German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse
27 Mar - 11 Jul 2011
March 27, 2011–July 11, 2011. IN2154.27. Photograph by Jonathan Muzikar.
The exhibition takes a broad view of Expressionism, highlighting a diverse array of individuals—from Oskar Kokoschka and Vasily Kandinsky to Erich Heckel and Emil Nolde—who nonetheless shared visual and thematic concerns. Their works reflect a period of intense social and aesthetic transformation, and several themes of continuing resonance emerge. These include a focus on urban experience, an uncompromising approach to the body and sexuality, and an abiding preoccupation with nature, religion, and spirituality. Most pivotal for these years, however, was the experience of World War I. The war and its aftermath are the subject of works by a range of artists, including Otto Dix, whose series of fifty searing etchings, The War, was based on his own service in the trenches; Käthe Kollwitz, in a portfolio of seven woodcuts focusing on the devastation felt by the families left behind; and Max Beckmann, whose lithographic series, Hell (1919), confronts the violence and decadence in Berlin during the immediate postwar period.
In addition to a publication and a major website on German Expressionism, the exhibition will mark the culmination of a major four-year grant from The Annenberg Foundation to digitize, catalogue, and conserve all of the approximately three thousand Expressionist works on paper in the Museum’s collection.