Revolutionary Romances — PROLOGUE

Transcultural Art Histories in the GDR

The exhibition and research project Revolutionary Romances. Transcultural Art Histories in the GDR focuses on the cultural relationships between the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the socialist-oriented countries and independence movements of the Global South in Asia, Africa, and Latin America in the period 1949-1990. It is the starting point of the institution-wide project Kontrapunkte. The prologue show introduces different topics of the research through collection works and interventions by contemporary artists, and acts as background for an international conference that explores the international(ist) relations of the GDR further. A large exhibition presenting the outcome of the project will take place at the Albertinum in fall 2023.

  • DATES 13/04/2022—04/09/2022

Im Zentrum der Recherche

The starting point for the research is the rich collection of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. The prologue exhibition, which was created in collaboration with the Kupferstich-Kabinett and the Kunstfonds, presents a selection of paintings, graphics, textile works and films by artists from the GDR, Cuba, Chile, and Vietnam. These include programmatic propaganda graphics, travel images, portraits of students from abroad, works by artists who emigrated to the GDR, and Cuban political posters. The interventions by contemporary artists Ângela Ferreira, Emeka Ogboh, Laura Horelli, and Sung Tieu are integrated into the collection presentation of the Albertinum, critically question the former ideals of the "Revolutionary Romances" and illuminate their historical and artistic significance from the perspective of the present.

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022 Foto: SKD, Herbert Boswank
Lea Grundig, Blatt 1 aus der Folge "Zum Komunistischen Manifest", 1968 Tusche, Pinsel in Wasserfarben, 80 x 65 cm Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden


On our digital channel 'voices'

Kontrapunkte (Counterpoints): GDR — Vietnam

The series that Arlette Quỳnh-Anh Trần curated is a collage of many stories and destinies of the Vietnamese people through variegated spaces and times, from the adhere socialist ideologist era to neo-liberal cities that are both intertwined and challenged with traditional customs and beliefs from the pre-industrial period. In such milieus, East Germany (GDR) appears at times boldly, at times subtly, or sometimes as a distantly correlated premise for social comparison and reference. What connects these two countries are perhaps the remnants of a displaced ideology.

To the website voices

[Translate to English:] VÀO ĐỜI / WE COME INTO LIFE (SIU PHAM, 2021)
Conference 13.10.2022

Revolutionary Romances: Into the Cold – Alternative Artistic Trajectories into (Post-)Communist Europe

This one-day conference at the Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (with streaming online) brings together international scholars to present and debate revisionist accounts of Cold War artistic exchange. With the aim of disrupting the East-to-West “defection” narrative of the post-war art worlds and revealing a more porous Iron Curtain, participants will explore the reasons why artists operating in Western contexts chose to enter the Communist space, and the unexpected outcomes of these subversive journeys.

To the conference

© SKD, Foto: Martin Förster
Albertinum, June 9–11, 2022

Conference "The Global GDR. A Transcultural History of Art (1949–1990)"

From June 9–11, 2022, the Albertinum will host the conference The Global GDR. A Transcultural History of Art (1949–1990), organized by the TU Dresden in cooperation with the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. At this conference, international scholars will discuss the cultural-political framework of cultural exchange in the GDR, present examples of socialist art production from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, report on foreign architectural projects of the GDR, as well as transnational groups of artists, and illustrate the transnational networks between the GDR and socialist-oriented countries of the Global South using the example of fairs, exhibitions, and collections.

Program (PDF)

Website TU Dresden

© SKD, Foto: Martin Förster

Die Erkenntnisse der Tagung

The findings of the conference, deep collection research, as well as the feedback from visitors of this prologue exhibition will be incorporated into the conception of the large 2023 exhibition on the topic of "Revolutionary Romances."

The research and exhibition project "Revolutionary Romances. Transcultural Art Histories in the GDR" is curated by Kathleen Reinhardt and Mathias Wagner.



With the project Kontrapunkte (Counterpoints), funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden are once again dedicating programming to the era of the GDR in 2022 and 2023. Based on their own holdings and collection history and their ongoing dialogue with the public, new perspectives on art in the GDR, its perception and significance in the past and present are developed.

To the project 'Kontrapunkte'


publications accompanying the exhibition


Here you can download the exhibition booklet.

Information for journalists


High-resolution press images and further information can be found in our newsroom.

Ausstellungsansicht "Revolutionary Romances"
© SKD, Foto: Klemens Renner


Revolutionary Romances is made possible by the main sponsor, the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, with the kind support of the Ludwig Foundation, and the Augstein Foundation. The conference “The Global GDR. A Transcultural History of Art (1949-1990)” is organized by the TU Dresden with the kind support of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

Sponsored by


Partner und Sponsoren

Schriftzug der Peter und Irene Ludwig Stiftung


Further Exhibitions
14/04/2022 —31/07/2022
[Translate to English:]


in Residenzschloss

Portrait eines Mannes mit Hut und Vollbart
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