First Leipzig Autumn Salon

(1. Leipziger Herbstsalon)

GDR/Germany, 1984, 22 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Themes & Genres:


In fall 1984, six young Leipzig artists—Lutz Dammbeck, Hans-Hendrik Grimmling, Günter Firit, Frieder Heinze, Günther Huniat—secretly organized the sensational exhibition they called 1. Leipziger Herbstsalon (First Leipzig Autumn Salon) as a protest against official art exhibitions and failed reforms in the East German art system. The private exhibition lasted almost a month and challenged the authority of cultural officials. This short film shows original footage, shot by cinematographer Thomas Plenert, of the artists setting up the exhibition the day before its opening. The name of the exhibit was an ironic play on Herwarth Walden’s famous 1913 exhibition, Erster Deutsche Herbstsalon (First German Autumn Salon) in Berlin.


2018 Leipzig International Festival for Documentary and Animation Film, Germany
2018 Culture in the Cold War: East German Art, Music and Film retrospective, Amherst, USA


Press comments

“An unprecedented and daring attempt at a self-initiated exhibition.”   —Seth Howes, “Art Unleashed: Experiments on Film by Lutz Dammbeck”


“The reclaiming of public space through art challenged the government’s monopoly on power and triggered similar activities by other artists in GDR art centers. A brave signal to the SED Party, who saw this exhibition as a counter-revolutionary development.”   —Leipzig International Festival for Documentary and Animation Film



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