The subject of this exhibition is the simultaneous decision of Charlotte Posenenske (1930-1985) and Peter Roehr (1944-1968) to end their artistic work in 1968. Posenenske lived in Wiesbaden, Roehr in the neighboring Frankfurt. Both had a lively exchange of ideas and—despite the obvious differences of their artistic concepts—shared a fundamentally rational conception of art.
Being friends with both artists, I was fortunate to be involved in their reflections on art and life, politics and society. For both, Posenenske and Roehr, there existed an inescapable connection between serious artistic work and socio-political reality; naturally this fundamental attitude found further nourishment and argumentation in the virulent, politically heated and changing climate of those years. In the end, however, neither Posenenske nor the fifteen years younger Roehr regarded art—their own practices and other contemporary positions included––not being a suitable instrument for tackling the problems of socio-political reality.
Convinced that art is "a commodity of temporary relevance“, and lacking systemic impact, Charlotte Posenenske gave up her artistic work entirely in 1968 in order to study sociology and work as a social scientist—a radical and at the time seemingly reasonable step. (However, considering the fact that she did not destroy her works but kept them, also retained a certain hopefulness––a blessing for culture and the real world, which may still be as far from perfect as ever; albeit that much of what was politically demanded in 1968 has since then been fulfilled.)
Peter Roehr, whose artistic development I was, thanks to our close friendship, able to follow closely, was only allowed the comparatively short period of five years, from 1962 until 1967. In these highly intense and productive years nearly 600 works were created: his so-called "montages" of objects, photos, films, sound etc., along with numerous theoretical notes or ideas for future projects. All this together formed Peter Roehr’s artistic body of work, or rather his estate, when he passed away in the autumn of 1968, having previously fallen ill with an incurable disease of the lymphatic system.
While Charlotte Posenenske saw her perspective in the field of social science, it was impossible for Peter Roehr to plan into the future due to his illness. His (and being his friend also my) unexpected answer to this rather fatal situation came spontaneously: Pudding Explosion—a project conceived in 1967 precisely for this socially exciting "moment in time“. Being just as playful as well as politically subversive, this „headship"started in January 1968––the first of its kind. It was charged and sparkled with a zest for life, featured LSD glasses, Mao Bibles, Che Guevara or Albert Einstein posters or "Anti-Nazi Spray" amidst flickering light and music-infused underground literature. In short, everything that countered the "establishment’s" tranquility and peace. The professionally painted façade of the shop as well as the interior design came from our common friend Charlotte…
Fifty years have passed since 1968—the time in which the actual and astonishing history of the reception of the oeuvres of Posenenske and Roehr impressively unfolded. Transcending their own lifetimes, their unique artistic achievements became apparent really only posthumously. Needless to say that every reception history interacts with the respective estate's administration. In the case of Charlotte Posenenske her artistic concept found its congenial and successful realisation through her life partner Burkhard Brunn. The "authorized reconstructions", which he initiated dynamically, yet in careful concordance with Posenenske's artistic concept, have made her work internationally known. Posenenske's works have become an integral part of programming major exhibitions in Europe and the US (for 2019 New York’s Dia Art Foundation is preparing an extensive retrospective of her entire work). Regarding the posthumous reception of the art of Peter Roehr, who had appointed me as his estate administrator prior to his death, things went most successfully too. His works have been published and distributed around the world and can now be found in numerous private and museum collections of contemporary. The artist's extensive––and meanwhile also digitally accessible––archive is housed at the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt.