Art Unleashed: Experiments on Film by Lutz Dammbeck

GDR/Germany, 1978, 132 min, color/b&w
In German; English subtitles


This 2-DVD set with a collection of five early short films made by German director and media artist Lutz Dammbeck introduces the formative period of an artist who remains one of Germany’s boldest and most innovative creators. The films testify to the artist’s attempts to break with prevailing trends and establish new multimedia art concepts and exhibition practices in the GDR. They also open a window onto East Germany’s experimental art scene, of which Dammbeck was a central member. Over time, Dammbeck’s efforts to unleash art from the limitations imposed on it by local officials and East German cultural policy became exhausting; he left for West Germany in 1986. This DVD was curated by Seth Howes (Univ. of Missouri). 


Metamorphoses I GDR, 1978, 7 min., color & b/w, experimental, no dialog
This mix of non-camera animation with 35mm footage was a project initially planned for the banned multimedia show Tangents I. The first experimental film to be shown publicly in the GDR. 


Homage to La Sarraz GDR, 1981, 12 min., b/w, experimental
Dammbeck experiments with over-painting and non-camera animation in relocating his Leipzig artists’ circle to La Sarraz Castle, the site of a legendary 1929 congress of European avant-garde filmmakers. 


First Leipzig Autumn Salon GDR, 1984, 22 min., b/w, doc., silent, EN Inserts
In fall 1984, 6 Leipzig artists—Lutz Dammbeck, Hans-Hendrik Grimmling, Günter Firit, Frieder Heinze, Günther Huniat, Olaf Wegewitz—organized a renegade exhibit in protest of GDR ́s official art system. The name of the exhibit was an ironic play on Herwarth Walden ́s famous Berlin exhibition in 1913. 


REALFilm GDR-Germany, 1986, 48 min., b/w, documentation of media collage
This collage, recorded in Leipzig, May 14, 1986, reflects on the medium of film. It was hailed as a unique, sensual experience in the GDR art scene. In it, Dammbeck attempts to cleanse film elements of ideology and commerce, then compose a new film from them in real time. 


The Painter Came from a Foreign Land... Germany, 1988, 43 min., color & b/w, doc. Dammbeck explores his artistic arc in the GDR and FRG by interviewing 3 other GDR artists who left for West Germany in the mid-1980s: Cornelia Schleime, Hans-Hendrik Grimmling and Hans Scheib. 


Press comments

“These films represent the artist’s attempts to break new conceptual and methodological ground in the East German cultural landscape, in particular by establishing collaborative and ‘intermedia’ exhibition concepts.”  —Seth Howes, Univ. of Missouri 


”As a filmmaker, a performance artist and an organizer, Dammbeck helped define the foundations of the experimental art scene in late East Germany. This DVD offers a selection of some of the artist's most revealing works.”   —Sara Blaylock, Univ. of Minnesota Duluth


“These early films are marvelous, exemplary evidence of the evolution of a creative personality in response to collisions and divergences.”   —Fred Gehler, film historian, Filme und Mediencollagen 1975-1986


Buy the DVD
DVD Bonus Features:

New digitally restored transfer 

Lutz Dammbeck Biography & Filmography

“Art Unleashed: Experiments on Film by Lutz Dammbeck,” by Seth Howes, Univ. of Missouri

“Written Commentary on First Leipzig Autumn Salon,” by Lutz Dammbeck

First Leipzig Autumn Salon exhibition catalog

Storyboard for the REALFilm multimedia collage, by Lutz Dammbeck

Selected Posters by Lutz Dammbeck


Shibboleth login