Before the Fall: German and Austrian Art of the 1930's

8 March–28 May 2018

Exhibition Overview

Self-Portrait with Horn

"Before the Fall: German and Austrian Art of the 1930s," is an exhibition devoted to the development of the arts in Germany and Austria during a decade marked by economic crisis, political disintegration, and social chaos.

This exhibition, comprised of nearly 150 paintings and works on paper, will trace the many routes traveled by German and Austrian artists and will demonstrate the artistic developments that foreshadowed, reflected, and accompanied the beginning of World War II. Central topics of the exhibition will be the reaction of the artists towards their historical circumstances, the development of style with regard to the appropriation of various artistic idioms, the personal fate of artists, and major political events that shaped the era.

The show assembles key works by leading artists such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Oskar Kokoschka, and Alfred Kubin, and artists less familiar to audiences in the United States including Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Albert Paris Gütersloh, Karl Hubbuch, Richard Oelze, Franz Sedlacek, Josef Scharl, and Rudolf Wacker, who will each be represented by small groups of significant works. Several of the artists being shown have never before been exhibited in the United States. Among the important loans to the exhibition will be Max Beckmann’s Self-Portrait with Horn from 1938, Oskar Kokoschka’s Portrait of Thomas G. Masaryk from 1935-36, Richard Oelze’s uncanny Expectation from 1935-36, and Felix Nussbaum’s searing Self-Portrait in the Camp from 1940 which vividly captures the horror to come. The exhibition will also feature photographic portraits by Helmar Lerski and August Sander.

(Photo: Max Beckmann, Self-Portrait with Horn, 1938, oil on canvas © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn)

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