The Savages of Germany. Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter Expressionists
Location: 2nd floor, Great Hall
The exhibition The Savages of Germany. Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter Expressionists, which will open at the Kumu Art Museum on 22 September, offers the Estonian audience a unique chance to view the most outstanding works of art of two pivotal art groups of the early 20th century. Through the oeuvre of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Vassily Kandinsky, August Macke, Franz Marc, Alexej von Jawlensky and others, the exhibition focusses on the innovations introduced to the art scene by expressionists. Expressionists dedicated themselves to the study of major universal themes, such as the relationship between man and the universe, via various deeply personal artistic means.
Die Brücke (“The Bridge” in English) was a German artistic group founded in 1905 in Dresden. The artists of Die Brücke abandoned visual impressions and idyllic subject matter (typical of impressionism), wishing to describe the human inner world, full of controversies, fears and hopes. Colours in their paintings tend to be contrastive and intense, the shapes deformed, and the details enlarged. Besides the various scenes of city life, another common theme in Die Brücke’s oeuvre was scenery: when travelling through the countryside, the artists saw an opportunity to depict man’s emotional states through nature. The group disbanded in 1913.
Der Blaue Reiter (“The Blue Rider” in English) was another expressionist group and was active in the years 1911–1914. It centred around Russian emigrants (Vassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky and others) and local German artists (Franz Marc, August Macke and others). The members were united in their desire to express topics related to the universe, the soul and the world of spirits. Strong colours were important in their work, and each colour was assigned a certain spiritual or symbolist association. The works of both of the groups earned acclaim in Europe and their members are considered the most outstanding representatives of expressionism, one of the most significant artistic movements ever.
In addition to showing the works of the main authors of German expressionism, the exhibition attempts to shed light on expressionism as an influential artistic movement of the early 20th century which left its imprint on the Estonian art of the post-World War I era. Ado Vabbe, Peet Aren, Nikolai Triik, Konrad Mägi and others experienced the German art scene directly during their studies and travels, but also via expressionist influences in modern literature, drama and elsewhere. The context of the exhibition allows the viewer to experience multi-layered developments in expressionism via original works of art by Estonian artists, enriching their understanding of expressionism as a dynamic, versatile and vital phenomenon covering a large geographical area.
The exhibition has been made possible thanks to collaboration with a number of German art museums and galleries. The expressionist works of art by Estonian authors come from the collections of the Art Museum of Estonia, Tartu Art Museum and a private collection.
In collaboration with: Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle; Westhoff Fine Arts
Detmar Westhoff (Westhoff Fine Arts), Ralph Keuning (Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle), Cora Faßbender, Liis Pählapuu (Kumu)
Detmar Westhoff and Eva Knels (Westhoff Fine Arts, assistant), Liis Pählapuu (Kumu Art Museum)
Exhibition design: Terje Luure
Graphic design: Mari Kaljuste
Museum de Fundatie Zwolle, Westhoff Fine Arts
Akzo Nobel Baltics AS, Telia Eesti AS, Kaubamaja AS, Goethe-Institut Estland