Gabriel von Max (18401915), artist, Spiritist and Darwinist, was a remarkable character and in many ways a paradigmatic figure of the later nineteenth century. His main focus lay in the history of the development of mankind, its origins, essence and future.
This exhibition in the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau
Munich present the very first comprehensive overview of von Maxs entire work. Every facet of his rich imagination will be shown, from his artistic oeuvre to his interest in natural history as well as ethnology and esoterics.
Max's painting, research and work as a collector provide an encyclopaedic view of the art, culture and science of his time, and a spectacular visual encounter with various aspects of the nineteenth century. Gabriel von Max was educated in Prague, Vienna and Munich, and after the success of his 1867 painting The Christian Martyr he became one of the most influential artists in both Czech and Munich art circles.
He created historical and figure paintings with Christian, literary and mythological subjects, and was greatly admired as a painter of souls addressing the themes of love, religion, death and the afterlife. He developed his own pictorial idiom for contemporary issues that then had no iconography of their own, including anatomy, vivisection and Darwins theory of evolution.
Towards the end of the century Max concentrated more and more on his scientific interests. At the same time his series of pictures of monkeys met with great acclaim. Max's intensive work as a collector in the fields of anthropology, zoology, ethnology and prehistory resulted in a magnificently diverse and high-quality collection of over 60,000 objects, most of which are today held in the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Mannheim.