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About the Exhibition

Learn about the Museum's impressive German art collection, discover why this exhibition was created, and preview several works that have never before been on view.

The video features Brent Benjamin, the Barbara B. Taylor director, and exhibition cocurators Simon Kelly, Hannah Klemm, Molly Moog, and Melissa Venator.

Exhibition Timeline: 1812

Academics Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (the Brothers Grimm) publish their first collection of folk tales in this year. The brothers were among the first and best-known collectors of German and European folk tales, and they popularized traditional oral tales such as “Cinderella” (“Aschenputtel”), “The Frog Prince” (“Der Froschkönig”),  “Hansel and Gretel” (“Hänsel und Gretel”), “Rapunzel”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Rumpelstiltskin” (“Rumpelstilzchen”), “Sleeping Beauty” (“Dornröschen”), and “Snow White” (“Schneewittchen”).

A central painting in the exhibition, Caspar David Friedrich’s Sunburst in the Riesengebirge is a work of memory made 25 years after the artist visited the Riesengebirge Mountains on a hiking trip in 1810, just before the publication of the Grimms’ fairy tales. 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. Learn more about this work from the exhibition audio guide (stop 3).

Caspar David Friedrich, German, 1774–1840; Sunburst in the Riesengebirge, 1835; oil on canvas; 10 x 12 1/2 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Friends Fund, Museum Purchase, Director's Discretionary Fund, the Ann Goddard Trust, and the Third Wednesday Group 1:2019

Art activity: Handmade story book

Materials

• Paper of varying sizes, shapes, and colors
• Scissors
• Tape or glue
• Drawing and writing materials such as crayons, colored pencils, or markers
• String and hole punch (or a similar tool to poke a hole), or a stapler

Instructions

  1. Pile up different types of paper that you would like to use. Place the cover of your notebook on the bottom of the pile.
  2. Fold the pile in half so the cover is on the outside and all the other pages are sandwiched in between. If you have paper hanging over the sides of your cover, you can trim the edges if you like.
  3. Staple the center fold of your notebook to keep your pages intact, or poke two parallel holes near the center and weave string through them. Tie the string in a knot or bow to secure your notebook.
  4. Decorate your notebook cover by cutting and pasting paper to make designs or draw an image using crayons, colored pencils, or markers.
  5. Write your story or memory on the inside pages.

Make your own story book.

Exhibition Timeline: 1917

World War I (1914–1918) was a humiliating defeat that shattered the life of every German. The country lost vast territories and bore devastating reparation payments, and its citizens suffered debilitating deprivation. 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.

In this unconventional depiction of a passage from the New Testament, Jesus stops an angry mob from stoning a woman to death. The biblical story’s message of non-violence expresses artist 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. More details about Beckmann’s painting are available from the exhibition audio guide (stop 10).

Max Beckmann, German, 1884–1950; Christ and the Sinner, 1917; oil on canvas; 58 3/4 x 49 7/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Bequest of Curt Valentin 185:1955; © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Recipe: Wartime Cake

With a short list of ingredients and simple instructions, this cake, often made from rationed ingredients, provided solace during the difficult times of war. Recipe courtesy of the Food Network.

Ingredients

1 pound raisins
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 cups water
4 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions

1. Combine raisins, brown sugar, water, lard, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch tube pan. Stir together flour and baking soda. Fold dry ingredients into cooled raisin mixture. Spoon into greased pan and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
3. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Wartime cake

Exhibition Timeline: 1989

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.

In the sculpture shown, 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. The exhibition audio guide (stop 16) tells more about Genzken’s evocative work.

Isa Genzken, German, born 1948; World Receiver Brüsselerstrasse, 1992; cast concrete and telescoping radio antenna; 40 9/16 x 4 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection 42:2003; © Isa Genzken / David Zwirner Gallery, New York

Music: Songs inspired by change

Music captures the spirit of changing times. This playlist features songs that were popular in Germany in the late 80s, or that were inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall. Read more about the German music scene during this time.

German Art-Themed Give-Away

Enter to win items related to the exhibition, including a catalog of Max Beckmann’s paintings, a face mask featuring Franz Marc’s print Tiger, and other Museum swag.

In order to be eligible, your company must be a current CPP member with the Museum. One winner will be selected the first week in March.

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