Jörg Immendorff is among those German Neo-Expressionist artists who emerged in the 1980s and have made printmaking a significant part of their creative practice. After studying stage design at the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf, he switched his focus to art and became a student of Joseph Beuys, the renowned Conceptual artist and teacher. Absorbing Beuys's revolutionary teachings and attitudes about art, Immendorff became a regular participant in neo-Dada "Happenings" and "manifestations," using these actions as a means of expressing his political and artistic ideas.
The specter of World War II and its ongoing repercussions have been of primary importance in Immendorff's work. Adopting an aggressive painterly style that harks back to that of the German Expressionists in the early twentieth century, he has addressed social issues in postwar Germany. The differing economic and political systems of what was then east and west is explored in a vocabulary of recurring symbols and images that have become integral to his iconography, which includes portraits of his friends and himself, sometimes gathered together in an imagined social setting he calls Café Deutschland. In other works, he uses disparate elements to construct his forms, as in Decisive Enemy, which includes a personified tank, a recurring image in his work, with clawlike feet.
An active printmaker, Immendorff helped pioneer a new idiom for relief mediums such as woodcut and linoleum cut that had fallen out of favor as artistic mediums. Unconcerned with the concept of a uniform edition, he here exploits the expressive potential of his technique, boldly cutting the block in a purposely rough fashion and printing the impressions himself. This work was included in one of a series of three portfolios from the early 1980s that introduced the work of contemporary German painters to a broader audience through printmaking.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Sarah Suzuki, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 209.