained its place in the post-war world.