Did you know “black is a property, not a quality”?

Neither did I, but as I looked at the artist Richard Serra’s all-black print — nothing more, nothing less — I wondered if his ponderous theory on color was just cover for a man who can’t draw.

As other visitors gazed in solemn appreciation, I figured it was all over my head.

There is a big new exhibit at the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany, showcasing some of the great American artists of the 20th century and their experimentations with printing techniques. Luckily, “The Great Graphic Boom” isn’t all weighty. There are lots of cultural touchstones that even non-aficionado brutes can appreciate.

Located in the heart of downtown Stuttgart, the Staatsgalerie should be one of those must-do checklist destinations for servicemembers stationed in the area. The permanent exhibit has all kinds of interesting works by household names like Matisse and Picasso and many prominent German artists, such as Otto Dix.

The museum also holds regular special exhibits, one of which is the current one, which focuses on American prints from 1960 to 1990. There are about 170 on display, and the styles are wide-ranging.

As you walk into the exhibition you are introduced to some of the best-known prints of that era, including Roy Lichtenstein’s “Crying Girl” and Andy Warhol’s “Liz,” a portrait of Elizabeth Taylor. There are several Warhols showcased that are instantly familiar. Portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy and Campbell’s Soup cans are ingrained in the popular imagination, yet they’re somehow new when seen firsthand.

As you meander through the rooms, the works get more obscure. Viewing some of the art seems like the dutiful equivalent of eating one’s spinach. Splotches of color on paper might seem like the spasms of a toddler, but apparently these things are important if your name is Sam Francis or Jackson Pollock.

So if there is a time to take in some art in Stuttgart, it could be now. Twitter: @john_vandiver



The Staatsgalerie is located at Konrad-Adenauer Strasse 30-31 in the heart of downtown Stuttgart. There is parking under the museum, which has its own U-Bahn stop.


10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays and Fridays-Sundays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays. Closed Mondays.


Entry to the current exhibition is 11.50 euros ($13). It’s best to go on Wednesdays, when entrance into the Staatsgalerie’s permanent exhibit is free.


There is a cafeteria on site and restaurants in the general area.


Phone (+49) (0) 711-47040, website:

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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