Axel Krause made headlines last year when his Leipzig dealer, Galerie Kleindienst, announced it was separating from him. Krause had posted on Facebook that he was opposed to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policies. He described the influx of migrants in Germany as “illegal mass immigration” and the Alternative for Germany party as a “welcome corrective in an ailing political landscape”. Christian Seyde, the owner of Kleindienst, said he no longer wanted to give Krause a platform. “I am not a public institution,” Seyde told local media at the time. “I do not have a mandate that requires me to present everything that exists in society.”
Krause was one of 37 artists whose work was to be included at this year’s edition of the Leipzig Annual Exhibition at the Baumwollspinnerei, scheduled to open on 6 June. On 30 May, he posted on Facebook that as a “degenerate” artist and “public nuisance” he would be represented at the 2019 exhibition with “two remarkably harmless, apolitical works”.
The following day, the managers of the Leipzig Annual Exhibition—who had come under pressure from members of the organising association to exclude Krause from the show—announced they were ejecting him. Then on 1 June, five days before the show was due to open, it was cancelled entirely due to concerns that the dispute could disrupt the opening.
The show finally opened, without Krause, on 12 June. The organisers said their decision to exclude him was based on his describing himself as “degenerate”, implicitly comparing himself to artists banned by the Nazis. “We see no reason to revise this decision,” they said.
But the debate over whether excluding Krause amounted to an attempt to suppress artistic freedom continues. Eva-Maria Stange, the culture minister in the state of Saxony and a member of the Social Democratic Party, said she thought it was wrong.
“It is not acceptable to stigmatise and socially exclude people because of their political stance,” she said in an interview with the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper. “The AfD is a democratically elected party. I can fully understand that people don’t share its views and reject it for good reason, but we live in a democracy, and that compels us to confront different positions.”
Source: The Art Newspaper