Fallen Figure (Fallen Fighter), 1971

The victor stands, the loser grovels on the ground. And still the victor keeps on kicking him – crudely, mercilessly, pointlessly and superfluously. At the same time, they resemble one another like brothers: their muscles, sinews and flesh seem to be open all over their bodies, as if they had just torn each other’s skin off. The figures’ poses were inspired by antique sculptures. In that way, the painter targeted the archetypical as well as fundamental questions of power and violence.

Golub’s art developed in critical opposition to the abstract and conceptual art currents of the 1950s. Acting on political-ethical impulse, he remained loyal to figural painting. Nevertheless, abstract elements play a decisive role in his paintings. The figures are two-dimensional, the backgrounds often monochrome, the brushstroke is immediate, informal even. His paintings oscillate between visual fascination and horror. Golub deliberately did not mount his “Fallen Fighter” on a stretcher; the canvas hangs down in limp undulations like a skin – the skin the bloody bodies seem to have lost.

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018


Acrylic on linen
305 × 274.5 cm
Inv. no. 1111
Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.

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