Radical and unconventional: “A RUSH OF COLOR” of Expressionism at the Leopold Museum

Shown for the first time in Austria: Masterpieces of German Expressionism from the Osthaus Museum Hagen

Vienna (OTS) – From 9th October, the Leopold Museum’s large-scale autumn exhibition "A RUSH OF COLOR. Masterpieces of German Expressionism" presents eminent masterpieces from the collection of the Osthaus Museum Hagen for the first time in Austria. Important paintings and graphic works by the main exponents of the Expressionist artists’ association "Die Brücke" (Dresden/Berlin), of the group "Der Blaue Reiter" (Munich) as well as by the solitary artist Christian Rohlfs illustrate the departure of German painting into Modernism.

Dissolution of the conventional perception of paintings

Hans-Peter Wipplinger, as of 1st October the Leopold Museum’s new Museological Director, emphasizes the high quality of the exhibition’s selection of works: "Among the presented works are veritable icons of German Expressionism, such as Alexej von Jawlensky’s ‘Girl’s Head with Red Turban and Yellow Agraffe’ created in 1912 and the 1913 work ‘Artists’ Group’ by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Owing to their radical concept of portrayed reality and their dissolution of the conventional perception of paintings, the emergence of Expressionist artworks on the stage of art history some 100 years ago still fills us with wonder today. Moreover, many of the exhibits, which are shown for the first time in Austria, convey the Expressionists’ image of man in the early 20th century".

140 eminent works of Expressionism

The exhibition "A Rush of Color" curated by the Leopold Museum’s curators Ivan Ristić and Franz Smola shows a selection of 30 paintings and approximately 80 works on paper featuring all the main exponents of German Expressionism from the Osthaus Museum Hagen. The presentation is supplemented with around 30 works from the collection of the Leopold Museum and the Leopold Private Collection.

Changed attitude towards life

In the exhibition’s accompanying catalogue Tayfun Belgin, the director of the Osthaus Museum Hagen, and Otto Letze, the director of the Institute for Cultural Exchange in Tübingen, observe: "The turn of the 19th into the 20th century marks a point of culmination which has shaped our present. Back then, the results of the Enlightenment’s efforts came into conflict with the challenges posed by the industrial era and led to a criticism of civilization and various reform movements. The visual testament to this development in Germany was a new pictorial language – the subjective presentation of a changed attitude towards life".

Happiness in nature and negative aspects of the metropolis

The main themes of the exhibition include the search for a lost paradise and the Expressionists’ attitude towards the metropolis, which oscillated back and forth between fascination and abhorrence. The young artists from Dresden created veritable paradises at the Moritzburg ponds as well as on the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas. Pechstein and Nolde even went a step further and embarked on South Sea adventures. These artists also adopted elements of so-called “primitive art” in their works. Based on the art of “indigenous peoples”, they distorted limbs and portrayed faces as impetuous masks. The exhibition’s curator Ivan Ristić highlights the fact that the fascination and trauma of life in a metropolis was another important theme for the German Expressionists. “Kirchner passionately carved the nocturnal hetaerae street of the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin into wood using the abstracting pictorial language he called ‘hieroglyphs’. The metropolitan visions captured in the graphic works of Conrad Felixmüller and Ludwig Meidner carry an almost apocalyptic force, while Max Beckmann presented the urban world as a stage for mysterious encounters and disconcerting imperfections”.

"Parallaxis" – Virgil Widrich’s media installation

The presentation at the Leopold Museum opens with the work “Parallaxis”, an extraordinary installation created especially for this presentation by the multi-award-winning Austrian media artist Virgil Widrich. In the completely darkened first exhibition room, the visitor’s gaze is directed to a hanging construction consisting of several round discs. Projected onto these discs are color patterns generated from the works shown in the exhibition, which merge into a “hallucinogenic-psychedelic” display, a veritable rush of color.
Hagen-Vienna-Hamburg: Ground-breaking artists from the Osthaus Museum at the Leopold Museum and the Ernst Barlach Haus
Vienna is the first stop for the presentation created in cooperation with the Osthaus Museum Hagen and the Institute for Cultural Exchange in Tübingen. The Leopold Museum offers the opportunity to compare the works of the German Expressionists to those of Egon Schiele, which are situated in close proximity. The Schiele collection of the Leopold Museum, the largest and most important compilation of works by this main exponent of Austrian Expressionism worldwide, is now on display in an impressive new presentation. The second stop for the exhibition of German Expressionism is going to be the Ernst Barlach Haus in Hamburg. From the spring of 2016 a selection of the masterpieces from the Osthaus Museum will be shown there together with works by the Expressionist sculptor Ernst Barlach under the heading "Departure into Color". According to Tayfun Belgin and Otto Letze, the presentations in Vienna and Hamburg afford the opportunity to “gain a new and rewarding perspective of the collection of the Osthaus Museum Hagen through a visual discourse with the works of the Austrian Expressionists and those of the Expressionist sculptor Ernst Barlach”.

A Rush of Color. The catalogue accompanying the exhibition

On the occasion of the exhibition, a catalogue edited by Tayfun Belgin and Otto Letze was published with Hirmer publishers entitled "A Rush of Color. Masterpieces of German Expressionism" with essays by Tayfun Belgin, Otto Letze, Franz Smola, Karsten Müller, Argiro Mavromatis and Ivan Ristić. The 120-page publication features 107 color illustrations (German, 21.5 x 27 cm, ISBN: 978-3-7774-2543-6). The book is available for 25.60 Euros at the Leopold Museum Shop.

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