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Spiegelungen der Zeit: Bernhard Heisig + Gudrun Brüne – CSR.ART | 17.01.-13.04.2024

Editors’ Choice

CSR.ART presents the duo exhibition “Reflections of Time: Bernhard Heisig + Gudrun Brüne” from 17 January 2024. On display will be an extensive selection of works by probably the best-known painter couple of the former GDR.

Fig. above: Gudrun Brüne, Lebensspiele, 2006, oil on hardboard, 160 x 300 cm, photo: Werner Grossmann.

To kick off the new art year, CSR.ART in Friedrichstraße is showing the exhibition “Reflections of Time” with paintings by the artist Bernhard Heisig and the artist Gudrun Brüne. On display are paintings, drawings and lithographs from various decades, which impressively illustrate the couple’s different styles and artistic positions. At the same time, the exhibition traces the Heisig/Brüne couple. The exhibition sets the mood for the year 2025, which marks the 100th anniversary of Bernhard Heisig’s birth.

Bernhard Heisig, Self, oil on canvas, 70 x 50 cm

Bernhard Heisig (1925-2011) is considered one of the most important representatives of art in the GDR and a co-founder of the Leipzig School. His painting style is characterised by an expressive, dynamic style of representation with high-contrast colours and a profound examination of social and political themes. Gudrun Brüne (1941), one of the few female representatives of the Leipzig School, created her own pictorial language with the recurring motif of masks and dolls with technical perfection and emotionally moving power. It is not only the artistic brilliance of the individual works that makes this exhibition special, but also the fact that Gudrun Brüne and Bernhard Heisig were artistic companions and life partners for over 50 years.

Events in the context of the exhibition

The exhibition will kick off with a pre-opening artist talk with Gudrun Brüne and Friederike Sehmsdorf on Sunday, 14 January 2024 at 3 pm. Afterwards, there will be an opportunity to chat over coffee and sparkling wine. There will also be an opportunity to take a first look at the exhibition, which is currently under construction.

Gudrun Brüne, Flora, 2009, mixed media on hard fibre, 100 x 80 cm

The exhibition opens with a festive vernissage on Tuesday, 16 January 2024 from 6 p.m., accompanied by a classical concert with musicians from the Brandenburg Summer Concerts (admission: EUR 10 for the musicians). Tickets are available from the Brandenburg Summer Concerts on 030 89 04 34 0, or by email to tickets@brandenburgische-sommerkonzerte.org. Seating is limited – first come, first serve. During the breaks, Stephanie Schneider, M.A., head of CSR.ART, will give an introduction to the visual worlds. The vernissage will then be open to the public from 7 pm. Admission is free from 7 pm.

Bernhard Heisig

Bernhard Heisig is one of the leading representatives of the so-called “Leipzig School”, a movement of modern painting from the 1970s to the 1980s, which originated in the 1960s from painters predominantly active in Leipzig and turned the city into a respected centre of art. Across styles and generations, the Leipzig School stands for a high artistic standard, combined with a conscious social analysis, executed with remarkable craftsmanship.

ART COMPASS - CSR.ART - Bernhard Heisig - Schutzversuche mit Musik
Bernhard Heisig, Schutzversuche mit Musik, 1997, oil on canvas, 150 x 70 cm

Together with Hans Mayer-Foreyt, Werner Tübke and Wolfgang Mattheuer, Bernhard Heisig is counted among the founders of the Leipzig School and is considered one of the most important representatives of art in the GDR. He had a decisive influence on the German art landscape. His work spans an impressive range from the post-war period to the 21st century.

I would have liked to have painted friendlier pictures” – this is the title of one of Bernhard Heisig’s later works. A title that seems like a résumé – self-confident, defiant and resigned at the same time. Bernhard Heisig, this great German painter, was a figure of the century, a contemporary witness par excellence, a moralist by experience.

Wolfgang Thierse, former President of the German Bundestag,
in his eulogy for Bernhard Heisig, 2011

Heisig attended the School of Arts and Crafts in his native city of Breslau at the age of 16 until he volunteered for the Second World War a year later. He later processed his traumatic experiences in impressive works of art. Heisig’s later life took him to East Germany and was characterised by his artistic exploration of political and personal themes, always bringing his own critical perspective to bear. Bernhard Heisig became particularly well known in what was then West Germany when the former Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt had his portrait painted by the then already renowned GDR painter and professor at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig in 1986 – a statement and a piece of anticipated reunification on canvas.

Gudrun Brüne

Gudrun Brüne is one of the few female representatives of the Leipzig School. Her painting is characterised by a clear, figurative style that revolves around the themes of love, nature, transience, destruction, dependency and manipulation with metaphorical depictions of people, dolls, masks and scenes. Gudrun Brüne was born in Berlin in 1941 and lost her father at the age of two during a submarine mission in the Second World War. She was evacuated with her mother and sister to a place near Bremen. In 1947, the family moved to Leipzig, where Gudrun Brüne grew up. At the end of the 1950s, she completed an apprenticeship as a bookbinder in Pößneck, Thuringia. From 1961 to 1966, she studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig under Heinz Wagner and Bernhard Heisig, graduating with a diploma. The formative influence of these teachers is reflected in her later work. At the same time, she succeeded in finding her own unmistakable style. From 1966 to 1977, Gudrun Brüne worked as a freelancer and occasionally in the studio of her future husband Bernhard Heisig. In 1973, she presented her first solo exhibition in Leipzig. From 1974 to 1982, Brüne was a member of the painters/graphic artists section of the Association of Visual Artists of the GDR, which further cemented her position in the art scene. From 1977, she took on the role of assistant and taught from 1979 to 1999 as a lecturer in painting and graphics and head of a specialised class at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art. In 1988, Gudrun Brüne’s paintings were shown at the Venice Biennale and ten years later at Art Cologne.

Gudrun Brüne, The crossing, 2015, mixed media on hard fibre, 100 x 80 cm

While her exhibitions were primarily limited to cities in the former GDR until the fall of the Berlin Wall, her work has also been shown in galleries and museums in West German cities and in Chicago, USA, since 1990. Her work has been honoured with awards, including the FDGB Art Prize (1974), the GDR Medal of Merit (1981) and the GDR Art Prize (1987). The themes of her works deal with timeless issues of humanity. The masks and dolls allegorically represent the great question of the presence of the human and humanity in the world.

“There is a certain fascination with the destroyed dolls. They awaken people’s feelings and thoughts in very different ways. I like that. I believe that the dolls trigger more consternation than the reality of destruction that comes into our rooms every day through television, for example. The combination of a perfect world, which the doll symbolises, and destruction sets people’s minds in motion.”

Gudrun Brüne in dialogue with K. Karlson, 1988

The Couple

The exhibition “Reflections of Time: Bernhard Heisig and Gudrun Brüne” will be one of the extremely rare opportunities to experience the works of the artist couple in one place and in juxtaposition. This creates a further level to be discovered in the exhibition: the fact that Bernhard Heisig and Gudrun Brüne were artistic companions and life partners for over 50 years. In 1961, the 20-year-old Brüne met the 36-year-old Heisig. Gudrun Brüne and Bernhard Heisig married in 1991. They initially lived in Leipzig, but in 1999 the couple moved to Strodehne in Havelland, which, according to Gudrun Brüne, was considered the Worpswede of the East at the time.

ART COMPASS - CSR.ART - Gudrun Bruene - Wir - Gegenseitig 2016
Gudrun Brüne, Wir – Gegenseitig (We – each other), 2016, mixed media on hard fibre, 100 x 120 cm

Their shared journey through life is reflected not only in their works, but also in the interweaving of their artistic creative phases. The exhibition thus also highlights the themes of interdependence and emancipation, of mutual support, as well as the search for and finding one’s own way of expressing one’s individual personality and artistic message.


Pre-Opening Artist Talk: Sunday, 14 January 2024, 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Art historian Friederike Sehmsdorf in conversation with artist Gudrun Brüne
3:00 pm Doors open with coffee and sparkling wine
from 4:00 pm artist talk
followed by an opportunity for an exchange of ideas + closing until 6.00 pm

Vernissage: Tuesday, 16 January 2024
from 6 p.m. Concert by musicians from the Brandenburg Summer Concerts (admission: EUR 10, tickets on tel. 030 89 04 34 0, or tickets@brandenburgische-sommerkonzerte.org), during the interval introduction to the pictorial worlds of Bernhard Heisig and Gudrun Brüne by Stephanie Schneider, Head of CSR.ART
from 7.00 pm public vernissage

Exhibition dates: Wednesday, 17 January until Saturday, 13 April 2024
open Tue – Sat 11:00 – 19:00


Friedrichstraße 69 (at QUARTIER 25)
10117 Berlin-Mitte

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