We did not agree, we were not against it, we were simply somewhere else. Warhol was a star, everyone wanted to be like him. Germany. The1960s. It was them: the painter Christa Dichgans. The art collector Paul Maenz and the artist Maler Karl Horst Hödicke. They made art. Germany. The 1960s: It was these pictures. Colorful. Loud. Sexy. Always a little provocative. Always political. In any case: always against. The Pop Art was a typical American phenomenon. In the mid 60s it was not expected to become such a global and historically significant art form. It went hand in hand with a time and nation which shaped and deformed us more than any sort of arts before. In the 60s, the American pop art spilled over to Germany. German Pop! And this is what it looked like. The Berlin painter Christa Dichgans painted smooth figures in acrylic: frogs, ducks, inflatable rubber figures. Toys and weapons in one and the same image. Provocative. We didn’t want to do informal art but … sure what do you start with? A still life, an object. And that was my approach. Even back then I chose weapons and things like that. I always chose toys. This way you can express your aggressions … but with a certain distance, which is not possible when you have a model in your atelier. I still think that this is a good way. This is all very similar to the American comic aesthetics: Pop Art à la Andy Warhol – which Christa Dichgans never wanted to do. It was a way to relieve yourself by for example drawing a perfect duck. That immediately made me feel better. The duck as a liberation. Figuration as rebellion. Still life from the 60s daily routine: Revolutionary. Pop Art … I didn’t feel like a member of a movement. I was always a lone warrior. Lone fighter. Karl Horst Hödicke painted in the 60s pictures that no one could decipher: A storefront facade with neon lettering. As a reflection. This is the small boy who comes from the village and enters the city seeing neon … neon what is that? This color did not exist before. In all those museums you could not find neon paintings. So I thought to myself just try drawing it that was the challenge and it was not easy. Hardly anyone was interested in Hödicke’s images in the 60’s. Based in Berlin, away from world affairs he painted for himself. I worked at the post office … three days at the post office and four days of art. Still lives with tomatoes. From banal everyday objects he creates art. Such images of laconic criticism of consumerism. The working atmosphere was great. No one got on your nerves. No collector, no museum director, no one. There wasn’t even anyone who was interested in it. The only one who cared was René Block – the best gallery ever – and as long as he had his gallery I worked with him. Just imagine, he went wait tables to make a living and he had the five world’s artists. Whilst Karl Horst Hödicke was torn between post and pop in Berlin, it was bubbling in the rest of the country: art became increasingly political. Especially in Frankfurt am Main. Imagine the times in Frankfurt as very restless, students had not just to worry about their careers the Vietnam war was going on and we started seeing America as an enemy. My enthusiasm for America, which brought me to New York, came to pieces. Paul Maenz is an art collector and gallery owner. In the 1960s he launched an art shop in Frankfurt together with various artists. A germ cell of the revolt: Pudding Explosion. A weird institution at the back side of the Zeil … we had a good location but we were still offside, which was important since we did not support the establishment but no more than a disturbing trace-appearence. You can say that this was the first head shop in Germany, actually there wasn’t even such a thing the States or London. A head shop in this case is a mixture of a very pleasurable Hippie feeling and a quite aggressive political institution. Germany-wide young artists increasingly took over strong political opinions. They shot out their political punch lines beyond the museums and galleries. Thomas Bayrle built his mechanical boxes in Frankfurt and by doing so he took the German history for a ride. Fashion, Consumerism, Advertising: nothing escapes his critical hand. German pop takes shape … it becomes political, critical of consumerism, and critical of society. We constantly had the constitutional protection in front of our door. Downstairs there was a big board full of buttons, hundreds of different buttons, partly of exorbitant kind, partly of funny kind. Then the whole shop was covered in the smell of incense sticks, there was 80 light bulbs, that would flash in a certain rhythm, there was our Coka Cola vending machine, and we had tons of Mao bibles, which were delivered from Peking, more or less unasked, which were sold for a German Mark. There was glasses with a prism-cut, those were perfect for a LSD trip. We never sold drugs but you could get the accessories, most kids that would come indeed didn’t have anything to do with drugs. Back then no one knew how to spell cocaine. Smooth, chic, witty. The German Pop of the 60s significantly distinguished itself from the American Pop Art. German Pop came right from the center of life. I would say life is an inspiration wherever you are. But of course there is more or less inspirational areas. But then you can’t choose where you live or in which century you are born so the challenge really is to make the best of where you are. Bright colors, grids, repetitions, crazy montages. Fashion, advertising, world of goods: it was all integrated into German pop. Gerhard Richter Bettina von Arnim Sigmar Polke They constantly designed new worlds. Looking back, the modern thing about our attitude was that we did not know what the world should look like. We just were not content with the existing one and all the involved were constructive and could imagine many things existing next to one another so the opposite was always present. Colorful, unruly and funny. German Pop: a short German era in the 60s, in which artists put reality on the test bench. Witty and confident. Very confident. A modest artist does not exist, I would say. Thus … sure one wants to draw right paintings, good paintings.