From the “Brücke” artists via Andy Warhol to Joseph Beuys and Christo – the new presentation of the collection in the Lehmbruck Museum’s extension wing once more displays a wide range of works from the early 20th century to the present day. While expressionist works are displayed in the upper gallery spaces, the lower floors are dedicated to key phenomena of the post-war period.
Expressionist paintings, graphic works and sculptures
Returning to the original concept for this part of the building, the upper rooms now once more display outstanding expressionist paintings, graphic works and sculptures from the Museum’s collection. Expressionist paintings are contrasted with selected modern sculptures based on similar artistic concepts. The most striking examples here are the paintings of the artists’ groups “Brücke”, “Blauer Reiter”, “Sturm” and “Novembergruppe”.
In 1905 the architecture students Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff founded the artists’ group “Brücke” in Dresden, which marks the beginnings of modern art in Germany. Emil Nolde and Otto Mueller joined the group later. Their motto was to represent “directly and without bias” what “urges them to create”.
Six years later, “Blauer Reiter” was founded in Munich by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, who were later joined by Paul Klee, Gabriele Münter, Alexej Jawlensky and Heinrich Campendonk. In Berlin Herwarth Walden launched the magazine “Der Sturm” in 1910, thus establishing the term as a brand name for modern art in Germany. Among the “Sturm” artists were Thomas Ring and Johannes Molzahn from Duisburg. At the end of 1918, the “Novembergruppe” was formed in Berlin in response to the November Revolution. It united artists, architects, writers and composers from the most diverse styles and movements such as Rudolf Belling, El Lissitzky, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Max Pechstein and Bruno Taut.
From Arte Povera via Minimal Art and Pop Art to Joseph Beuys and Rauschenberg
Arte Povera, which refers to an art movement that uses simple materials, is represented by key works by Jannis Kounnelis, Reiner Ruthenbeck or Gilberto Zorio. American Minimal Art on the other side embodies the perfection of geometrical and often cubic forms, which were interpreted as a vital return to the original values of art. On display are pioneers of this movement like Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Frank Stella, Richard Artschwager – with Andy Warhol’s famous “Brillo Box” as its counter pole.
A special area is dedicated to Joseph Beuys and his circle around 1970. This artistic departure is associated with a sculptural practice that takes up symbolism and physicality in new forms. It revolves around Beuys’s installation “Raum 90.000 DM”. In addition to objects by Dieter Roth, Daniel Spoerri and Christo, the presentation includes the completely self-sufficient formulations of Antoni Tapies or Paul Thek. A reflection of this return of the body can also be found in the works of Kiki Smith.
The tour ends with Duane Hanson’s installation from the period of the Vietnam War, whose subject is sadly valid even today. It is flanked by sculptures by Robert Rauschenberg, Wolf Vostell or Olaf Metzell, all of which can certainly be seen as critical of society.
The exhibition also presents sculptures that visualise a playful joy of mechanics and movement and seem to invite participation. These include the model of Duisburg Fountain by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle, a rotating Henry Moore bronze, a musical sculpture by Joe Jones or a rocking horse by media pioneer Nam June Paik. The popular room “Réserve des enfants de Duisburg” (1993) by Christian Boltanski is also accessible again: an archive of favourite objects of children in Duisburg.