Leopold Museum Presents New Exhibition "German Expressionism"

Lifestyle & TravelMore+ ♦ Published: June 26, 2024; 10:08 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Leopold Museum in Vienna is opening a new focus exhibition entitled "German Expressionism". This exhibition brings together works by important artists such as Alexej von Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paula Modersohn-Becker, and Gabriele Münter and places them in an imaginary dialog with Austrian Expressionists.

The Leopold Museum showcases a focus exhibition titled "German Expressionism" as part of their permanent "Vienna 1900. The Dawn of Modernism" exhibition. The photo shows works by Paula Modersohn-Becker and August Macke. / Picture: © © Leopold Museum, Wien/Lisa Rastl

The exhibition presents 17 masterpieces from renowned private collections and the Leopold Museum collection. Visitors can admire important works by artists such as Lovis Corinth, Marianne von Werefkin, Max Pechstein, Erich Heckel, and August Macke. These works offer a comprehensive insight into the various forms of expression of German Expressionism in the first two decades of the 20th century.

Hans-Peter Wipplinger, Director of the Leopold Museum, emphasizes the significance of the exhibition: "German Expressionism is characterized by the expressive reduction of the means of painting and a radical simplification of form and color. Impulses from the formal repertoire of non-European, indigenous art, and regional folk art as well as borrowings from the French avant-garde complete the picture of this multifaceted art movement. Both German and Austrian Expressionists radically questioned and expanded the concept of beauty."

Background to Expressionism

The term Expressionism was first used in Germany in 1911 in the foreword to the catalog for the 22nd exhibition of the Berlin Secession. The movement emerged as a reaction to the negative side effects of economic progress and industrialization. These developments led to social conflicts and an alienation from nature and spirituality. Expressionist artists sought originality, inwardness, and free expression by turning away from Impressionism and conservative academic traditions.

Artists from the Brücke group, such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Erich Heckel, rebelled against the traditional depiction of the outside world. They wanted to create art that "directly and unadulteratedly reproduces what urges us to create" (Kirchner, 1906). The artists of the Blaue Reiter, including Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, sought a new inwardness and an intense colorfulness that increasingly detached itself from the subject matter.

Highlights of the exhibition

The focus exhibition shows works by the Dresden Artists' Association Brücke and the Munich group Der Blaue Reiter. Paula Modersohn-Becker, an outstanding representative of German Expressionism, is represented with five works. Her painting "Seated Girl with Sheep by a Pond" from 1903 and the "Portrait of an Italian Girl" from 1906 are particular highlights of the exhibition.

Another important work is "Walchensee Landscape" by Lovis Corinth, a late work that shows his shift from Impressionism to Expressionism. Alexej von Jawlensky is also represented with impressive portraits of women such as "Mädchen mit grüner Stola" (1909/10) and "Großer Frauenkopf (Manola)" (1913). Wassily Kandinsky's "Kallmünz" and Gabriele Münter's "Young Lady with a Large Hat (Polish Woman)" are further highlights that illustrate the diverse forms of expressionism.

Comparison with Austrian Expressionism

The exhibition also allows a comparison between German and Austrian Expressionism. Works by Austrian artists such as Richard Gerstl, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, and Herbert Boeckl are on display at the Leopold Museum. This spatial proximity offers a unique view of the country-specific characteristics of this art movement. The Viennese artists' associations such as the Secession and the Hagenbund cultivated an intensive exchange with the European art scene and presented pioneering artists such as Franz von Stuck, Auguste Rodin, and Ferdinand Hodler.

Opening hours and further information

The focus exhibition "German Expressionism" can be seen on level 0, room 10a of the Leopold Museum. From June to August, the exhibition is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, including public holidays. From September to May, it is open daily except Tuesdays from 10 am to 6 pm, and also on public holidays.

Visit this unique exhibition and immerse yourself in the multifaceted world of German Expressionism, made possible by the generous support of international private collectors.

Leopold Museum