Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction


Neo Rauch
B. 1960
signed and dated 95
oil on paper laid down on canvas mounted on board, in artist's frame
130.8 by 253.7 cm. 51 1/2 by 99 7/8 in.
Lire le rapport d'état Lire le rapport d'état


David Zwirner, New York
Acquired from the above by David Teiger in 2002


Harald Szeeman, Daniel Birnbaum and Lynne Cooke, Eds., Neo Rauch, Ostfildern 2002, n.p.
Exh. Cat., Maastricht, Bonnefantenmusem, The Vincent Van Gogh Bi-Annual Award for Contemporary Art in Europe, 2002, p. 53, illustrated
Exh. Cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Drawings Now: Eight Propositions, 2002, n.p., no. 46, illustrated in colour


Schule offers a supreme and early example of Neo Rauch’s spectacular articulation of the realm between memory and dream. Executed in 1995, the present work leaves the viewer at once puzzled and captivated, Rauch’s highly unique pictorial expression embodied by enigmatic narrative details and Surrealist compositional elements. The 1990s was an exceptionally productive and experimental decade for the artist, during which he formulated his archetypal amalgamation of Socialist Realism, German Romanticism and Surrealism. Through this combination, the artist’s intrinsic questions about identity and history emerge, situating his artistic production at the profound intersection between personal and national history.

In the present work an army of students stand uniformly with their backs to the viewer, placed in a curiously evocative schoolroom scene. Eerie abstract forms mutate into chairs, desks, blackboards and windows, all in Rauch’s characteristic saturated, industrial colours of ochre, red, black and grey. Perhaps most striking, the ceiling of this uncanny schoolroom is absent, and instead a violent yellow and grey sky emerges, foretelling of doom, despair and darkness. Thus the schoolroom of Schule becomes a formidable dreamscape—or rather a nightmare—in which all coherent sense of certainty and knowing is lost. Rauch’s employment of strange, mysterious figures and ambiguous landscapes recall the celebrated work of Surrealist masters such as Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, for their metaphysical paintings of fragile and exotic landscapes greatly influenced Rauch’s highly iconoclastic and symbolic pictorial approach, imbuing his retro-futuristic fantasies with poignant art historical reference. While Rauch is widely celebrated as a leading artist of the New Leipzig School, his work eclipses the intellectual sphere of his native country; he is undeniably one of the most important artists of his generation. Schule powerfully illustrates Rauch’s exceptional dreamlike, hallucinatory visual language and unbounded imagination. Art historian Gottfried Boehm asserts, “Rauch’s paintings show us many rudiments, many fragments and figurations of possible worlds…Rauch’s custom of working with the memory of a pictorial story…also awakes our pleasure in getting wise to him and letting ourselves becomes totally involved in the allusions they ignite” (Gottfried Boehm cited in: Exh. Cat., Wolfsburg, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Neo Rauch – Neue Rollen. Paintings 1993-2006, 2006, p. 39).

Contemporary Art Day Auction