The New Fauves


Die Neuen Wilden (“The New Fauves”) is one of many contested terms in the thorny artistic landscape of 1980s Germany. It is used to refer to a group of artists—including Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger in Dusseldorf and the Mülheimer Freiheit group in Cologne—who sought to break with both the dominant Minimalist and Conceptualist tendencies of 1970s art, as well as the German art world’s “established figures,” such as Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Sigmar Polke, and Gerhard Richter. While Oehlen, Kippenberger, and the Freiheit group had widely varied concerns and approaches, these artists are often noted for their relationship to the New Wave and punk scenes, along with their brash attitudes that attacked bourgeois values and the decade’s perceived political apathy. Importantly, the prevalence of figuration and gestural brushwork has led many to label these works Neo-Expressionist in style. While Die Neuen Wilden is most closely associated with the neighboring cities of Dusseldorf and Cologne, the term has also been applied to artists throughout Germany and Austria.