Neo Rauch and his discordant color world

Would you like to start your own painting journey? Check out the Painting Workshops on offerwith Berlin Drawing Room, both online and in-person.

We discussed Neo Rauch’s work in our Watercolor Workshop, even though these are primarily oil paintings, because he uses color in a unique way. The concept of a color world (refer to previous post) within a painting is simple yet elusive, and in order to better understand this concept, Neo Rauch’s work was offered as the counter-example.  A classic example of cohesive color world, using a limited palette, is found in Claude Monet. 

Claude Monet: landscape with a limited palette

Neo Rauch uses clashing color worlds in his paintings, thereby offering an example of a discordant color world. This gives the painting a collaged feeling, rather than a unified atmosphere.
A contemporary artist working with color in a wonderful and surprising way is Jason Mones. His blunt and often confrontational images of masculinity are painted in pastel hues, contradicting the subject matter. 

Jason Mones

Here is some of the basic important information about the German artist Neo Rauch, lifted from Wikipedia (where else?).
“Neo Rauch (born 18 April 1960, in LeipzigEast Germany) is a German artist whose paintings mine the intersection of his personal history with the politics of industrial alienation. His work reflects the influence of socialist realism, and owes a debt to Surrealists Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte, although Rauch hesitates to align himself with surrealism. He studied at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig, and he lives in Markkleeberg near Leipzig, Germany and works as the principal artist of the New Leipzig School.[1]The artist is represented by Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin and David Zwirner, New York.Rauch’s paintings suggest a narrative intent but, as art historian Charlotte Mullins explains, closer scrutiny immediately presents the viewer with enigmas: “Architectural elements peter out; men in uniform from throughout history intimidate men and women from other centuries; great struggles occur but their reason is never apparent; styles change at a whim.”[2]

Can you tell which colors clash with the dominant color world of the painting?  What is the artist trying to say with his odd use of color?  How does this effect our reading of the image?

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