Georg Baselitz
At LACMA, East and West Germany reunited anew

Art history is a messy business. And the urge to clean it up is irresistible, especially in the period of the Cold War in Germany.No surprise, then, that the most common shorthand for art produced in the divided nation goes something like this: East German artists made retrograde figurative work in the service of a repressive government; West Germans produced progressive abstractions under the freedom of democracy."That's the binary that has governed so much of the discussion," says Stephanie Barron, senior curator of modern art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "The other familiar trope is that everything from Germany is Expressionism -- the notion that the loaded brush, the...