Jörg Immendorff

We’re Coming


Not on display

Jörg Immendorff 1945–2007
Original title
Wir kommen
Linocut on paper
Image: 1803 × 2294 mm
Purchased 1984

Catalogue entry

Jörg Immendorff born 1945

P77012 We're Coming, from 'Café Deutschland' 1983

Linocut 1803 x 2294 (71 x 90 1/4) on paper, same size; printed by the artist and assistants and published by Maximilian Verlag Sabine Knust, Munich in an edition of 10
Inscribed 'Immendorff 1982' b.r. and '6/2' b.l.
Purchased from Galerie Sabine Knust (Grant-in-Aid) 1984
Lit: Jörg Immendorff Café Deutschland Gut: Linolschnitte 82/83, Munich 1983 (2, repr. in col., as 'Wir kommen'); Elizabeth Underhill, New Prints and Drawings, exh.cat., Tate Gallery 1984, (repr. as 'We're Here')

The 'Café Deutschland' theme emerged in Immendorff's work in 1978. The previous year as the Biennale in Venice, he had seen Guttuso's 'Café Greco' 1976 (Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen, repr. Guttuso: Opere dal 193 1-1981, exh.cat., Centro di Cultura di Palazzo Grassi, Venice 1982, p.87 in col.) and the first and subsequent works were intended as a reply to Guttuso's painting. 'Café Deutschland' became for the artist an allegorical interior setting, where he assessed the condition of present day Germany and his own position within it. Various visual motifs recur, notably the German double-headed eagle and the Brandenburg Gate, now part of East Berlin. These were set within the recognisable features of the 'Revolution', a pub in the Altstadt of Düsseldorf, which provided the initial inspiration for the interior. Features such as the canopied roof, mirrors and columns recur in a variety of guises, as a setting for the painter's observations on modern Germany.

Immendorff began his series with an acrylic painting on board entitled 'Hallo Guttuso' 1978 (repr., Jörg Immendorff: 'Café Deutschland', exh.cat., Kunstmuseum, Basle 1979, p.1). The theme was developed in many variations in diverse media, including oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints. The nineteen paintings which comprise the central body of the series were begun in 1978 and completed in early 1982.

'Café Deutschland XII /Adlerhälfte' ('Café Germany XII /Eagle Half') is the work upon which P77012 is based. According to the artist, in a letter to the compiler dated 5 May 1988, the words 'Wir kommen means coming and going, means a permanent examination of the questions of good and bad in a political as well as a personal sense'. Ulrich Krempel writes of 'Café Deutschland XII /Adlerhälfte' (bearing in mind that all positions are reversed in the case of the print):

'Café Deutschland III' and 'Café Deutschland XII' refer back to the pictorial space already formulated in 'Café Deutschland I'. The artist is at the table in the foreground (CD XII), behind the logo of the Sino-German Friendship Society: he eats his way through his newspaper, while around him a new situation develops. To the left rises the column of the Quadriga, to the right is a half eagle entangled with a paintbrush - references to the emblematic totem and the reality of the situation at the same time. (Quadriga, the four-in-hand chariot atop the Brandenburg Gate contrasted with the symbol of power, the eagle, subdued by the artist.) The dancers on the small space are jostled by other protagonists. As the top of a ladder, a mirror is being hung or removed (with an image of the Kremlin on it) ... Behind the pillar is an old man [wearing a Pickelhauber, Hindenburg] with the Brandenburg Gate and at the bar to the left a figure with his back turned to us (Penck?) [the artist A.R. Penck, who began his career in East Germany, before moving to the West] hands the half eagle to a relaxed, standing Immendorff. The circular, illuminated disc [upper left] is transformed into a press, here functioning as a 'System press', as between the two discs a compass is wedged [such as the one in the middle of the flag of the German Democratic Republic] (Ulrich Krempel, 'Die Wirklichkeit der Bilder' in Jörg Immendorff: Café Deutschland Adlerhälfte, exh.cat., Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf 1982, pp.45-6; the painting is reproduced in colour on p.45).

The swastika symbol, disintegrating as the upper centre of the image is made more explicit in meaning by the addition of a portrait of Adolf Hitler in profile, right beside it. However, portraits of Marx and Engels, seated in the upper gallery on the left in Café Deutschland XII Adlerhälfte, have been excised from P77012. Instead, in P77012, the two portraits are replaced by the hammer and sickle, symbol of the Soviet state. A portrait in the upper righthand corner is of Mao Tse Tung (1893-1976), Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from 1949 until his death.

In her note on the print, Elizabeth Underhill writes that ten numbered states of this linocut exist, all with different titles:

As each state was printed, the block was cut to add further imagery (thus each one is different) and different colours were used for each edition of ten. For printing the block was laid on the floor of Immendorff's studio. Paper with a wash of gouache ground colour already applied was laid over it and printed by using a roller over the back of the sheet. Different elements in the composition are emphasised by being separately inked in different colours but the whole block was printed only once for each print. The ink used was in fact thick gouache paint. There was a subsequent series made by placing smaller sheets over sections of the block, printing and then adding words or altering the image in paint (Underhill 1984, [p.3]).

All ten states are illustrated in colour in Jörg Immendorff Café Deutschland Gut: Lincolschnitte 82/83 1983. Preparatory sketches for states five and eight are also illustrated (ibid. [p.30-35]); P77012 is the second of the ten states. Each state has one basic colour (except the tenth state, which has two) over which details are overprinted in different colours. The details picked out, in all ten states, are the disc-like canopy and the tethered eagle to the left, the symbol of Sino-German friendship and the mirrored pillar in the centre and the tumbling horse and crowd in the gallery to the right of the image. The basic colour in P77012 is an orange-brown and the details are picked out in blue, red and orange. A further series of prints, made from sections of the 'Café Deutschland' plate and overpainted is illustrated in Sammler: Jörg Immendorff Übermalte Linoldrucke 1983-84, Munich 1984.

P77012 was listed in Tate Gallery Report 1984-6, 1986 as 'We're Here'. The artist has approved this entry.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.389-90

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