LEIPZIG, Germany — Last spring, the German newspaper Die Zeit received a surprising piece of reader mail, from Neo Rauch, one of the country’s best-known artists. It wasn’t a letter, but a photograph of a large painting he had produced in response to a recent article.
The article, by the art historian Wolfgang Ullrich, argued that Mr. Rauch was contributing to a rightward tilt in the country’s art scene, and pointed to public statements Mr. Rauch had made criticizing political correctness and railing against activists’ “Talibanization” of daily life.
These positions are also reflected in his art, Mr. Ullrich wrote, adding that the surreal worlds the artist creates are refuges from “a contemporary society he hates” and from an art world that is increasingly fascinated with social justice, postmodernism and postcolonialism.
Mr. Rauch’s painting in response showed a man whom many presumed to be Mr. Ullrich defecating into a chamber pot and painting with excrement. The figure the man paints has its arm outstretched in an apparent Hitler salute, and the painting is called, “Der Anbräuner,” a term once used to designate a person who maliciously accuses someone of being a Nazi.
an exhibition of new work by Mr. Rauch at Eigen + Art, the Leipzig gallery that represents him, and the publication last month of a book by Mr. Ullrich about the dispute.