Rarely-seen highlights from the Royal Collection of Graphic Art take centre stage in this spring exhibition about one of the most hectic chapters in the history of German art. Featuring works by e.g. Kandinsky, Klee, Kirchner, Beckmann, Grosz, and Nolde the exhibition outlines the contours of German Modernism and its earnest pursuit of truth and identity. To reinvent art! In some ways these words sum up the credo of the entire European avant-garde. The artists sought for answers to a range of questions: What is true art? What should it look like? And what should it be about? In Germany the discussion took on different nuances. Before and after the birth of the nation in 1871 the issue of a German identity was widely discussed. Not just in the inner circle of power, but also among philosophers, historians, and, of course, artists.
Homestead and outlook
The new exhibition at the Royal Collection of Graphic Art focuses attention on a period where Germany was one of the leading epicentres of the art world; a time when modernism truly gained ground and gave rise to a prolific range of modes of expression. The exhibition traces the artists’ attempts at answering questions about art and identity right from the 1890s, with their enthusiasm for the philosopher Nietzsche, up to the 1930s, when the nation was headed for disaster. From Käthe Kollwitz’ compassionate depictions of the German people as represented by the working classes to Expressionism’s and Abstract art’s treatment of nationality and the universal nature of art. Among artists the endeavour to define the nation’s cultural identity gave rise to a sense of commitment that continually oscillated between the issues of class, being rooted in one’s homestead, and an international outlook.
Chronology and context
The exhibition presents more than 70 drawings, watercolours, and graphic works from the Royal Collection of Graphic Art and focuses on artists who were central figures and had considerable influence on the art scene of Germany during the period, regardless of whether they themselves were of German descent. The presentation reflects the chronology of the works; the exhibits have been divided into different periods and are shown in five exhibition rooms that juxtapose art with other epoch-defining cultural and historical events in Germany at the time.
Source: The National Gallery of Denmark