The exhibition is held in honor of Susan and Martin Sanders' generous gift to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
, which includes important works by some of the prominent Neo-Expressionists active in Berlin in the 1970s and 1980s: Karl Horst Hödicke, Rainer Fetting, Salomé, Helmut Middendorf and Peter Chevalier. Their works represent interesting aspects of the worldwide "back to painting" trend that swept through western Europe and the USA at the timefigurative and expressive art, full of myths, symbols and narrative, that developed as a backlash to 1960s and 1970s minimal and conceptual art. Minimalism's esthetics of reduction and the centrality of the theoretical-consceptual aspect in conceptual art eventually excluded the medium of painting from the language and discourse of art and precluded expressive utterances. Faced with the programmatic formalism of this rationalistic art, the Neo-Expressionists felt compelled to react to their immediate physical environment and express their feelings and anxieties. They created spontaneous, personal painting guided by a sense of subjective urgency and a determination to re-establish painting in a challenging way that combines past values with new concepts.
The passion for experiential-personal expression through expressive painting was intensified in Berlin of the 1980s. The Neo-Expressionist artists reacted to their complex personal and geo-political reality in West Berlin, in the shadow of the Cold War, through tactile, sensuous painting that offered a lively esthetic approach that did not spurn the excessiveness rejected in the preceding decades. Their paintings assimilated the bold color and formal elements of early 20th-century German Expressionism and of American Abstract Expressionism. The works are characterized by large formats, intense color, narrative, direct exposure of the self, provocativeness and seductiveness.