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Spaightwood Galleries

120 Main Street, Upton MA 01568-6193; 800-809-3343; email

Last updated: 6/23/2019
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“German Expressionist Prints and Drawings: Portraits and Self-Portraits”

German Expressionism: Portraits / Lovers / Society

"Käthe Kollwitz and German Expressionism" featured over fifty works by Käthe Kollwitz plus additional works by Josef Albers,
Ernst Barlach, Rudolf Bauer, Max Beckmann, Peter Behrens, Heinrich Campendonck, Marc Chagall, Lovis Corinth, Otto Dix,
Lyonel Feininger,Conrad Felixmuller, Hans Fronius, Alfons Graber, Otto Greiner, Georg Grosz, Erich Heckel, Hannah Hoch,
Karl Hofer, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ludwig Meidner, Edvard Munch,
Gabrielle Munter, Heinrich Nauen, Emile Nolde, Max Pechstein, Hilla von Rebay, Georges Rouault, Rudolf Schlichter,
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Siegfried Schott, Georg Tappert, Wilhelm Wagner, and others.

German Expressionist Drawings

The Russians: Chagall, Sonia Delaunay, Goncharova, Larionov, and Malevich
The title of this show is actually a misnomer; a more accurate title would indicate that this is the art that the Kaiser hated, that the right-wingers who helped to bring about the downfall of the Weimar Republic hated, and that the militarists who ultimately threw their support to the Nazis hated. And yet, it is still amisnomer: in a sense, the term German Expressionism really means Modernist works done in Germany and Austria from the late 19th century until the Nazis took control, after which the works went underground, but, in many cases, continued to be made until the artist making them died. Just as French Impressionism reallymeant Modernist works made in France by people who had in common only their rejection of the official art that preceded them and that dominated the salons when the artists whom we now call the Impressionists began trying to show their works. It spawned in due time other movements like Post-Impressionism, Pointilism, the Nabis, the Symbolists, and ultimately the modernists who turned away from these variants of their predecessors and gave birth to Cubism, Fauvism, and Surrrealism; so the German Modernists had varied interests: The artists of the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) Group—Kandinsky, Klee, Munter, Marc, and Macke—were moving toward abstraction, the artists of Die Brücke (the Bridge), led by Erich Heckel, E. L. Kirchner, Max Pechstein, Emil Nolde, and Karl Schmidt-Rottlff were rejecting their immediate predecessors and trying to create an art that linked the great German artists of the Renaissance, especially Dürer, whose masterful woodcuts seemed the perfect vehicle for a new renaissance of German art, with an art for the present and the future. The first World War, which seemed to artists like Kokoschka and Dix to offer a chance to see heroism in action and perhaps to be heroic (Dix was a machine gunner, Kokoschka was a cavalry officer), quickly led instead to horror and mental breakdowns, and the aftermath of the war led to cynicism and disgust at the society that replaced the autocratic rule of the Kaiser. The Dadaists (including Hoch, Schlicter, and Grosz as well as Duchamp, Arp, and Picabia)) began with a feeling of disgust and hatred for the war and moved on to reject the values that allowed it to occur, nationalist politics and a culture of materialism. They rejected the conventions of their society and the art that had nurtured and sustained that society, cultivating a sense of the absurd and seeking artistic techniques to embody their contempt for it. The Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) group, including Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Rudolf Schlichter, and Georg Tappert, hoped through their art to change their society by, as Grosz wrote, convincing "the world that it was ugly, sick, and mendacious." Kollwitz and Barlach, whose work predated all of these movements, yet agreed politically and artistically in the need to hold a mirror up to society so that it might see how much it needed to change itself. Artists like Meidner and Hofer do not easily fit into these groups, yet are clearly of their time, Hofer seeking symbolic forms to suggest the possibility of a more ideal life and the reality of approaching disasters, Meidner imagining the apocaltpse to come and portraying the passionate intensity of those who would bring it about.

Selcted Bibliography: Stephanie Barron and Wolf-Dieter Dube, ed., German Expressionism: Art and Society (NY: Rizzoli, 1997); Stephanie Barron, et al, German Expressionist Prints and Drawings. The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for Expressionist Studies, Vol. 1 (LA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989); Stephanie Barron, ed, German Expressionism 1915-1925: The Second Generation (LA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988); Frances Carey and Anthony Griffiths, The Print in Germany 1880--1933: The Age of Expressionism (London: British Museum, 1984, 1993); Stephanie D'Allessandro, et al, German Expressionist Prints: The Marcia and Granvil Specks Collections (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2003); Bruce Davis, German Expressionist Prints and Drawings. The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for Expressionist Studies, Vol. 2: Catalogue of the Collection (LA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art / Prestel, 1989);Bruce Davis, German Expressionist Prints and Drawings: The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies Elvejhem Museum of Art, The Graphic image: German Expressionist Prints (Madison: Elvejhem Museum of Art, 1983); Reinhold Heller, Brücke: German Expressionist Prints from the Granvil and Marcia Specks Collection (Evanston: Mary and Leight Block Gallery, Northwestern Uninversity, 1988); Orrel P. Reed Jr., German Expressionist Art: The Robert Gore Rifkind Collection—Prints, Drawings, Illustrated Books, Periodicals, Posters (Los Angeles: Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, 1977); Andrew Robison, ed., German Expressionist Prints from the Collection of Ruth and Jacob Kainen (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1985); Serge Sabarsky, Graphics of the German Expressionists (Mt. Kisco NY: Moyer Bell Ltd, 1984); Peter Selz, German Expressionist Painting (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957, 1974); Horst Uhr, Masterpeices of German Expressionism at the Detroit Institute of Arts (NY: Hudson Hills Press, 1982); Shane Weller, ed, German Expressionist Woodcuts (NY: Dover, 1994).
Please scroll down: after long text passages there is a large space before the illustrations.
Ernst Barlach (German, 1870-1938), Der Erste Tag / The First Day (Schult 164, Davis-Rifkind 98: 1). Original woodcut, 1920-21. Published in Die Wandlungen Gottes / The Transformations of God, plate 1. 121 impressions on japon signed in the lower right corner. Handling creases lower left margin, several small chips at margin, not affecting. Exhibited in Expressionnisme Europeen at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1970. Image size: 257x359mm. Price: $3250.
Willy Jaeckel (German, 1888-1944), Selbstbildness / Self-Portrait . Original etching, c. 1921. A fine impression on paper watermarked "JW Zandsers 1921," ours is a pencil--signed impression on a large sheet of wove paper measuring 405x285mm. Jaeckel was an important printmaker. The Riffkind Collection of German Expressionist Prints at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art contains 69 of his prints. Image size: 205x157mm. Price: $1250.
Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867-1945), Self Portrait (Kl. 155, von Knesebeck 171 vi: b). Original etching with burnisher, 1921. States I-V show Kollwitz making corrections; state VI is the final state. Von Knesebeck describes state A as proofs before the first edition, which was published in two parts: 30 impressions on imperial Japan paper (State B) and 120 signed and numbered impressions on either ribbed laid paper or on velin, as ours, which is signed in pencil lower right and numbered 30/120 lower left (State C). Ours is a superb impression with the blacks printing very darkly both on the shoulder and the hand supporting her head. One of Kollwitz' greatest self-portraits, another impression of this print was acquired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts several years ago. Like ours, their impression has a very small paper flaw just above the hair center right by the platemark (perhaps impurities in the paper mix). State D consists of editions since 1947 with damage in the lower plate. Image size: 217x266mm. Price: SOLD.
Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867-1945), Self Portrait (Kl. 155 vii/vii, von Knesebeck 171 vi: b). Original etching with aquatint, 1921. Published after 1947 by von der Becke with his two-line Muenchen22 drystamp lower right. A very rich impression of this important self-portrait with very good plate tone. Printed in dark bistre ink. One of Kollwitz' greatest self-portraits, another impression of this print was acquired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts several years ago. Image size: 217x266mm. Price: $3750.
Erich Heckel (German, 1883-1970), Liegende / Reclining Woman (Dube 259 II, Davis-Riffkind 1034, Brücke 16, Graphic Image 24). Original woodcut, 1913, revised 1925. Edition: a few signed impressions pulled in 1913; "in 1925 he created a new edition for the luxurious art periodical, Ganymed. . . . For this, the original jigsawed forms printing in red were replaced, and they thus appear slightly different in configuration from those of the original printing." There was a deluxe edition handprinted by Heckel and a regular edition of unknown size. Image size: 181x107mm. Price: $2950.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880-1938), Bildniss Carl Sternheims / Portrait of Carl Sternheim (Davis-Rifkind 1464, Dube 328 C). Original lithograph, 1916. Published in a deluxe edition of 75 numbered exemplars on Butten paper for Der Bildermann (1916), a German art periodical that commissioned and published original lithographs. Our impression is from the regular eition from Der Bildermann (1916). One of the greatest portraits of German Expressionism. Image size: 300x202mm. Price: $3250.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880-1938), Man with parrot (Dube 814 ii, Davis-Rifkind 1478). Original woodcut for Neben der Heerstrasse / Near the Military Road (Zurich and Leipzig: Verlag von Grethlein & Co, 1923. Image size: 118x78mm. Price: $1250.
Georg Tappert (German, 1880-1957), Nude. Original pencil drawing, c. 1923-33. This drawing seems to use the same model who appears in a 1927 etching, "Liegander Mädchenakt auf einem Tuch" (Wietek 228). Our drawing is annotated on the verso and signed by Tappert's widow, Annalise ("von Georg Tappert / Annalise Tappert"). See Wietek's 1980 monograph. Elisabeth was Tappert's second wife; she died in 1929. Image size: 230x150mm. Price: $4750.
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, (German, 1884-1976), Fraukopf / Head of a Woman (Schapire W191, Davis-Riffkind 2551). Original woodcut, 1916. Edition: 600 unsigned impressions on wove paper published in Deutsche Graphiker der Gegenwart (Leipzig, 1920) with a printed text verso giving title, artist, and identifying it as an "originalholzschnitt." A very good, clean impression of this important print, one frequently illustrated in studies of German Expressionist printmaking such as Shane Weller, ed, German Expressionist Woodcuts (NY: Dover, 1994) and Serge Sabarsky, Graphics of the German Expressionists (Mt. Kisco NY: Moyer Bell Ltd, 1984). Image size: 275x180mm. Price: $3600.
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, (German, 1884-1976), Madchen mit Zopfen / Young woman with pigtails (Schapire W200, Davis-Rifkin 2554). Original woodcut, 1917. Edition: 110 impressions on wove paper for the first edition published in the deluxe art review, Das Kunstblatt, in 1918, of which ours is one. Image size: 216x150mm. Price: $3600.
Herman Max Pechstein (German, 1881-1955), Kopf / Head (Fechter 149). Original woodcut, 1920. Edition: c. 1000 impressions (of which this is a very rich one) published in Fritz Gurlitt's Almanach 1920, an annual of German Expressionist art published from 1919 to 1921. A masterpiece of German Expressionist printmaking. Image size: 104x81mm Price: $1750.
Max Beckmann (German, 1884-1950), Sarika mit Zigarette (Hofmaier 229). Original lithograph on Japon paper measuring 775x491mm, 1922. Edition of 20, signed lower right between right hand and left elbow. Very scarce on this paper. Image size: 614x366mm. Price: $8500.
Lovis Corinth (German, 1859-1925), Woman with a cat (Schwartz 109). Original drypoint, 1912. One of c. 50 signed impressions of this important transitional work, ours is annotated in pencil below the lower left corner of the etching "IV," perhaps signifying that this is a trial proof on vellum before the edition. A superb impression with rich detail in the dark areas; unobtrusive diagonal crease running from the left margin to the blank area underneath the figure seen from the rear next to the seated woman. One of the most important German Impressionist painters, Lovis Corinth gradually became more and more expressionist in his art early in the second decade of the 20th century. Originally fiercly hostile to expressionism, he underwent a major transformation, perhaps reflected in the brooding quality of his work, and was welcomed by the German Expressionists. After Hitler came to power, his works were posthumously declared decadent and they were exhibited with the other German Expressionists declared morally unfit by the Nazis and burnt in the Nazi bonfires. Corinth's works have been shown frequently in American and European museums and galleries since the end of World War II. Image size: 220x160mm. Price: $3750.
Heinrich Campendonck (German, 1889-1957), "Sitzender mann / sitting man" (Davis-Rifkin 389). Original woodcut, 1919. 1000 proofs for Das Kunstblatt. This print was featured in the catalogue of the Bucheim Collection and was shown as part of a circulating exhibition of the Collection (we saw it at the Elvejhem Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin–Madison) . Image size: 216x150mm. Price: $1750.
Ludwig Meidner (German, 1884-1966), Bildnis Eugene George / The Occultist (Davis-Rifkind 1932). Original drypoint, 1920. A posthumous impression on wove paper. Stamped on the verso: Nachlass Ludwig Meidner and inscribed III / 64. Printed by Wolfgang Blauert with the approval of Meidner's estate. Illustrated Grochowiak, pl. 135. Image size: 195x177mm. Price: $1500.
Ludwig Meidner (German, 1884-1966), Frau Bella Chagall (Grochowiak 1360, Davis-Rifkin 1938). Original etching, 1922. Edition unknown; ours is a brilliant signed impression dated 1922. The Rifkin Collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is annotated "Nachlass Ludwig Meidner" and signed by the printer; ours is may be an artist's proof of a work that was not editioned during Meidner's lifetime. Meidner was a friend of the Chagalls, and his portrait of Bella Chagall as a flapper is a charming testimonial to their friendship. Illustrated Grochowiak, pl. 136. Image size: 177x127mm. Price: $2500.

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