Logo – The Desire for Freedom. Art in Europe since 1945
DHM Schriftzug
Poster – The Desire for Freedom. Art in Europe since 1945

30th Council of Europe Art Exhibition
The Desire for Freedom. Art in Europe since 1945


An exhibition of the German Historical Museum
17 October 2012 to 10 February 2013, Deutsches Historisches Museum
15 March to 2 June 2013, Palazzo Reale, Milan
28 June to 3 Novemver 2013, Eesti Kunstimuuseum – Kumu Kunstimuuseum, Tallinn
18 October 2013 bis 26 January 2014, Muzeum Sztuki Wspólczesnej MOCAK, Krakau

Curators: Monika Flacke, Henry Meyric Hughes, Ulrike Schmiegelt


How do we wish to live? What should we orientate ourselves by? What roles should do politics, the state and society play, in helping us to live out our lives, as worthy human beings? Does our desire for a socially and ecologically secure future count as a basic human right?


The exhibition shows work by 113 artists from 28 countries in Europe, who have been concerned with the theme of freedom since 1945. Transcending all the inherited boundaries and divisions, it shows something of the enormous range of approaches to this question and of the variety of possible answers. Instead of attempting once more to examine the confrontation between the two power blocs in the Cold War, with their familiar ideological and political divisions, it seeks to trace their common roots in democracy and socialism, as offsprings of the Enlightenment. Both systems set themselves the challenge of realising the core values of the Enlightenment – Freedom, Equality and Human Rights.  But how were these to be understood?


In a cycle of 12 different sections, or 'chapters', the exhibition examines themes such as Reason, Utopia, Consumerism, Force, Sustainability and Self-Knowledge, which, in turn generates a number of fundamental questions about how we live in society. Artists such as Ian Hamilton Finlay, Fernand Léger, Damien Hirst, Armando, Tadeusz Kantor, Richard Hamilton, Boris Mikhailov, Oskar Rabin, Niki de Saint Phalle, Gerhard Richter, Aurora Reinhard, Christo, Arman, Mario Merz, Jordi Colomer, Raul Meel, Maria Lassnig, Eric Bulatov and Carlfriedrich Claus, provoke us to think about the way in which we lead our own lives.