Dürer's Heirs

(Dürers Erben)

Germany, 1996, 59 min, color/b&w
In German; English subtitles
Music (Score)
Themes & Genres:


After the Wall came down in 1989, what happened to major Leipzig School painters Werner Tübke and Bernhard Heisig… who had been called “Dürer’s red heirs” by West German journalists in the 1970s? This documentary paints an insightful, often critical picture of early East German art history.


A 1961 painting by Harry Blume starts the exploration. Beside the painter himself, artists Werner Tübke, Bernhard Heisig, Heinrich Witz and Hans Mayer-Foreyt are depicted. All five are members of the first post-WWII generation to study art at the Leipzig Academy for Graphic and Book Design, after it reopened in 1947, and some go on to become professors at the academy themselves. Director Lutz Dammbeck, himself an alumnus, presents and explains the origins of the new style of German realism associated with the so-called Leipzig School that, crucially, evolved during the height of Socialist Realism in East Germany, before the Wall was built in 1961. In this film, Dammbeck talks with Tübke, Heisig and former GDR cultural officials about modernism, artistic conformism, political pressure, party discipline, personal claims and fading memory.



1996 Berlin International Film Festival, Germany


Press comments

“A search for the autonomy of art in the 20th century.”  —taz.de


“Dammbeck—himself a victim of the restrictive cultural policies of the SED regime—uses the film to come to terms with his own biography and with the GDR.”  —blackmagazin.com

“The film is Dammbeck’s final reckoning with the GDR.”  —Matthias Flügge, The Hercules Concept



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