The Gemeentemuseum’s collection includes outstanding works from three major periods of modern German art: the early twentieth century, the post-war era and the present day. Pieces by Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej Jawlensky, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Heinrich Campendonck, Paula Modersohn-Becker, George Grosz and Max Pechstein provide a clear and fascinating picture of the German Expressionist movement of the early twentieth century. The Expressionists used colour and line to depict their own perceptions and emotional experience of the outside world. Working in the turbulent decades around the First World War, it is hardly surprising that their work is so frequently socially engaged and political in nature. But they also rose to the challenge of other subjects, such as man in the (usually depressing) urban environment, the female nude, nature and portraits of themselves and other people. Their highly personal approach to this subject led them to use a range of media, choosing the materials which best enabled them to express their inner feelings. As DLD Collection reveals, graphic techniques were an essential element of early German Expressionism. The exhibition also includes works by artists such as Kurt Schwitters and Jean Arp, who approach Expressionism in a rather more abstract way.Sensuous and crude
The second period is represented by the work of painters like Markus Lüpertz, Jörg Immendorf, Georg Baselitz and A.R. Penck. They were Neo-Expressionists, who rebelled against the dominant artistic movements of the 1960s. They revisited everything that had been thrown overboard – subjectivity, the open display of emotion, autobiographical elements, German history, symbolism and narrative – using a technique that is frequently sensuous and/or crude and visceral. A separate gallery has been reserved for Gunther Forg’s ‘Hague Paintings’, created in 1988 especially for the Gemeentemuseum. Contemporary German art is illustrated by leading artists of today, such as Daniel Richter, David Schnell, Sebastian Gögel, Thorsten Brinkmann and Anton Henning, whose vigour and eclectic use of images, motifs and quotations are injecting new energy into the nation’s painting and sculpture. Despite the distinctiveness of their approach to painting and sculpture, this exhibition demonstrates that they cannot be viewed in isolation from the on-going German tradition.