black and white image of fighter airplanes with pointed noses, with cross emblems on sides and wings, in a row; seven curved lines of silver glitter roughly follow the top edges of some planes

© Wolf Vostell

Starfighter I, from "Grafik des Kapitalistischen Realismus (Graphics of Capitalist Realism)" portfolio, 1967 (published 1968)

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Wolf Vostell screenprint Starfighter I is one of six prints produced by six artists comprising the widely acclaimed portfolio "Grafik des Kapitalistischen Realismus" ("Graphics of Capitalist Realism"). Published in Berlin in 1968, this portfolio of graphic art also featured the work of the German artists Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Konrad Lueg, K.H. Hodicke, and K.P. Brehmer, who were the founders and chief proponents of the Capitalist Realism movement. It remains the definitive graphic statement of this politically-inspired artist group. The subject of Vostell’s screenprint is the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, a supersonic fighter jet aircraft that saw service in the U.S. Air Force between 1958 and 1975. The fighter was marketed around the world, and became part of West Germany’s controversial plan for rearmament during the Cold War to help counter the military power of the Soviet Union and its communist allies in Eastern Europe. Notorious for its frequent crashes, the Starfighter was nicknamed “the widow maker” and was emblematic of West German corruption after it was disclosed that Lockheed had paid bribes to various government officials during sales negotiations. Political artists such as Vostell subsequently used the image of the Starfighter as a symbol of militaristic and market-driven values. For his screenprint, Vostell appropriated a grainy still image from a televised broadcast that shows a seemingly infinite row of Starfighter jets precisely aligned along a runway. He “decorates” the row of fighters with silver glitter to both de-mystify and satirize Germany’s long history of military prowess and tradition. In so doing, he critiques the corrupt West German government and its Cold War policies of “defensive rearmament” and Western political alignment (NATO). Despite its critical stance, the shimmering image of modern jet fighters possesses a compelling visual power, or even disquieting beauty, that actually softens Vostell’s intended message.

Details
Title
Starfighter I, from "Grafik des Kapitalistischen Realismus (Graphics of Capitalist Realism)" portfolio
Artist Life
1932 - 1988
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2012.52
Provenance
[Jorg Maass Kunsthandel, Berlin, Germany; sold to MIA]
Catalogue Raisonne
Vomm 1967: 7 I
Curator Approved

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black and white image of fighter airplanes with pointed noses, with cross emblems on sides and wings, in a row; seven curved lines of silver glitter roughly follow the top edges of some planes

© Wolf Vostell

Because of © restrictions, we can only show you a small image of this artwork.