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November 8, 2020–February 28, 2021

Main Exhibition Galleries, East Building

 

Storm of Progress

German Art after 1800 from the Saint Louis Art Museum

The Saint Louis Art Museum is home to a renowned collection of German art established through a series of transformative gifts and purchases. Assembled from this collection, Storm of Progress spans the years 1800 to the early 2000s, over two centuries when German art, politics, and history were inextricably linked.

No one expressed this interconnection more clearly than the German Jewish cultural theorist Walter Benjamin (1892–1940), who inspired the exhibition title. Benjamin imagined history as a powerful storm—a storm of progress—whose winds propel humanity into an uncertain future. His concept captures both the devastation and hope seen in German art since the beginning of the 19th century.

The exhibition presents more than 100 works of different media in chronological sections that explore key ideas and events. In the tumultuous 150 years before World War II (1939–1945), the territory of present-day Germany had five different governments. Culture, rather than nationhood, formed the basis of a collective German identity, and artists balanced a long history and rich traditions with rapid industrialization and a growing international prominence.

After 1933, German artists were censored and persecuted under the fascist Nazi (National Socialist) regime. Some who could, fled. Those who stayed witnessed the horrific extent of Nazi atrocities. Six million European Jews were killed in the Holocaust, along with individuals from other groups including Romani, people with disabilities, Slavic peoples, political dissidents, Jehovah’s Witnesses, people who identified as LGBTQIA+, as well as others targeted by the Nazi genocide.

Postwar German artists addressed the burden of this legacy, producing artworks that confronted the trauma of war and the memory of the Holocaust. Sometimes, their work provoked a German public not ready to face the recent past. After Germany’s division into communist East and capitalist West, art engaged with a Cold War landscape shaped by recent disaster and drastic political, social, and economic change. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 ushered in a new era during which artists embraced alternative media as they explored rapidly shifting popular culture and the globalized urban spaces of the emerging millennium.

The exhibition contains imagery that could be disturbing to some viewers.

Director introduction begins here. Audio guide available at slam.org/audio. #StormofProgress #STLArtMuseum

 

Georg Baselitz
German, born 1938

Untitled, from the Hero series, 1965
gouache, ink, graphite, and oil pastel on paper

In his Hero series, Georg Baselitz depicted ragged, awkward men traveling through desolate landscapes. Baselitz, who emigrated from East to West Germany in 1957, employed the notion of the hero ironically to evoke both the propagandistic art of the Nazis and Socialist Realism, the official style of the Soviet bloc. Questioning the nature of heroism in the wake of the Holocaust, Baselitz offers his “hero” as a metaphor for the deep malaise—both physical and emotional—of Germany’s war-torn society.

Museum Shop Fund 11:1994

 

Georg Baselitz
German, born 1938

Landscape with Pathos,
1970 synthetic resin on canvas

With its palette of soft natural tones, this canvas first appears to be a gestural abstract painting. Upon longer study, representational subject matter becomes apparent: an upside-down landscape with the sky and clouds depicted in the lower half. Georg Baselitz inverted the image to draw attention to the painting as a material object and not merely a window into a scene. He based this painting on a black-and-white photograph capturing a landscape view of Saxony, his native region in Germany. After inverting the photographed imagery, he added a large boulder—an artistic invention. Like other artworks in the exhibition, the two works in this first gallery examine changing notions of landscape, mythology, innovation, and war.

Gift of Alison and John Ferring and Friends Fund 6:2003

 

Charles Ferdinand Wimar
American (born Germany), 1828–1862

The Castle of Heidelberg, 1852
oil on canvas mounted on board

A towering tree frames a picturesque view of Heidelberg Castle ruins, a popular attraction for artists and writers in the 19th century. Germans knew the castle as the ancestral home of the Electors of the Palatinate, high-ranking rulers in the Holy Roman Empire. The Empire lasted over a thousand years (800/962–1806), and its territory encompassed present-day Germany, offering an important precedent for later unification.

Charles Ferdinand Wimar made this painting four years after Germany’s failed republican revolution in 1848. German by birth but raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Wimar presented the castle as a ruined artifact of Germany’s distant imperial past.

Bequest of Alice S. O’Hern 15:1984

 

Eugen Napoleon Neureuther
German, 1806–1882

Little Briar-Rose, from the Household Tales of the Brothers Grimm, 1836
etching

An impenetrable wall of thorns encloses a castle where everyone is asleep except for a prince poised to kiss the sleeping princess. Eugen Napoleon Neureuther’s print illustrates the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “Little Briar-Rose,” more familiar to Americans as Sleeping Beauty. The Brothers Grimm recorded their fairy tales, first published in 1812, in an effort to document Germanic folk stories. Neureuther’s print shows the growing popularity of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Without political unity, Germans embraced art, literature, and folklore that reflected a common cultural heritage.

The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund 1:2003

 

Nature and Nationhood

At the start of the 19th century, the modern state of Germany did not exist. In its place was a patchwork of independent territories including the major states of Prussia, Bavaria, and Saxony. After decades of economic collaboration between the regions in what was known as the Zollverein, or German Customs Union, the state of Germany, also called the German Empire, was formally established as an independent nation in 1871.

Landscape imagery played an important role in constructing the identity of the developing German nation. Artists traveled extensively to capture the geographical diversity of the German landscape, from the forests and mountains of Saxony to the expansive Baltic Coast. Their embrace of nature also offered spiritual and physical renewal to German citizens at a time of growing industrialization.

In addition to depicting their own land, German artists looked to nature-based mythology of the ancient world, appropriating Greek and Roman art to develop a national artistic tradition. In the decorative arts, designers created Jugendstil (Youth Style), characterized by curving natural forms expressing dynamism, as the German contribution to the international Art Nouveau movement. In complex and deeply symbolic imagery, artists built a collective cultural identity that was central to the emergence of Germany as a nation in the early 20th century.

 

Carl Wilhelm Kolbe
German, 1759–1835

Satyr Pursuing a Nymph, 1796
etching

Carl Wilhelm Kolbe wrote that, while walking in the forests near Dessau in northeastern Germany, he could “hear a satyr rustling through the bulrushes
in pursuit of a nymph.” The artist immersed himself in a version of nature permeated with the poetry of ancient myths, as seen here. Although equally adept at depicting figures and landscape, he claimed that it was “trees that have made me an artist.” Nicknamed “Oak Kolbe,” he lavished substantial attention on the individual characteristics of his trees, including the massive twisting oak that dominates this print.

Museum Shop Fund 30:1992

 

Max Klinger
German, 1857–1920

Bathing Woman, Reflecting in the Water, 1896–97
bronze

A bathing woman, her foot resting on a tree trunk, bends over to admire her reflection in a pool.
The seeming naturalism of the scene is complicated by Max Klinger’s ambiguous title, which suggests that the sculpture may be the woman’s reflection cast back into the world in bronze. Does the sculpture represent the bathing woman or her reflection? Double meanings and playful interpretations of ancient Greek and Roman models distinguish Klinger’s art.

Gift of Mr. Robert Isaacson 205:1986

 

Arnold Böcklin
Swiss (active Germany), 1827–1901

Venus Anadyomene, 1872
oil on panel

The newborn Venus, ancient Roman goddess of love and beauty, rises from the waves on the back of a sea monster. Cupids with butterfly wings clothe her in sea foam and crown her with a wreath. The Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin worked in Germany intermittently throughout his career, spending several years in Munich. His light, frothy brushwork and imaginative depictions of mythology made him one of Germany’s most popular painters.

Böcklin’s success inspired younger German artists to paint scenes from ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Examples by Max Klinger and Franz von Stuck are on view in this gallery.

Museum Purchase and funds given by Mr. and Mrs. Lester A. Crancer Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Stephen F. Brauer, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence E. Langsam, an Anonymous Friend, and Mr. and Mrs. Christian B. Peper 45:1993

 

from left to right, top to bottom:

Max Klinger
German, 1857–1920

Selection from Rescue of Ovid’s Victims: Opus II, 1879, printed 1882
etchings with aquatint

Painter’s Dedication (Invocation) Pyramus and Thisbe III
First Intermezzo
Second Intermezzo
Narcissus and Echo I
Narcissus and Echo II

Max Klinger invoked the ancient Roman poet Ovid in this series of prints. At first glance, these works appear to illustrate doomed lovers from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a collection of mythological poems. Like other 19th-century artists, Klinger revered ancient Greek and Roman themes. He composed images of figures in antique landscapes, often with decorative embellishments reminiscent of Roman architecture. However, he also irreverently altered Ovid’s stories by “rescuing” the characters from their original tragic ends. His retellings still had disappointing, even embarrassing conclusions.

Klinger transitioned between the stories with two prints of unrelated images called Intermezzos. They depict, respectively, a woman on a swing and an artist sketching marabou storks by the waterside.

FriendsFund 701:1991.2,.6,.8,.9,.10,.11

 

Franz von Stuck
German, 1863–1928

Teasing, 1889
oil on canvas

A large tree trunk conceals a smiling female figure from a faun who playfully pursues her. Franz von Stuck often depicted the mischievous antics of fauns, ancient mythological creatures that were part goat, part human. Stuck’s fascination with the culture and landscape of the ancient world served as the foundation for his innovative art. He set this scene in a dappled forest, using an avant-garde technique of repetitive, individual brushstrokes in contrasting complementary colors of greens and pinks, and oranges and blues.

Friends Fund Endowment; and Gift of Frances H. Thomson in memory of her husband, John Edwin Thomson, Bequest of Ruth Sudholt Wunderlich, Museum Purchase, Bequest of Mrs. Sophia M. Wolf, Gift of Mr. Louis Werner, Gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Overton Busch and Mrs. Thomas Curtis Adams in memory of their mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pope O’Fallon, Gift of J. Lionberger Davis, Gift of Nellie Ballard White, Gift of Miss Ella M. Boedeker, Bequest of Eleanor Lacey, all by exchange 484:2018

 

Franz von Stuck
German, 1863–1928

Dancers, 1896
stucco and pigment

Two dancers in diaphanous gowns execute mirror-image steps on this painted stucco plaque. The plaque’s blank background, simplified forms, and strong colors indicate its function as an element of interior decoration. Franz von Stuck designed the original plaque, on which this one is based, for the Villa Stuck, the Munich home he built, furnished, and decorated according to his own designs. He installed the original plaque in his music room, where it complemented easel and wall paintings on the themes of music and dance.

Bequest of Richard Brumbaugh 107:1989

 

Richard Riemerschmid, German, 1868–1957
made by Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk, Munich, Germany

Chair, 1898–99
oak and replacement leather

Richard Riemerschmid first conceived this chair with sinuous, sloping side supports and a rounded back for the coordinated interior of a music room (see image). Commissioned by piano manufacturer J.Mayer&Co., the room, which included a stenciled frieze and an innovative brass chandelier, was exhibited at the Dresden international exhibition of 1899.

Critics lauded the musician’s chair, in particular, for its realization of linear decoration through innovative construction and form. The commission established Riemerschmid as an important voice in the Munich Jugendstil, or Youth Style, the German expression of the international Art Nouveau movement.

Richard Brumbaugh Trust in memory of Richard Irving Brumbaugh and in honor of Grace Lischer Brumbaugh 248:1992

 

Margarete von Brauchitsch, German, 1865–1957
made by Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk, Munich, Germany

Window Curtain, c.1909
cotton and linen

Nature finds order in the leafy spirals and trailing green, black, and white grid of this embroidered window curtain. Its designer, Margarethe von Brauchitsch, was a leading figure of the Jugendstil, a progressive German design movement known for its bold use of simplified, organic ornament. The curtain panels were machine-embroidered by the Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk, or United Workshops for Art in Craft. The organization, which Brauchitsch co-founded with Richard Riemerschmid, Bruno Paul, and others, managed the production, sale, and exhibition of a wide range of products by reform-minded artists and designers.

Funds given by Mr. and Mrs. Harold W. Wiese through the 1989 Art Enrichment Fund 153:1990b,c

 

Max Beckmann
German, 1884–1950

Gray Day at the Sea, 1907
oil on canvas

In the vast expanse of sea, a tiny upended ship— perhaps sinking—is visible on the horizon beneath a menacing sky. This work, created in Schlawe (present-day Sławno, Poland), is one of a small group of marine paintings Max Beckmann produced on the Baltic Coast of Germany in the early 1900s.Grains of sand embedded in the paint indicate that Beckmann painted it outdoors, at least in part (see image). Lively brushwork evokes the movement of the frothy blue and green waves.

Bequest of Morton D. May 834:1983

 

Richard Riemerschmid German, 1868–1957
made by Reinhold Merkelbach, Grenzhausen, Germany

Punch Bowl, 1902–4
glazed stoneware

Dense fronds of pointed leaves and bands of five-petal blossoms ornament this spherical punch bowl. Potters used molds to form the vessel and to create leaf- and flower-shaped cells on the surface, which, when filled with glossy blue glaze, produce a boldly graphic design. The use of molds also reduced cost.

Architect Richard Riemerschmid designed furniture, metalwork, lighting, glass, and textiles. In 1900 he began a collaboration with Reinhold Merkelbach, a manufacturer of traditional stoneware, to create more modern and affordable ceramic wares such as this example with sleek geometric form and graphic ornament inspired by nature.

Funds given by Mr. and Mrs. John Peters MacCarthy through the 1989 Art Enrichment Fund 62:1990a,b

 

Bruno Paul, German, 1874–1968
for Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk,
Munich, Germany
made by K. M. Seifert & Co., Dresden-Löbtau, Germany

Candelabra, 1901
brass

This candelabra for 13 candles is often compared to the fanned tail of a peacock when the arms are aligned in this position or to a branching tree when they are rotated (see image). Despite these subtle references to nature, the conical candle sockets and base are ornamented only with lines. They mark a departure from other Jugendstil, or Youth Style, designs that more directly imitate organic forms.

Designers Bruno Paul and Richard Riemerschmid, whose punch bowl is exhibited nearby,
were among the architects, craftsmen, and manufacturers who formed the Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk, or the United Workshops for Art in Craft. The United Workshops sought to produce affordable modern design and advance the stature of German art industries.

Museum Shop Fund 169:1995

 

Joseph Maria Olbrich, Austrian, 1867–1908
made by Eduard Hueck Metallwarenfabrik, Lüdenscheid, Germany

Decanter Set, c.1901
pewter

This decanter set balances organic motifs and fluid lines with geometric forms and rhythmic patterns of abstract ornament. The decanter’s elongated neck, the downward turn of the lid, and the upright thumbpiece resemble a peacock’s raised head. Sweeping arcs define the tray’s edges, and merging circles and ovals contain the decanter and six tapered cylindrical cups.

In his architectural projects, Joseph Maria Olbrich desired to create a Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art, contributing all aspects of design, from town planning to typography. He included an example of this decanter set in one of his award-winning rooms exhibited at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

Museum Shop Fund and funds given by Mr. and Mrs. Sam Langsdorf Jr.
and Mrs. John W. Calhoun 57:1995a–h

 

Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471–1528

St. Eustace, c.1501
engraving

Albrecht Dürer depicted the miraculous moment when the ancient Roman general Placidus converted to Christianity within a lush and carefully observed northern forest. The composition is dominated by the general’s majestic horse and five hunting dogs poised among scrupulously delineated grasses, roots, plants, and rocks. The action, however, occurs between the kneeling general and the immobilized stag standing at right. Placidus converted when the brilliantly illuminated Crucifixion appeared between the deer’s antlers and Jesus spoke to him through the deer. Thereafter, Placidus took the name Eustace. In the 19th century, German artists adopted Dürer as a central figure in German artistic tradition, a key part of the construction of a national identity.

Museum Purchase 255:1916

 

Christian Friedrich
German, 1770–1843
after Caspar David Friedrich
German, 1774–1840

The Woman with the Spider’s Web between Bare Trunks (Melancholy), c.1801–3
woodcut

A woman gazes forlornly into the distance as she sits amid flowers, weeds, and barren trees. Above her head, a fly is about to be ensnared in a spider’s web. The mournful imagery of this print, also called Melancholy, suggests the fleeting nature of life. The woman’s surroundings have nearly engulfed her, deepening the sense of overwhelming sorrow, while also conveying the immensity of nature. This image was designed by the painter Caspar David Friedrich and cut into a wood block by his brother Christian, a furniture maker.

Museum Shop Fund and funds given by Mrs. Elmer G. Kiefer, Mr. Jack Ansehl, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene F. Williams Jr., the Kate Stamper Wilhite Charitable Foundation, BSI Constructors Inc., Dr. and Mrs. William H. Danforth, Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Knight, The Pershing Charitable Trust, The Labarque Trust, and donors to the Art Enrichment Fund 43:1995

 

Caspar David Friedrich
German, 1774–1840

Sunburst in the Riesengebirge, 1835
oil on canvas

Sunlight bursts over distant hills as a blue sky dispels gathering storm clouds. The hut at top left shows a human presence within this vast landscape. Caspar David Friedrich based this scene on the Riesengebirge, a mountain range between the present-day Czech Republic and Poland, which Friedrich hiked 25 years earlier in 1810. Elements of the landscape held strong symbolism for Friedrich and his audience. The fir tree represented life and vitality; the dead tree, mortality; and the illuminated hills, an aspiration toward the promise of eternity.

Friends Fund, Museum Purchase, Director’s Discretionary Fund, the Ann Goddard Trust, and the Third Wednesday Group 1:2019

 

from left to right:

Gerhard Richter
German, born 1932

Seascape I, 1969
offset lithograph, artist’s proof

Cloud, 1971
offset lithograph

An eerie puff of cloud floats over frothy ocean waves, and a bright sky covers a darkened sea. These prints’ artificial qualities undermine their status as accurate depictions of nature. In fact, each combines two different photographs that meet at the horizon line, a technique that unites mismatched images of sea and sky.

Gerhard Richter has stated, “My landscapes have connections with Romanticism: sometimes I feel a genuine desire, an attraction, for that period, and some of my paintings are a tribute to Caspar David Friedrich.” Here, Richter’s surreal clouds and vast expanses resonate with the clouds in the nearby Wanderer on the Mountaintop by Carl Gustav Carus, a contemporary of Friedrich. However, the dissonance between Richter’s sea and sky focuses our attention on their status as constructed images, preventing the immersion in nature that inspired Carus.

Museum Shop Fund 171:1990, 173:1990

 

Carl Gustav Carus
German, 1789–1869

Wanderer on the Mountaintop, 1818
oil on canvas

A traveler has climbed a winding path and rests with his staff on a mountaintop to look out over a sea of clouds. Lone, back-turned figures appear frequently in German Romantic art of the late 18th to 19th centuries. These figures represent a longing for unity with the vastness of nature, a characteristic of this art movement. Carl Gustav Carus described his own mystical experience in the mountains, writing “you lose yourself in boundless space…your ego vanishes; you are nothing, God is all.” Carus shared an affinity for mountain landscapes with his close friend and mentor Caspar David Friedrich, whose work is on view nearby.

Museum Shop Fund 323:1991

 

Erich Heckel
German, 1883–1970

Bathers, 1912–13
oil and encaustic on canvas

Erich Heckel’s aerial view of bathers captures life at a lakeside retreat in northern Germany. Heckel and other members of the artist group Die Brücke (The Bridge) visited such retreats to paint nude models outdoors and to escape the pressures of early 20th-century urban life. They were not alone. Many Germans practiced nude bathing as part of Lebensreform (Life Reform), a back-to-nature movement that advocated nudity outdoors to improve mental and physical health.

Bequest of Morton D. May 892:1983

 

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
German, 1884–1976

Village on the Sea, 1913
oil on canvas

Zigzags and stripes resolve into the triangular rooftops of houses, balloon-like poplar trees, and rolling pine forests. The Baltic Sea appears as a backdrop to the fishing village and artist colony of Nidden (present-day Nida, Lithuania), where Karl Schmidt-Rottluff stayed with Max Pechstein for four months in 1913. The paintings Schmidt-Rottluff made at Nidden transformed his art. Inspired by the landscape, he began to outline his motifs in black and repeat them as generic types for natural objects, giving his art a more patterned look.

Bequest of Morton D. May 939:1983

 

Max Pechstein
German, 1881–1955

Day of Steel, 1911
oil on canvas

Nude women in dramatic primary colors of red, yellow, and blue explore a wooded setting. Max Pechstein painted Day of Steel during his second visit to Nidden (present-day Nida, Lithuania), a fishing village on the Baltic Sea. Although Pechstein lived in the metropolis of Berlin, he relished his annual trips to the seaside as opportunities to find artistic inspiration in nature. The painting’s enigmatic title may reference the steely blue sky or, more allusively, nudist bathing as a “steeling” and revitalizing activity, particularly since Pechstein wrote of the dreadful weather that he experienced during his stay.

Bequest of Morton D. May 927:1983

 

Erich Heckel
German, 1883–1970

White Horses, 1912
color woodcut

The strong wind of a storm bends trees and spooks two white horses who strain against their handlers. Erich Heckel may have witnessed this scene while visiting fellow artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner on Fehmarn, an island in the Baltic Sea north of Germany. Kirchner later wrote that “ochre, blue, and green are the colors of Fehmarn, a wonderful coast formation often of South Sea opulence, absurd flowers with fat stems.” The colors of White Horses and its tall tulip-shaped trees echo Kirchner’s description of the Baltic island.

Gift of Curt Valentin, Buchholz Gallery 18:1948

 

Heinrich Campendonk
German (active Netherlands), 1889–1957

Bucolic Landscape, 1913
oil on canvas

Like a fairy tale, a menagerie of animals joins a man and woman in a mountainous landscape. The setting evokes the idyllic artist colony of Sindelsdorf in southern Germany, Heinrich Campendonk’s home. The bold colors and geometric shapes reflect the ideas he encountered there. Campendonk and his fellow contributors to the Blauer Reiter (Blue Rider) almanac organized exhibitions of European modern art, including French Cubism and Italian Futurism. Campendonk’s faceted abstraction, seen in this painting, synthesizes these influences and German Expressionist color theory.

Bequest of Morton D. May 875:1983

 

from top to bottom:

Franz Marc
German, 1880–1916

Tiger, 1912
woodcut

Friends Fund 8:2007

Riding School, 1913
woodcut

Funds given by the Children’s Art Bazaar 478:1979

The bold contrast of black and white in these woodcuts heightens the sense of danger as a tiger bares its teeth and a startled horse threatens to throw its rider. For Franz Marc, color—even black and white—was chiefly a way to communicate emotions, especially the emotions of the animals he depicted in his art. He once asked, “how does a horse see the world, or an eagle, or a deer, or a dog?” If we sense fear in Riding School, perhaps it is the horse’s fear of the dog at his feet rather than the fear of the rider.

 

Gabriele Münter
German, 1877–1962

Cemetery with a New Grave, 1908
oil on board

Bright red flowers mark a new grave in a Bavarian churchyard in Murnau, Germany. Its scenic landscape and picturesque buildings attracted Gabriele Münter, who bought a home nearby and chose this cemetery as her final resting place. In Murnau, she began to make art that transformed scenes from nature into abstract compositions. This painting shows an early stage in that development: Münter cropped out the quaint church and mountainous backdrop to emphasize the contrast of the red flowers against the verdant plantings.

Bequest of Morton D. May, by exchange 206:2019

 

Alexei Jawlensky
Russian (active Germany), 1864–1941

Spring, 1912
oil on board

Bright yellows, greens, and pinks evoke the colors of spring and give this woman’s face an almost flowerlike appearance. European artists had personified the four seasons as women for centuries, but that was not Alexei Jawlensky’s intent. He believed that a painting’s colors inspired an emotional response in its viewer. The woman’s blushing red cheeks and bold mouth, outlined in yellow, suggest love and affection—feelings associated with spring.

Bequest of Morton D. May 896:1983

 

Christian Rohlfs
German, 1849–1938

Two Figures, 1924
watercolor on board

A woman and man emerge from the liquid blue haze of Christian Rohlfs’ painting. He achieved this coloristic effect by wiping away patches of water-soluble paint to create transparent facets. The resulting image is mysterious, a quality that popularized Rohlfs’ art after World War I (1914–1918).

Remarkably, Rohlfs was 70 years old when he developed his Expressionist style. A successful royal court painter in Weimar, he discovered French Impressionism and became the artist-in-residence at the Folkwang Museum, Germany’s first museum dedicated to modern art.

Gift of Morton D. May 359:1955

 

from left to right:

Lyonel Feininger
American (active Germany), 1871–1956

Woman’s Head with Green Eyes, 1915
oil on canvas

Jesuits II, 1913
oil on canvas

From robed priests in a churchyard to a portrait of his wife, Lyonel Feininger painted familiar scenes from daily life. His crystalline faceted style led critics to call him “the German Cubist,” much to his dismay. Feininger insisted he was an Expressionist. He claimed that abstraction liberated his art from imitating nature and freed him to express his feelings.

Feininger was one of few Americans associated with Expressionism. He attended college in Germany, where his successful career included teaching at the Bauhaus school for art, architecture, and design. After 50 years in the country, he returned to the United States in 1936 to escape Nazi persecution.

Bequest of Morton D. May 887:1983, 886:1983

 

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
German (active Switzerland), 1880–1938

View from the Window, 1914
oil on canvas

In this view from his Berlin studio window, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner deftly manipulated color and scale to create a nightmarish effect. The acid-yellow buildings loom precipitously over the pink rail yard, blocking out an eerie green sky. Sheds in the foreground are artificially small and sit at a precarious angle. Kirchner aptly described his astringent palette in this period as “iridescent colors, as if seen through a nacreous mist.”

Bequest of Morton D. May 902:1983

 

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
German (active Switzerland), 1880–1938

Sailboats at Fehmarn, 1914
woodcut with black wash

Two sailboats cruise along the coast of Fehmarn, an island in the Baltic Sea where Ernst Ludwig Kirchner spent many summers. A bold arc of black sails float across the print like paper triangles in the wind. Their dynamic angles set the composition spinning and capture the feel of boats bobbing on choppy water. Kirchner had been making woodcuts for eight years, experience that shows in his waves made from the lacy edges of gouge marks.

Gift of Buchholz Gallery 25:1949

 

Edvard Munch
Norwegian, 1863–1944

Evening. Melancholy I, 1896–1901
color woodcut

A brooding man’s face and hands float in the inky black of night. Made from a hand-carved block of wood, this print shows rough gouges and wood grain, techniques Norwegian Edvard Munch used to strengthen his art’s psychological intensity. Members of the artist group Die Brücke (The Bridge) imitated Munch’s techniques in their early woodcuts, prompting a critic in 1908 to describe the young German artists as “spirits who band together around Munch.”

Gift of Mrs. Richard K. Weil by exchange 100:1957

 

from left to right:

Max Pechstein
German, 1881–1955

Indian and Woman, 1910
oil on canvas

The Big Indian, 1910
oil on canvas

The riotous colors of these two interiors by Max Pechstein are not exaggerated. He painted his studio in bright hues and decorated it with patterned rugs and wall hangings to create a real space like the ones he showed in his art. Pechstein made these two works at the same sessions in early 1910, which account for their similarities in color, composition, and models.

The male model seen here is identified as Indian, but his actual race and identity are unknown. Pechstein often visited cabarets and circuses where dance and music performed by non-European artists were popular at the height of German colonialism. The man’s theatrical costume and hand drum suggest he may have performed in such an act.

Bequest of Morton D. May 926:1983, 931:1983

 

Expressionism: An Art of Color and Flatness

In 1911, Expressionist art was still unknown in Germany. That year, an artist group in Berlin called the New Secession organized an ambitious exhibition of recent art from across the country. The city’s critics took note.

Confronted by a dizzying array of styles, one writer saw a common thread. He claimed that these artists challenged long-held artistic conventions by rejecting nature as a model for their art. They denounced paintings that simulated depth and volume on flat canvas as poor imitations of sculpture. The Neue Kunst (New Art), later known as Expressionism, elevated intense color and extreme flatness as painting’s essential features.

The perceptive writer was Herwarth Walden. In the years that followed, he championed the cause of Expressionist art in his influential journal and art gallery, both named Der Sturm (The Storm). For the artists he exhibited, many of whose works are on view in this room, the storm meant a new kind of art that provoked the establishment and swept away its exhausted values.

 

Georg Tappert
German, 1880–1957

Toilette, 1910
oil on canvas

In this stark composition, a scene of a woman arranging her hair doubles as an exercise in color. Horizontal bands of intense purple and red break across the glowing white of her columnar torso. Flecks of yellow, blue, and pink animate her skin, pale reflections of the surrounding colors. Georg Tappert was a leading Expressionist artist in Berlin and cofounder of the New Secession. Much of his art was lost in World War II when a bomb struck his house.

Bequest of Morton D. May 942:1983

 

War and Its Aftermath

World War I (1914–1918) was a humiliating defeat that shattered the life of every German. Millions died or suffered debilitating physical and psychological wounds; the country lost vast territories and bore devastating reparation payments. The abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II offered hope for political renewal as the Empire fell to the first German republic, whose constitution granted civil liberties that had been denied under imperial rule.

A universal draft meant that most male artists either served in World War I or went into exile. After their service, many no longer identified with the art they had made before the war. They put aside aesthetic theory to confront the political crises of their day, the horrors of war, and the suffering of survivors in works fueled by raw emotion. The visible world, which seemed so distant in Expressionist art before the war, returned with a vengeance in the form of disfigured bodies.

 

from top to bottom:

Otto Dix
German, 1891–1969

Selection from The War, 1924

Signal Flare Lights up Monacu Farm
etching
Museum Shop Fund 237:1992

At Langemarck (February 1918)
etching and drypoint
Friends Fund 32:1994

A flare reveals the nighttime ruins of a farm, while a crater-pocked battlefield stretches as far as the eye can see. These devastated landscapes strewn with human remains capture the destruction of trench warfare in World War I.

Otto Dix made these prints for his series Der Krieg (The War), 50 etchings of his experience as a soldier on the Western Front. The farm at Monacu is his memory of the Battle of the Somme, which lasted for four months. Langemarck was the site of a powerful German myth. At a battle there, young recruits supposedly marched to their death singing the national anthem. Dix’s brutal image questions the value of their sacrifice.

 

Carl Hoeckner
American (born Germany), 1883–1972

The Homecoming of 1918, 1919
oil on panel

Emaciated and disfigured men, women, and children confront us in a wall of misery. The raw violence of this painting is disturbing, but it still fails to capture the human cost of World War I. Soldiers experienced the new horrors of mustard gas and shell bombardment while civilians faced widespread famine and disease.

The war radicalized many artists, including Carl Hoeckner, who had immigrated from Munich to Chicago in 1910. He abandoned his stylish subjects to make art that raised awareness of human suffering and social inequity.

Gift of John and Susan Horseman 700:2018

 

Käthe Kollwitz
German, 1867–1945

Bread!, 1924
lithograph

Käthe Kollwitz captured the desperation in a malnourished child’s sunken eyes as she pleads with her mother for help. Another child begging for food pulls at the woman’s dress. More than 900,000 German civilians died of starvation during World War I due to the British naval blockade. Food shortages continued during the currency crisis that followed the war’s end.

Kollwitz made prints like this one to bring attention to the issue of hunger. A committed pacifist, she wrote “Every war is answered by a new war, until everything is smashed.”

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Schield 537:1957

 

Käthe Kollwitz
German, 1867–1945

Sleeping Woman with Child, 1929
woodcut

With incredible economy of line, Käthe Kollwitz depicted an intimate scene of a mother resting with her baby. It is a rare moment of peace among her subjects, most of which center on the war’s devastating impact on women and children. The artist’s youngest son was killed in World War I at age 18. This knowledge adds a layer of intensity to the image as a personal memory of loss.

The Julian and Hope Edison Print Fund and Museum Shop Fund 221:1992

 

Robert L. Leonard
German (active United States), 1879–1943

He’s to Blame…England Is the Main Enemy!, 1917–18
color lithograph

This German propaganda poster shows John Bull with his bulldog, both personifications of England, turning his back on Germany. It targets the British naval blockade, which prevented all goods from entering the country. The blockade worsened Germany’s failing food supply at the end of the war and contributed to widespread civilian starvation. This poster tells Germans to blame England for their daily hardships, including shortages of coal and food, to boost support for the increasingly unpopular war.

Transferred from the St. Louis Public Library 245:1974

 

Max Beckmann
German, 1884–1950

Morgue, 1923
woodcut

Even soldiers who did not fight on the front witnessed terrible scenes, like this one of mutilated bodies in a military morgue. Max Beckmann routinely transported corpses during his two years as a medical orderly in World War I. The bodies’ rigid limbs and twisted hands resemble the wooden, contorted poses of the figures he began to paint after his discharge, like those in Christ and the Sinner, nearby.

Neumann/Frumkin Collection, purchased with funds provided by the bequest of Morton D. May, by exchange, the bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn in honor of her father, David May, by exchange, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Museum Shop Fund, Mr. and Mrs. Lester A. Crancer Jr., Phoebe and Mark Weil, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, Mr. and Mrs. David C. Farrell, the Julian and Hope Edison Print Fund, gift of George Rickey, by exchange, bequest of Helen K. Baer, by exchange, Suzanne and Jerry Sincoff, Museum Shop Fund, by exchange, gift of the Buchholz Gallery, by exchange, Museum Purchase, by exchange, Jerome F. and Judith Weiss Levy, bequest of Horace M. Swope, by exchange, and funds given by Fielding Lewis Holmes through the 1988 Art Enrichment Fund, by exchange 416:2002

 

Max Beckmann
German, 1884–1950

Christ and the Sinner, 1917
oil on canvas

In this unconventional depiction, Jesus stops an angry mob from stoning a woman to death. The biblical story’s message of non-violence expresses Max Beckmann’s pacifism after his wartime service. Beckmann volunteered as a medical orderly during the war, but constant exposure to dead and dying soldiers traumatized him. This is one of the first paintings he made after his discharge in 1917.

Twenty years later, Christ and the Sinner appeared in the infamous Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) show, a propaganda exhibition organized by the Nazi government to indoctrinate Germans against Expressionist and abstract art.

Bequest of Curt Valentin 185:1955

 

Industry as Art

Industrialization in Germany advanced with breathtaking speed after 1900. Germany produced more steel than any other European nation, and its high-quality manufactured goods flooded markets. A major factor in Germany’s transformation was its trade schools, where students learned to approach industry with scientific precision.

As German engineers elevated industry to an art form, artists explored industrial subjects and materials. Students at the Bauhaus school of art, architecture, and design used glass and tubular steel to make furniture and household goods that imitated the streamlined style of machine-made products. Photography was celebrated as the epitome of mechanical art, and photographers turned to factories and machines as fitting subjects.

Industry drove Germany’s economic recovery after World War I (1914–1918), but it soon showed a dark side. Leading companies supported the rise of the Nazi (National Socialist) party and, in return, profited from Nazi government contracts and protections.

 

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, German, 1886–1969
made by Berliner Metallgewerbe Joseph Müller, Berlin, Germany

Side Chair (MR 10), 1927
nickel-plated steel and cane

Only steel has the strength to support the weight of a person on two slender curving tubes. Inspired by tubular steel’s physical properties, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe replaced standard chair legs with a counterbalanced design called a cantilever to make the chair seem to float. In 1927, he debuted the MR 10 at the Weissenhof Estate, a neighborhood of model homes designed by leading modernist architects using prefabricated components. The chair was so popular that it is still produced today.

Richard Brumbaugh Trust in memory of Richard Irving Brumbaugh and in honor of Grace Lischer Brumbaugh 174:1992

 

Oskar Schlemmer
German, 1888–1943

Before the Mirror, 1931
oil on canvas

A strong light reflects off the shiny body of a strange figure. Critics described Oskar Schlemmer’s subjects as mechanical dolls for their metallic skin and segmented limbs. They resemble the costumes Schlemmer designed for dances he choreographed at the Bauhaus, where he taught theater in the 1920s. By the time Schlemmer made this painting in 1931, he described his mechanical dolls in terms of a “grand figural style,” in which the abstracted human form achieved conceptual precision.

Bequest of Morton D. May 937:1983

 

from left to right:

Albert Renger-Patzsch
German, 1897–1966

Untitled (Machine Part), c.1930
gelatin silver print

Industrial Valves, 1930
gelatin silver print

“To do justice to modern technology’s rigid linear structure, to the lofty gridwork of cranes and bridges, to the dynamism of machines operating at one thousand horsepower—only photography is capable of that.”

—Albert Renger-Patzsch, 1927

Valve handles soar like forest trees into the sky and intricate machine parts gleam with perfection in these visual hymns to the beauty found in industry. For Albert Renger-Patzsch, these were common sights. He lived and worked as a photographer in the Ruhr River valley, the coal-mining district that powered all of Germany’s heavy industries. Renger-Patzsch photographed factories and machines as aesthetic objects, and he believed the camera’s rapid speed and mechanical accuracy was the best way to capture their visual power.  

Museum Shop Fund 182:1995, 30:1995

 

Margaret Bourke-White
American, 1904–1971

Ammonia Storage Tanks, 1930
gelatin silver print

Like hot-air balloons, massive spherical tanks of toxic gas hover overhead in Margaret Bourke-White’s photograph of a German ammonia factory. The tanks dwarf two workers standing on top in a visual metaphor of industrial might. Bourke-White shot this photograph for a story on German heavy industry in 1930 while on assignment for Fortune magazine. This ammonia factory was operated by IG Farben, Germany’s biggest chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturer and the single largest donor to the Nazi party’s successful 1932 election campaign.

Museum Purchase and the Martin Schweig Memorial Fund for Photography 87:1976

 

Peter Behrens
German, 1868–1940
made by Allgemeine Elektricitäts- Gesellschaft (AEG), Berlin, Germany

Table Fan (model WT 22), c. 1920
painted cast iron and brass

This table fan’s sleek brass blades and crisp geometric ornament efficiently express what its designer Peter Behrens called “the rhythm of the time.” An early advocate for the role of art in industry, in 1907, Behrens assumed the still unusual position of artistic consultant at Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG), a Berlin-based manufacturer of electrical equipment. At AEG, Behrens defined the look of a dizzying variety of visual forms, from factories and retail spaces to letterhead, posters, tea kettles, and electric fans. His integrated approach to industrial design inspired a generation of German architects, including Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, who worked in Behrens’ office from 1907 to 1910.

David Allen Hanks Fund for the Decorative Arts, and Museum Purchase 154:1990

 

Wilhelm Wagenfeld, German, 1900–1990
Carl Jakob Jucker, Swiss, 1902–1997
made by Bauhaus Metal Workshop, Germany

Table Lamp, 1923–24
glass and nickel-plated brass

Faced with the challenge of designing an electric table lamp, two Bauhaus students adopted the
glass sphere as inspiration. Their design, one of the few Bauhaus lamps that went into production, repeats the geometric shapes of the circle, cylinder, and hemisphere in clear and milk glass. Bauhaus designers believed that simple forms lent themselves to mass production. In fact, this lamp’s components had to be custom made, and the lightbulb’s heat cracked early versions of the shade, which proves that simple designs are not inherently functional.

Richard Brumbaugh Trust in memory of Richard Irving Brumbaugh and in honor of Grace Lischer Brumbaugh 165:1993a,b

 

Hans Przyrembel
German, 1900–1945
made by Bauhaus Metal Workshop, Germany

Tea Caddy, 1926
nickel silver

This plain cylinder of shiny nickel silver epitomizes the Bauhaus design principle of functionalism. All unnecessary details are eliminated to maximize its utility for storing loose tea: an opaque container with an airtight lid and a simple spout. Hans Przyrembel’s considerable skill at metalworking shows in the tea caddy’s perfect symmetry, a product of virtuosic handwork that imitates the precision of machine production. This is one of only five surviving examples of this design and was formerly owned by the artist’s family.

The Marjorie Wyman Endowment Fund 84:2004a,b

 

Theodor Bogler
German, 1897–1968
made by Bauhaus Ceramic Workshop, Dornburg, Germany

Combination Teapot, 1923
glazed earthenware

The most radical feature of this streamlined teapot is how it was made. Bauhaus ceramics professor Theodor Bogler crafted a set of modular teapot parts—handles, spouts, bodies, and lids—that could be assembled in any combination, hence its title of Combination Teapot. Unfortunately, attaching the individually cast spouts and handles required considerable time and handwork. Because of this, the teapot was considered a “heroic failure” and was never licensed for commercial production.

 

Trauma and Memory: Examining Germany’s Nazi Past

By 1945, Germany had experienced a second catastrophic military defeat, leaving the country again in ruin and rubble. After World War II (1939–1945), a divided Germany emerged as the principal stage upon which Cold War (1947–1991) dramas played out primarily between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). This period of geopolitical tension was epitomized by dueling economic systems of Soviet socialism in East Germany and American-sponsored capitalism in West Germany, which were reinforced across cultural spheres.

As revelations about the genocide of six million European Jews and the extent of Nazi (National Socialist) war crimes became more widely disseminated, artists began to address the atrocities committed during World War II. In the immediate postwar period, citizens struggled to reckon with their country’s responsibility for the Holocaust, as lingering questions of guilt were temporarily pushed aside to aid reconstruction efforts.

The artists whose paintings are on this wall were children at the end of the war. As adults in the 1970s and ’80s, they confronted the war’s traumatic legacy and their parents’ and grandparents’ involvement in the Nazi regime. Some of these artists’ works initially shocked German audiences who mistakenly understood the imagery as supportive of Nazi ideology. Yet, these artists’ challenging subject matter purposefully laid bare Germany’s uneasy relationship with the traumatic wartime period.

 

A.R. Penck
German, 1939–2017

Tulb, 1976
acrylic on canvas

A black eagle hovers above the German word blut, or blood, spelled backward. A.R. Penck was fascinated with the eagle, a longstanding symbol of German national identity. When paired with the word blut, it recalls the trauma of Germany’s past, particularly the terror and bloodshed of World War II and the Holocaust. Penck, who lived in East Germany at the time he created this painting, was suggesting a shared German history and the responsibility of Germany as a whole to examine its past.

Friends Fund; and bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn in honor of her father, David May, by exchange 14:2003

 

Georg Baselitz
German, born 1938

White Woman, 1980
tempera on canvas

Layers of dark paint create an expressive surface from which an inverted, white figure emerges. Georg Baselitz based the figure on a photograph published in the journal Stern in 1979 of a Russian woman in Germany after World War II. The woman, who went from prisoner to victor, supervised German women tasked with cleaning up ruined cities. This painting recalls shared memories of Germans who had to construct new lives in the aftermath of the atrocities of the Holocaust and the loss of a war that left poverty and destruction in its wake.

Funds given by Mrs. Alvin R. Frank, Bruce and Kimberly Olson, and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas K. Langsdorf 7:2003

 

Markus Lüpertz
German, born 1941

German Motif Dithyrambic-III, 1972
distemper on canvas

This forceful painting was executed with intense colors, stark outlines, and a radically magnified scale. Here, Markus Lüpertz provoked viewers to fill in the gaps of a story by connecting the objects depicted to the “German motif” referenced in the painting’s title. Aspects of the composition recall symbols associated with Nazi ideology and elements of German myth and history co-opted by the Nazi party. For example, the sheaf of wheat and spade would have been associated with the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD), a Nazi organization intended to indoctrinate youth.

Funds given by Anabeth and John Weil 9:2003

 

from left to right:

Gerhard Richter
German, born 1932

Train Station, 1967
offset lithograph

Elisabeth II, 1966
offset lithograph

In the 1960s, Gerhard Richter began experimenting with the industrial printing techniques used in these two prints. Elisabeth II is based on a small newspaper photograph of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Richter suggested the elusive quality of celebrity, creating an anti-portrait through enlargement, blurring, and other manipulations that make the image difficult to read. These interventions also highlight the process of photomechanical reproduction.

In Train Station, Richter altered a postcard image of a building to create a circle of light at the center. He then had the image printed out of register, or misaligned, resulting in a blurred effect that lends a sense of mystery and drama. By using a common illustration as a starting point, Richter intended his print to be an amusing commentary on the relationship between commercial and fine art.

Museum Shop Fund 165, 164:1990

 

Capitalist Realism: Art After the Economic Miracle

The artistic movement Capitalist Realism emerged from the rapid economic recovery of West Germany, known as the Economic Miracle, in the decades following World War II (1939–1945). This moment was marked by an influx of both domestic and imported consumer goods, fully stocked supermarkets, newly constructed department stores, and a robust alliance with the United States and Western Europe.

German artists responded to the Pop art movement in the United States and Britain, which drew inspiration from sources in popular and commercial culture like comic books and advertising. A small group of West German artists, including Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Konrad Lueg, and Manfred Kuttner, invented the term Capitalist Realism as a commentary on Socialist Realism, the state-sponsored style of art in East Germany, and the western economic system of capitalism. Capitalist Realism took a dark, ironic stance toward the politics of capitalism, embodying a deeply held ambivalence toward the Economic Miracle.

Capitalist Realist artworks combined a fascination with the absurdity and superficiality of mass media and advertising with a criticism of the materialistic culture of postwar West German society. Employing commercial materials and the media of mass-production, these artists called into question middle-class values and aspirations. They also recalled the not-so-distant trauma of a war that was—they felt—too easily papered over by the pleasures of consumerism.

 

Sigmar Polke
German, 1941–2010

Girl Friends, 1967
offset lithograph on cardboard

Starting in the 1960s, Sigmar Polke appropriated newspaper and magazine images as seen in Girl Friends. He then magnified them to reveal the underlying grid of dots created by the industrial printing process and transferred the images onto canvas or, in this case, into a lithograph. Polke’s enlargement highlighted the photomechanical printing process, challenging the distinction between commercial and fine art production. Here, the process and source image allude to the rapid influx of consumer goods and rise of American popular culture central to West German reconstruction.

Mr. and Mrs. Don Wolff and Museum Purchase 110:1992

 

top row from left to right:

Sigmar Polke, German, 1941–2010

Drug: in the little roll there is a pulverized picture of Polke to take with water, 1968
felt-tipped pen and ink wash on ruled paper

Glass Palm Tree, from the series ….Higher Beings Ordain, 1968
offset lithograph on paper

Button Palm Tree, from the series ….Higher Beings Ordain, 1968
offset lithograph on paper

Polke Defoliates a Tree, from the series ….Higher Beings Ordain, 1968
offset lithograph on paper

bottom row from left to right:

Apparatus used for impregnating the air with a picture. The picture is whirled through the air on a cord, 1968
ballpoint pen on graph paper

The Whip, 1968
offset lithograph on paper

Polke as Palm Tree, from the series ….Higher Beings Ordain, 1968
offset lithograph on paper

Cotton Palm Tree, from the series ….Higher Beings Ordain, 1968
offset lithograph on paper

This selection of prints and drawings is from a portfolio by Sigmar Polke. The prints mimic textbook illustrations, complete with descriptive captions, while the drawings resemble the notes of a mad scientist. Together they present a satirical exploration of the artist as creative genius.

In the prints, everyday materials, like glasses, buttons, and cotton, are turned into palm trees and then photographed, creating an intentionally absurd inventory. The household objects and the palm tree were symbols of a new German leisure society ushered in with the Economic Miracle.

The drawings outline unique inventions for cultivating creativity: Drug… is a pill containing a pulverized portrait of Polke to be swallowed, allowing the artist’s brilliance to be absorbed. Apparatus used for impregnating the air with a picture… whirls a drawing through the air, saturating the room with the artwork’s aura.

Gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 88:2003.2, .4, .7, .8, .9, .12, .16, .18

 

Gerhard Richter
German, born 1932

Townscape Sa 2, 1969
oil on canvas

While this painting appears to represent an aerial view of a cityscape, in fact Gerhard Richter based
its composition on a black-and-white photograph of a now-lost architectural model. Appropriating that image, Richter’s painting alludes to the types of streamlined, mass-produced buildings erected throughout Germany in the 1960s following the destruction of World War II. Richter’s brushy, gestural paint application softens the utilitarian, geometric forms of the model buildings, such as flat roofs, horizontal windows, and white walls.

The Siteman Contemporary Art Fund, partial gift of John and Sally Van Doren and Mr. and Mrs. Ronald K. Greenberg, Friends Fund, and Museum Purchase 67:2001

 

Sigmar Polke
German, 1941–2010

Why Can’t I Stop Smoking?, 1964
dispersion and charcoal on canvas

Thinly painted on unprimed canvas, this work was painted in an offhand manner consistent with the deadpan tone of the question written in English at the top. Below, a male figure in a necktie is only partially completed, as if the artist lost interest. Here, Sigmar Polke insults the tradition of painting by using inexpensive paints on a cheap support and borrowing imagery and text from popular culture. This intentionally sloppy translation of advertising imagery suggests a sarcastic critique of the addictive nature and easy comfort of consumer culture and middle-class norms.

Funds given by Mr. and Mrs. Donald L. Bryant Jr., the Gary Wolff Family, Friends Fund, and Modern Art Purchase Fund; and gift of the Honorable and Mrs. Thomas F. Eagleton, by exchange 15:2003

 

Dieter Roth
Swiss (born Germany), 1930–1998

Chocolate Gnome, 1969
garden gnome, chocolate, and glass

In this wry sculpture, a garden gnome is submerged in chocolate, leaving only the tip of its hat visible. Dieter Roth used everyday materials in his artworks to address issues of culture and commerce within postwar society. Beginning in the 1960s, he became notorious for his use of perishable food, demonstrating art’s inherent instability and transience. Roth worked extensively with chocolate between 1968 and 1970. Often associated with pleasure and as a major consumer good of Switzerland, where Roth was raised, here it assumes a more sinister character, appearing to drown the gnome.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 96:2003

 

Performative Impulse

Beginning in the 1960s, artists in West Germany turned to performance to examine politics, the atrocities of World War II (1939–1945), and contemporary aesthetic questions. The turn toward performative and participatory art was partly driven by the international artist network Fluxus, that originated a variety of artforms, from sound and electronic media to live events. One German artist influenced by Fluxus, Joseph Beuys, became a dominant figure in German art for decades.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Beuys developed an expanded concept of art that aimed to use creative acts, including thought-provoking sculpture, performances, and activism, to permeate all aspects of society. He discussed his principles in lectures and public forums and recorded his political, social, and philosophical beliefs through his art. Beuys’ ideas were embraced by many of his students at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in West Germany, where he taught from 1961 to 1975.

Simultaneously, in Vienna, Austria, several artists later known as Viennese Actionists expanded performance by engaging in collaborative actions that verged on violent and grotesque. Their elaborate, almost ritualistic performances frequently incorporated animal slaughter and bodily fluids. In these aggressive assaults on mainstream culture and sensibilities, the artists expressed their dissatisfaction with what they saw as the uptight, classist society and government of post-World War II Austria.

 

Rudolf Schwarzkogler
Austrian, 1940–1969

from the portfolio Vienna Happenings, 1965, published 1980

Action 1 (Wedding)
gelatin silver print
photographed by Siegfried Klein

Action 1 (Wedding)
gelatin silver print
photographed by Ludwig Hoffenreich, Austrian
photographed by Walter Kindler, Austrian

Action 1 (Wedding)
gelatin silver print
photographed by Ludwig Hoffenreich, Austrian
photographed by Walter Kindler, Austrian

Action 1 (Wedding)
gelatin silver print
photographed by Ludwig Hoffenreich, Austrian
photographed by Walter Kindler, Austrian

For the deliberately enigmatic action, or performance, Wedding, Rudolf Schwarzkogler transformed the Vienna studio of his friend Heinz Cibulka into a stage set. These photographs, from a portfolio documenting Schwarzkogler’s performative acts, show him positioning assorted objects on a table, ripping open a drape, and subjecting collaborators Anni Brus and Cibulka to a number of bizarre procedures. After splattering paint on the half-dressed “bride” and wrapping the “groom” in cellophane, Schwarzkogler mounted the table and lit a sparkler uncomfortably close to their faces.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 103:2003.1, .6, .5, .11

 

Action 2 (Untitled)
gelatin silver print
photographed by Ludwig Hoffenreich, Austrian

Action 6 (Untitled)
gelatin silver print
photographed by Michael Epp

Action 3 (Untitled)
gelatin silver print
photographed by Franziska Krammel, Austrian

Action 6 (Untitled)
gelatin silver print
photographed by Michael Epp

These photographs represent a selection from six performative actions organized by Rudolf Schwarzkogler, who died by suicide in 1969 at age 29. Unlike contemporaneous artistic performances that were improvised and quickly documented, the actions Schwarzkogler recorded in the portfolio Vienna Happenings were carefully composed events that could later be reenacted. Schwarzkogler cast his collaborator, Heinz Cibulka, as a passive prop, wrapping him in bandages and subjecting him to feigned mutilation with knives or syringes. Schwarzkogler developed a system of symbolism based on recognizable imagery that he left open to various interpretations.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 103:2003.15, .57, .33, .54

 

Franz Erhard Walther
German, born 1939

Werksotger, 1969
ink and graphite

This drawing outlines Franz Erhard Walther’s plan for an artwork made from fabric with a pouch at each end that a person slipped over their torso. Walther promoted spatial, performative, and temporal forms of artmaking. He radically abandoned conventional modes of painting and sculpture to rethink art as a process rather than a product. Halfway between sculpture and performance, the work depicted here only became complete following its activation and manipulation by the viewer. Walther’s aim was to transform the consumption of art from an individual, reflective activity into one that was participatory and collective.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 113:2003

 

Ulrich Rückriem
German, born 1938

Untitled, 1976
india ink on tracing paper

In this drawing, Ulrich Rückriem combined a simple geometric form—the rectangle—in various iterations. These rectangles laid out in a regular sequence may correspond to one of Rückriem’s many understated sculptures. Trained as a stonemason, he participated in the reconstruction of the Cologne Cathedral after its World War II bombing. Primarily interested in principles of form and the inherent qualities of stone, Rückriem’s minimal works take his materials as the starting point; he alters them as little as possible.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 98:2003

 

Jörg Immendorff
German, 1945–2007

Beuysland, 1965
oil on canvas

In Beuysland, Jörg Immendorff addressed his early relationship with his mentor Joseph Beuys, silhouetted at center wearing his iconic fishing vest and hat. As a student at the Düsseldorf Art Academy from 1963 to 1969, Immendorff worked closely with Beuys. This work expresses admiration for his teacher while it also seems to lampoon Beuys’ revered position in postwar German art, combining Beuys’ name with Deutschland, or Germany. Initially with Beuys, and later with increasing independence, Immendorff developed paintings and performances that questioned existing political structures and the conservativism of the art academy.

Friends Fund 4:2003

 

from left (front) to right (back):

Joseph Beuys
German, 1921–1986

How the Dictatorship of the Parties Can Be Overcome, 1971
printed plastic

Joseph Beuys designed this plastic shopping bag with a political chart on the front and a facsimile of a hand-drawn diagram on the reverse. Both sides are exhibited here. Printing 10,000 such bags, Beuys advocated that art should be available to all and that every person is in fact an artist. The circular chart on the front outlines Beuys’ steadfast belief in a democracy (ja, or yes, for a Demokratie) over a state run by political parties (nein, or no, for a Parteienstaat). Reasons supporting his belief are listed in the upper and lower semicircles. In the handwritten diagram on the reverse, Beuys inscribed at top in German, “This is how to overcome the dictatorship of the political parties!”

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald K. Greenberg 252:1992, 253:1992

 

Joseph Beuys
German, 1921–1986

Felt Suit, 1970
felt

Issued in an edition of 100, this work was tailored after one of Joseph Beuys’ own suits but with the sleeves and legs lengthened. The artist wore the original in a performance event protesting the Vietnam War at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1971 (see image). This simple ensemble without buttons or buttonholes was intended to convey the idea of warmth. For Beuys, warmth was not only a physical state but also a spiritual idea and a catalyst for artistic and political evolution.

Museum Shop Fund 46:1993a–d

 

Joseph Beuys
German, 1921–1986

Urbis II, 1972
chalk on blackboard with wood stand

Words and arrows flow across the surface of this blackboard. Joseph Beuys used it during one of his legendary “chalk talks,” performances and lectures he gave throughout the 1960s and ’70s. Beuys understood his presentations on European politics and society as works of art— particularly as sculptures. He held a strong conviction that ideas, and not objects, were the most important form sculpture could take. Already notorious for his use of materials like felt and fat, Beuys turned to words to mold and express his creative goals.

Gift of the Donald L. Bryant Jr. Family Trust 189:2003

 

Cold War Painting: Realism and Abstraction in a Divided Germany

German artists of the postwar era had complicated relationships with the medium of painting. Immediately after World War II (1939–1945), the adoption of abstract painting in West Germany was framed as a progressive development toward democracy and freedom. In contrast, realism and figuration were initially seen as reminiscent of both Nazi-era (National Socialist) art and Soviet Socialist Realism, by then the state-sponsored art of East Germany.

Nevertheless, artists in both East and West Germany engaged with a variety of styles, exploring the potential of painting to address Germany’s past and present. Figuration was revisited and revised through fractured images that broke with historical conventions. As the Cold War (1947–1991) persisted into the 1970s and ’80s, artists questioned idealistic notions of the universal nature of abstraction, viewing it instead as a pointed critical and conceptual tool.

Germany’s physical and political division into East and West became a subject of art, as painters represented associated experiences of alienation and disorientation. While Socialist Realism remained the official style in East Germany, some artists worked outside government systems to create alternative narratives. As the 1980s came to a close, artists embraced an ironic and ambivalent stance on Germany’s present and future, unable to anticipate the country’s impending unification in 1990 and the seismic shifts that were to come in its wake.

 

Martin Kippenberger
German, 1953–1997

From the Nose Drops Misery into Your Porcelain, 1984
oil on canvas

In this multi-panel painting, Martin Kippenberger mixed references to fine and commercial art, politics, and nursery rhymes. In the center panel of the bottom row, the artist combined objectionable language with an illustration of a baseball bat encased in glass. Known for his biting provocations, Kippenberger filled his art with irony and satire. In this panel, the artist appears to incite potential acts of violence and promote the stereotyped role of the male aggressor. Kippenberger united disparate imagery in a painterly hodge-podge that reflects Germany’s increasingly complex cultural landscape near the end of the Cold War.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 60:2003a–j

 

A.R. Penck
German, 1939–2017

Fritze, 1975
acrylic on canvas

Seemingly abstract at first glance, Fritze contains a hidden figure. Narrow shoulders, a vast head, and golden eye rise from the colorful brushwork. In the upper right corner is a form resembling the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. In a divided Berlin, this sign of Germany’s former strength had become a symbol for the loss of a unified, national identity. Ralf Winkler, known by the pseudonym A.R. Penck, lived and worked in Dresden in East Germany until he was deported to the West in 1980.

Gift of the Honorable and Mrs. Thomas F. Eagleton, by exchange 13:2003

 

Rainer Fetting
German, born 1949

Van Gogh at the Berlin Wall, 1983
acrylic on canvas

In this vibrant, expressive nighttime scene, an elongated figure strides toward the Berlin Wall. A guarded concrete barrier, the wall separated East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989 both physically and ideologically. According to the painting’s title, the figure is none other than 19th-century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, an artist Rainer Fetting admired. Fetting co-founded an artist-run gallery in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of West Berlin, a protective space for alternative lifestyles. His work captured the atmosphere of West Berlin, where student protests and the LGBTQIA+ rights movement demanded societal change despite the constraints of the wall.

Gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 36:2003

 

Sigmar Polke
German, 1941–2010

The Computer Moves In, 1983
mixed media with manganese on fabric

In this work, artist Sigmar Polke appropriated imagery from a 1983 Time magazine cover that designated the computer “Machine of the Year,” in place of Time’s “Person of the Year.” The cover reproduced a sculpture by George Segal to highlight the increasing availability and advancement of computers in America, fed by the Cold War race toward technological development. Polke’s composition echoes a computer screen: from the fabric strips that frame the central image to the dot pattern and shimmering manganese shavings that recall the pixelation of early computer monitors.

Funds given by Dr. and Mrs. Alvin R. Frank and Friends Fund 262:1995

 

Gerhard Richter
German, born 1932

Ölberg, 1986
oil on canvas

Gerhard Richter dragged and scraped a spatula slowly over thickly applied paint, allowing layers of color to show through. What appears to be a spontaneous composition was laboriously worked by the artist to achieve complexity and depth. The dynamic and luscious movement of paint across the canvas relates to the active brushwork of American Abstract Expressionism practiced in the postwar era. However, Richter’s cool, methodical approach challenges the emotional charge and spiritual overtone of the American abstract tradition, creating a wry commentary on the heroic genius and expressive tendencies in American and West German art.

Museum Purchase 107:1987

 

Jörg Immendorff
German, 1945–2007

4 Muses, 1980
acrylic on canvas

Jörg Immendorff, working in West Germany, depicted a fictitious art studio shared by himself and three friends: Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, and A.R. Penck. Immendorff’s painting includes numerous references to the four artists’ works, personalities, and political beliefs. Penck, who lived in East Germany, is shown in the shadows, surrounded by imagery of Eastern Bloc communism. Baselitz, also from East Germany, is represented at a table supported by his characteristic inverted figures. Lüpertz, who moved to West Germany as a child, is well-known for engaging with Germany’s past. Here, he sits at a table that rests on heads with Germany’s flag covering their eyes.

Funds given by The Jordan Charitable Foundation 5:2003

 

Gerhard Richter, German, born 1932

Betty, 1988
oil on canvas

Gerhard Richter based this painting on a 1978 photograph of his 11-year-old daughter. Betty turns away from the viewer, possibly toward one of Richter’s own monochrome paintings, such as Gray Mirror, on view in Gallery 251. Richter fled East Germany in 1961 at age 29 and moved to Düsseldorf just before the Berlin Wall was erected. At the time, West Germany was struggling to define its postwar identity. Richter painted this work 27 years later in 1988, only a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Funds given by Mr. and Mrs. R. Crosby Kemper Jr. through the Crosby Kemper Foundations, The Arthur and Helen Baer Charitable Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Van Lear Black III, Anabeth Calkins and John Weil, Mr. and Mrs. Gary Wolff, the Honorable and Mrs. Thomas F. Eagleton; Museum Purchase, Dr. and Mrs. Harold J. Joseph, and Mrs. Edward Mallinckrodt, by exchange 23:1992

 

Blurring Boundaries: Globalism, Conceptualism, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

As the 1980s progressed and the Cold War (1947–1991) continued unabated, some German artists became disillusioned with traditional politics and art’s role in society. Artists moved beyond monumental paintings and established conventions, working in a variety of scales and media and addressing everyday and banal subjects. On November 9, 1989, the East German government announced that the border between East and West Germany was to be opened. With this pronouncement, the Berlin Wall, the symbol of German division, was breached and subsequently destroyed. Less than a year later, on October 3, 1990, Germany was reunified, and a new chapter of global history began.

The 1990s brought a renewed interest in experimental media, innovative techniques, and engagement with Germany’s new position on the international economic stage alongside its own complicated history. Employing alternative materials from concrete to papier-mâché, many artists used irony and humor to deny fixed meanings or legible narratives while blurring the boundaries of conventional art forms such as painting and sculpture.

Artists looked toward international trends, engaging with the diverse reality of a new world order. In the post-wall era, artists documented and commented on globalization, including the de-centering of global trade networks, expanding industry, and urban planning. Photography embraced digital methods to deconstruct cultural traditions, as information and technology rapidly evolved at the dawn of the new millennium.

 

Ulrich Görlich
German, born 1952

Hohenzollerndamm, 1990
photograph on aluminum

Ulrich Görlich is known for originating innovative experimental photo processes. Here, he reproduced a source photograph of a destroyed building on Hohenzollerndamm, a main street in the West Berlin neighborhood of Wilmersdorf. Görlich transferred the image to aluminum, giving the luminous ruins an eerie ghostlike quality—perhaps referring to the ability of photographs to preserve people and places that have vanished. However, dark drips of the medium make the photograph appear to dissolve like the decomposing building it depicts.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 43:2003

 

Katharina Fritsch, German, born 1956

Brain, 1987/89
painted plaster

Vase with Ship, 1987/88
screenprint on plastic

Madonna Figure, 1982
painted plaster

Katharina Fritsch explores the nature of human perception and experience through sculpture. Her alterations of scale, color, and material make otherwise familiar objects seem strange. Fritsch is inspired by aspects of her native German folklore as well as broader consumer culture, which she mines for references. While objects such as these often have autobiographical significance, Fritsch also intends them to hold general, collective meanings, both as symbols of popular culture and as triggers of our own memories and associations.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 41, 39, 40:2003

 

from left to right, top to bottom:

Wolfgang Laib, German, born 1950

A Wax Room for a Mountain, 1994
oil pastel and graphite on paper

Wolfgang Laib’s terraced ziggurat structure is enclosed by the outline of a mountain. Below, a rectangle resembling a doorway is flanked at either side by a boat—both universal symbols of passage. Since his youth, Laib has spent time in Southeast Asia and is deeply influenced by Eastern religions and philosophies. In his practice, he amplifies the intrinsic materials and processes found in nature. Here, Laib’s use of pastel, with its soft consistency and bright color, evokes warmth and spiritual energy.

 

Georg Herold, German, born 1947

422, 1990
photoreproduction with ink additions on paper

A configuration of 422 black, numbered dots is primarily clustered at the center of this page, though 14 are interspersed over the otherwise blank portions of the paper. This work belongs to a series of photoreproductions onto which Georg Herold applied only the final dot, in this case number 422. The other 421 were photocopied from previous drawings in the series. The composition alters after multiple photocopies as the dots become blurry and the numbers illegible, questioning the notion of originality.

 

Imi Knoebel, German, born 1940

Masonite Square (In Honor of Kasimir Malevich), 1991
pine and Masonite

To illustrate how art relates to labor, construction, and architecture, Imi Knoebel mounted Masonite board on a pine stretcher for this box-shaped work. By using prefabricated Masonite instead of paint on canvas—the traditional medium of monochrome painting—Knoebel did not proclaim the end of painting. Rather, he highlighted how reduction itself creates a new set of possibilities. The artist began using ordinary, humble building materials as a student of Joseph Beuys at the Düsseldorf Art Academy from 1964 to 1971.

 

Martin Kippenberger, German, 1953–1997

Untitled, from the series Hotel, 1992
graphite and ink

Martin Kippenberger made his first Hotel drawing after reading about Pablo Picasso’s sketches on hotel stationery. Satirizing the value attributed to the famous artist’s scribbles, Kippenberger created his own playful drawings on hotel paper, in this case from a hotel in Vienna. Though they appear to have been sketched quickly in a hotel room, many of the drawings were composed and drafted elsewhere. Their subject matter often stands in sharp contrast to the material comforts of luxury hotels and serves to critique aspects of this luxury-culture industry.

 

Georg Herold, German, born 1947

Untitled, 1987
buttons and thread on primed canvas

Georg Herold stitched buttons onto this canvas. Though they appear measured and ordered—like a code meant to be broken—there is no overarching pattern to the arrangement. By using unconventional materials and a random composition, Herold playfully upsets expectations of what can be considered an art object. This subversion also functions as a sarcastic comment on the ever-expanding contemporary art world, inviting viewers to actively question what they see and the context within which a work of art is displayed.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 68, 66, 49, 48, 62:2003

 

Beate Gütschow
German, born 1970

LS #17, 2003, printed 2012
chromogenic print

Reminiscent of a 17th-century Dutch landscape painting with a distant, low horizon and clusters of figures, this photograph is a meticulous simulation. Beate Gütschow digitally combined dozens of images of mundane, unrelated places, such as public parks and construction sites. This blending references earlier traditions of European landscape pictures, in which the countryside vistas depicted were also artificial fabrications. The printing information visible at the right deliberately erodes trust in the photographic illusion by hinting at the process of its construction.

Funds given by Jeffrey T. Fort, the St. Louis Friends of Photography, the Anne L. Lehmann Charitable Trust, Mr. Sam Weiss; and gift of Stephen Bunyard and Museum Purchase, by exchange 24:2012

 

Franz West
Austrian, 1947–2012

Pan Am Building, 1992
paint, papier-mâché, gauze, plaster, steel, and cardboard

A bulky papier-mâché pedestal introduces an oddly formal element to the display of this rather informal sculpture, which resembles a figural bust. Its title refers to the Pan Am Building, now the MetLife Building, completed in New York City in 1963. There is little visual correspondence between this work and the actual office tower, except for a certain verticality. However, like the formality of the artwork’s base, its title signals elements of both absurdity and global awareness characteristic of Franz West’s work.

Gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 448:2002a,b

 

Erwin Wurm
Austrian, born 1954

Untitled, 1990
glass case with dust

Erwin Wurm has questioned what constitutes a sculpture by using ephemeral materials like fruit or by presenting instructions for viewers to adopt a pose with props. Here, he exhibited an almost invisible substance—dust—on a wooden stand under a glass bell jar. At center, a clean, blank rectangle that looks like the imprint of a removed object conjures the notion of a sculpture through its absence. This humorous work can be seen to examine both the social habits of art viewing and means of artistic production.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 117:2003

 

Isa Genzken
German, born 1948

World Receiver Brüsselerstrasse, 1992
cast concrete and telescoping radio antenna

The familiar sight of a raised antenna transforms this concrete block into a silent radio. Isa Genzken used concrete to reference the cold, raw material of postwar German reconstruction. World Receiver Brüsselerstrasse is subtitled with the name of a street (Brüsselerstraße in Berlin) and an international city (Brüssel, or Brussels), evoking the global nature of radio transmission. Radio waves cannot be blocked by borders or walls, so radio programs became a site of propaganda transmission during the Cold War.

Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 42:2003

 

Frank Breuer
German, born 1963

Untitled (645 Liège Texaco), 1995
chromogenic print

Gift of the Honorable and Mrs. Thomas F. Eagleton 186:2003

Untitled (1278 Antwerp), 2004
chromogenic print

Funds given by the Honorable and Mrs. Thomas F. Eagleton 17:2007

Cologne-based photographer Frank Breuer captures the spaces of commerce, the sprawling effects of the global economy, and the anonymous, transitory elements of logistics, production, and trade. He began his career in Germany and Belgium photographing logos on roadside signage, facades of warehouses, and stacks of shipping containers. The intimate scale of his prints allows viewers to inspect immense, industrial landscapes as a whole from a removed position. His careful composition and subtle use of color reveal disarming beauty in the most overlooked places.

 

from left to right:

Joachim Brohm, German, born 1955
published by Galerie Fotohof, Salzburg, Austria

Untitled, from the portfolio Area, 1992, printed 2002
chromogenic print

Untitled, from the portfolio Area, 1996, printed 2002
chromogenic print

These photographs come from a portfolio that documents the development of a former industrial site in the Munich suburbs. Throughout the 1990s, Joachim Brohm photographed the area as it was demolished and remade into a residential development called Park City for upper-and-middle class urban families. Brohm was drawn to the intimacies of human experiences in seemingly impersonal cityscapes. In this portfolio, Brohm examined the repurposing of land at the city’s edge with particular interest in the aesthetic aspects of what some of his compatriots considered a desirable place to live.

Gift of the Honorable and Mrs. Thomas F. Eagleton 190, 191:2003

 

Simone Nieweg
German, born 1962

Cabbage Field, 1990, printed 2003
chromogenic print

Green cabbages have gone to seed behind rows of purple cabbages in the foreground of this photograph. Simone Nieweg explores the German tradition of Grabeland, a unique community gardening system practiced on the outskirts of urban centers. The particular subject of cabbage, a food often identified as a staple of the German diet, recurs throughout Nieweg’s work. The only evidence of this garden’s proximity to a modern city is the solitary housing complex nestled between two trees in the upper right corner of the composition.

Funds given by the Honorable and Mrs. Thomas F. Eagleton 169:2003

 

Günther Förg
German, 1952–2013

Rivoli I, 1989
oil on canvas

A mustard-yellow line bisects this canvas into
two long vertical rectangles of tangerine orange and dark violet blue. Merging painterly expression with geometric precision, Günther Förg used long, controlled brushstrokes to paint the broad areas of color. The artist often derived his geometric shapes from architectural elements found in modernist buildings, which he photographed.

Gift of the Honorable and Mrs. Thomas F. Eagleton 218:1996

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