JÜRGEN WITTDORF

JÜRGEN WITTDORF : Lieblinge
Works from 1952 - 2003

Works from Sammlung Linkersdorff and the collection of the Gay Museum Berlin, curated by Stephan Koal.

KVOST is showing more than 100 works from the estate of painter and graphic artist Jürgen Wittdorf (1932–2018). In his Berlin apartment Wittdorf has left behind several works of art – his personal favourites („Lieblinge“). Among them are woodcuts, linocuts, drawings in red chalk, charcoal and ink as well as ceramics. The exhibition at KVOST is complimented by images from his most noted series: woodcuts from Zyklus für die Jugend (“Cycle for the Youth”).

Wittdorf’s works show diverse daily scenes, still lifes, landscapes and animals. But it was his representation of young people as seekers filled with desire and longing, not idealized as workers and peasants, that resulted in his breakthrough as an artist in the GDR. While the young generation enthusiastically celebrated these images, the political authorities frowned upon Wittdorf’s work as an example of “westernization”.

Wittdorf used his artistic expression to come to terms with his own homosexuality, a punishable offence in the GDR until 1968. Over decades he created numerous images of male bodies, either nude or in states of undress. Seen from today’s perspective, they generate obvious references to the iconic works of artist like David Hockney or Tom of Finland.

Wittdorf left no specifications behind, regarding the distribution of his estate. After his death, a public auction was held during which collector Jan Linkersdorff was able to salvage a majority of the works, allowing for their coherent conservation.

At KVOST the works are shown in a “Petersburg Hanging”, mainly in their original frames – the way they were displayed at Wittdorf’s apartment.

The exhibition is complemented by loans from the collection of Schwules Museum, Berlin.

DISTANZ Verlag is publishing a catalogue accompanying the exhibition.

Jürgen Wittdorf was born in Karlsruhe and went to school in Königsberg (today: Kaliningrad). From 1952 to 1957 he studied at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig. After some years as a freelance artist in Leipzig, Wittdorf moved to East-Berlin in 1970. From 1967 to 1970 he was a master student of Lea Grundig at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. Next to his freelance work as a painter and graphic artist Wittdorf was a drawing teacher for many years. His work is present in several collections in East German museums. The graphic portfolio Zyklus für die Jugend is part of the collection of Deutsches Historisches Museum amongst others.