The Leopold Museum opens “A RUSH OF COLOR”

German Expressionists from the Osthaus Museum Hagen in Vienna

More than 700 art enthusiasts flocked to the Vienna Leopold Museum on Thursday evening to attend the opening of the exhibition "A RUSH OF COLOR". The spectacular colors of German Expressionism, which the current exhibition is dedicated to, provided them with a welcome contrast to the mild but rainy autumn weather outside.

Masterpieces full of expressive power

From 9th October to 11th January 2016 a cross-section of the eminent collection of Expressionist works from the German Osthaus Museum in Hagen will be shown at the Leopold Museum. Masterpieces full of expressive power by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Alexej von Jawlensky, Lyonel Feininger, Gabriele Münter, Franz Marc, August Macke and many more will fascinate visitors with their unbridled colors. In the exhibition, the Expressionist artworks compete with the equally luminous walls, which have been painted in bright colors.
Erik O. Schulz, the mayor of Hagen, Elisabeth Leopold, Tayfun Belgin, the director of the Osthaus Museum Hagen, as well as the exhibition’s co-curator Franz Smola (Leopold Museum) gave introductions into the world of Expressionism during the opening ceremony.

Radically new, persecuted by the Nazis

While the Expressionists were drawn to the metropolis and derived inspiration from urban amusements, they also addressed and critically commented on the downsides of life in a city, on the prevailing poverty and the precarious social circumstances in working-class areas. According to Smola, they sought out their own paradises as a result, which they found at the Moritzburg ponds or at the faraway German colonies of Micronesia. Smola also recalled the dark times of the 1930s and 40s, when the works of the Expressionists were especially targeted by the National Socialists. For their radical newness and their strong expression of individual, inner emotions did not fit in at all well with the collective mass hysteria provoked by this terror regime.

Apocalyptic horsemen

Mayor Schulz quoted from a text written in 1910 by Franz Marc, a member of “Der Blaue Reiter”, the most important Munich artists’ association of these progressive times: "Today, art has embarked on paths that our fathers would never have dreamed of; you stand in front of these works as if in a daze and hear the horsemen of the apocalypse in the air; you sense an artistic tension all over Europe…". Schulz recalled this era of change, the individual attitude towards life of these artists from whom no forms were safe.

Leopold and Osthaus: celebrated collectors

Schulz particularly emphasized the similarities between the two celebrated collectors from Hagen and Vienna. The Hagen museum was founded by the collector and patron of the arts Karl Ernst Osthaus, while the Leopold Museum was brought into being by the collector and benefactor Prof. Rudolf Leopold. Like Osthaus, Leopold was an enthusiastic collector of expressive art. Schulz: "Leopold’s collection is legendary. I am sure that the presentation ‘A Rush of Color’ featuring these renowned exhibits will be a huge success especially in this museum."

A collector’s vision: immediacy and authenticity

Tayfun Belgin, the director of the Osthaus Museum Hagen, highlighted that, while Karl Ernst Osthaus’s collection is most famous for its eminent compilation of Impressionist and Expressionist works, his passion as a collector actually focused predominantly on Mediterranean art, on works from China and the Far East. This is a testament to the collector’s vision and his connection to the Dresden Expressionists, the artists of the association "Die Brücke". This group’s leading figure, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, carved the association’s maxim into wood in 1906: "Everyone who with immediacy and authenticity conveys that which drives him to create, belongs with us."

Home of expressive art

With its Schiele collection currently being complemented with this special exhibition, the collector and member of the board of directors of the Leopold Museum, Elisabeth Leopold, emphasized that the museum had now become a veritable “home of expressive art”. She further stressed that every painting featured in this presentation not only displays color, form and construction but also carries a special secret.

Musical interlude and opening guests

The cello quartet Rudolf Leopold provided the musical accompaniment to the opening ceremony. Vida Vujic, Konstantin Zelenin, Nikolaus Leopold and Rudolf Leopold played the dynamic meditation from the dance legend "Nobilissima Visione" by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), arranged for cello quartet by Rudolf Leopold, as well as the animated vivo from the Suite no. 3 by Alexander Kousnetzoff, a contemporary of Tchaikovsky’s. Representing the city of Hagen at the opening were not only the city’s mayor Schulz accompanied by his charming wife and the director of the Osthaus Museum Tayfun Belgin but also Sven Söhnchen, chairman of the culture committee of the city of Hagen, Christiane Bergfelder, chairlady of the association of friends of the Osthaus Museum as well as Dr. Andreas Lohmeyer, chairman of the board of directors of the association of friends of the Osthaus Museum. They celebrated together with the new directors of the Leopold Museum, Gabriele Langer and Hans-Peter Wipplinger, the exhibition’s organizer Dr. Otto Letze, the director of the Institute for Cultural Exchange in Tübingen, the co-curator of the exhibition Ivan Ristić, as well as Oleg Prodeus who created an impressive media installation especially for this presentation together with Virgil Widrich. Also in attendance were the chairman of the board of directors of the Leopold Museum Dir. Werner Muhm, the collectors and lenders Diethard and Waltraud Leopold, Barbara Grötschnig from the Vienna Insurance Group, the artist Peter Sengl, the publisher Christian Brandstätter, the architect Markus Spiegelfeld, the collector Prof. Toyoko Hattori and many others.

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