MASTERPIECES OF EXPRESSIONISM
20 February - 9 June 2019
German expressionism is seldom exhibited in Sweden. It is therefore wonderful to be able to present the exhibition Back to Paradise, which includes expressionist masterpieces from the Häuptli Collection at the Aargauer Kunsthaus in Switzerland and the collection of the Osthaus-Museum Hagen in Germany. These two collections contain outstanding works from the expressionist period of German art, between 1905 and 1938.
During the nineteenth century, the exponential growth of European cities in the wake of industrialisation saw greater social mobility, something that together with technical advancements accelerated the pace of life and led to rising class tensions. In response to a
longing for alternative social models, a number of reform movements arose, often international in character. The younger generation rebelled, seeking to pave the way for freedom. In the early years of the twentieth century, many artists liberated themselves from the straitjacket of academic tradition and began to express this zeitgeist, seeking new ways of living predicated on the social upheavals of the age.
The more rapidly things changed, the stronger the yearning for a new paradise burned; a paradise that the artists appeared to find in nature and alien cultures. The Die Brücke (The Bridge) group, which included a number of the artists exhibited here, formed in Dresden in early
summer 1905 and proved to be the springboard for a fundamental change in German art. With their new emotionally charged school of painting, they sought not only to provoke bourgeois tastes but also to re-examine accepted concepts of beauty. Another group formed in Munich, under the name Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). These artists too broke the boundaries of painting and representation, beginning a re-evaluation of ‘primitive’ art based on new theoretical principles.
All of the artists exhibited in Back to Paradise would go on to be classed as Entartete Kunst
(degenerate art) by the Nazi regime in Germany.
Carl Milles, founder of Millesgården, was himself inspired by the classical art of Rome and
Greece and was long opposed to modern art. On a trip to Munich in 1937, he visited the two notorious exhibitions, one of officially approved works and one featuring the seized, degenerate art – Entartete Kunst. Following this visit, he wrote to his wife Olga, stating that, having seen the two exhibitions, his heart rejoiced to see what the regime had banned. For this reason alone,
it is important to hold this exhibition at Millesgården; it demonstrates how society’s attitudes to art have changed, something that today may be more important than ever to bear in mind.
Artists: Cuno Amiet, Max Beckmann, Walther Bötticher, Conrad Felixmüller, Lyonel Feninger, Erich Heckel, Alexej von Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Liebermann, August Macke, Franz Marc, Ludwig Meidner, Gabriele Münter, Otto Mueller, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein, Christian Rohlfs, Karl Schmidt Rottluff.