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06-22-12

In the Network of Modernism. Kirchner, Braque, Kandinsky, Klee ... Richter, Bacon, Altenbourg and their critic Will Grohmann

An exhibition presented by the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
27 September 2012 to 6 January 2013

Venue: Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Dresden
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mondays: closed

He was a key figure in the European art world for more than five decades, and, for anyone interested in artists like Kirchner, Kandinsky or Klee, his name surfaces again and again: Will Grohmann (1887–1968), one of the most influential German art critics of the 20th century. Coinciding with the 125th anniversary of his birth, the Staatliche Kunstsamm¬lungen Dresden (SKD) is dedicating the first ever major exhibition in his honour, held in his hometown of Dresden. The exhibition will run for three months starting on 27 September 2012. It presents the activities of the critic through a selection of some 220 artworks by those artists he championed. The spectrum ranges from the Die Brücke to Art Informel via the Bauhaus and many other movements in between. Multitouch media stations will allow each visitor to trace the global network that the art critic built up around him and harnessed to promote ‘his’ artists. Visitors will thus be able to explore the stories behind the works on show and the vital role Grohmann played in them.

Will Grohmann and the artists – the research project
Will Grohmann’s professional biography stands as a shining example of the potential of art criticism to bring about change in the 20th century. His reviews shaped art history, his monographs and catalogues raisonné remain standard texts to this day. He discovered artists and promoted them. As a dynamic intermediary between the various parties involved (artists, gallery owners, museums, the media and the public), he shaped the perception of modern art.
He exerted his influence and used the media forms available to him to reach a public hungry for the new and enthusiastic about the avant-garde. Working from Dresden directly after the First World War, he established contact with various figures in the art scene and collaborated with renowned Dresden galleries of modern art: Richter, Arnold and Neue Kunst Fides, to name but a few. He was in close personal contact with artists formerly of Die Brücke (Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff) and became an advocate of the Bauhaus from the outset in the early 1920s. He curated and co-organized such important exhibitions as the International Art Exhibition Dresden in 1926, the seminal Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstausstellung (or General German Art Show) in 1946, also held in Dresden, documenta I, II and III, as well as the biennales of Venice, São Paulo and Paris. As a result, he had a decisive stake in the dissemination of avant-garde art around the world.
An extensive research project lasting several years has evaluated the critic’s unique, richly documented personal collection of writings, which is now held at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. As part of the project, some 80,000 documents were examined, including letters addressed to more than 2500 people. This body of correspondence and his scores of newspaper articles and other writings are a testament of Grohmann’s global network of contacts in the art world, which he built up and cultivated for over more than half a century.
 
The exhibition and its use of multimedia technology
The exhibition features paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, photographs and one video work by modern artists, including numerous important loans from public and private collections in Europe and North and South America. The show will also include many works from both Grohmann’s private collection and the city of Dresden’s collection of high modernist art, which was almost entirely lost as a result of the Nazi ‘Degenerate Art’ campaign. Grohmann was pivotal in compiling the latter; these particular works are going on show in Dresden again for the first time since 1933, when the Nazis rose to power. Arranged according to theme, the artworks in the show shed light on the successful nature of Grohmann’s influence in all its facets, in his capacity as an art critic and networker of modernism.
The exhibition makes use of the possibilities of new media in conveying to visitors the hidden ways in which the artists, works and contexts relate to each other. An interactive media concept plan has been drawn up in a joint project between the SKD, Technische Universität Dresden (Departments of Digital Media and Art History) and the Dresden University of Applied Sciences (Faculty of Spatial Information). The collaboration has harnessed the creativity of professors and students alike. Various applications on multitouch displays invite visitors to call up as they wish diverse contents relating to the artworks, Grohmann’s network and the large reservoir of background information, allowing the visitors to immerse themselves in the art critic’s visual world and explore it for themselves.
During the exhibition’s run, Café Zuntz in the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau’s foyer will give visitors a chance to swap ideas and impressions on the show. The café is being set up especially for the exhibition and aims to evoke the historic 1920s café of the same name, a legendary meeting place for the Dresden art scene on Prager Straße.


Read the press release as pdf.

Dr. Stephan Adam
Head of Press and Communication
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Postfach 12 05 51
01006 Dresden                                                      
Tel. ++49-351-49 14 2643
Fax ++49-351-49 14 2366
presse@skd.museum
www.skd.museum
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