BIELEFELD.- In 1902, when Karl Ernst Osthaus founded the Folkwang Museum in Hagen, opening up his collection to the public, modernism moved into Westphalia. With it arose Westphalian Expressionism, which, by the 1930s, had established a style all its own, blending rural traditions and modern city life, and made an important contribution to German modernism.
While the artistic paths of native Westphalians August Macke and Hermann Stenner took them from their homeland to the Rhineland and Stuttgart, Christian Rohlfs came from Schleswig-Holstein, at the invitation of Osthaus, to a studio in Hagen. With a circle of artists that included Wilhelm Morgner and Eberhard Viegener, Soest became a center of Westphalian modernism, attracting many artists with its medieval appearance.
In Bielefeld, the Kunstgewerbeschule (applied arts school), originally founded in 1907 with an emphasis on arts and crafts, soon proved to be a driving force behind modernist efforts in art and design. The painting class presided over by progressive teacher Ludwig Godewols became a place where modern art was created, and many of the local artists finished their early studies there, including Victor Tuxhorn, Ernst Sagewka, Heinz Lewerenz, Hermann Freudenau, and the young Peter August Böckstiegel, who later continued his studies in Dresden.
Between the Brücke (Bridge) and the Blauer Reiter (Blue Rider), between the German art centers of Dresden, Berlin, and Munichwhere Expressionists were talked about and the art world and the spirit of the times were in revolutionthe region from the Ruhr District to the Teutoburger Forest rarely got the attention it deserved, and Westphalias modernists only occasionally caught the eye of the art world. It was not until 1933, when the National Socialists banned the progressive-minded Vereinigung westfälischer Künstler und Kunstfreunde (Association of Westphalian artists and friends), that their achievements over time became obvious.
With this large exhibition of approximately 180 paintings, watercolors, drawings, and printsmany of them loaned from a number of different museums and private collections, while the rest are works from the Kunsthalles own inventorythe Kunsthalle Bielefeld is presenting a fundamental survey of Westphalian Expressionism.