The exhibition Kollwitz Beckmann Dix Grosz. Wartime brings together works from within the Staatsgalerie
Stuttgarts collection immediate artistic reactions to the two devastating world wars and society in the first half of the twentieth century.
Series and portfolios by these artists rarely shown in their entirety are included, as are self-portraits and other impressive individual works. The drawings and prints are complemented by a small number of paintings and sculptures.
For the first time in more than forty years, the Staatsgalerie is presenting its complete internationally noteworthy Käthe Kollwitz holdings, comprising some one hundred drawings and prints. Her oeuvre offers above all investigations as forceful as they are distressing of the themes of war, death and family.
The artists son and grandson were killed in action in the two world wars, losses that caused her painful uncertainty about her own existence. The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart presents its rich holdings of Käthe Kollwitz drawings and prints, among them her four series A Weavers Rebellion, Peasants War, War and Death.
They are enhanced by works of such Kollwitz contemporaries as Max Beckmann, Ludwig Meidner, Otto Dix and George Grosz to form a powerful image of an epoch.
In the etching series The War, published in Berlin in 1924, Otto Dix (18911969) visualizes the events and consequences of the battles in France and Belgium with relentless harshness.
Max Beckmann (18841950) is represented with works executed during and after World War I, for example the recently purchased drawing Nurse and Male Figure Tending to Sick Patient of 1915.
George Grosz (18931959) documents in this show primarily the period between the world wars. Characterized by poverty, hunger, hardship and insurgency, it was an era of a still very warlike nature, as seen in Groszs 1922 series The Robbers: Nine Lithographs on sentences from Schillers Robbers.
Works by Ernst Barlach (18701938) and Ludwig Meidner (18841966) are also on view, as are two further series presenting war in all its absurdity and destructive frenzy: The Damned by Otto Herrmann (18991995) of Stuttgart, executed in the years 194750 after Theodor Plieviers novel Stalingrad, and DRESDEN 1945 by Wilhelm Rudolph (18891982).
Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945) is represented in the exhibition with his work Heroic Symbols of 1969, acquired by the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in 2010. In it he examined the impact of fascism on post-1945 art and his personal stance on that phase of German history.
Art in any shape or form can be beautiful, cheering, soothing or simply exist without any ulterior motive. Just as important a function of art, however, is to stir people up, call their attention to adverse circumstances, remind them of human natures pitfalls and thus to intervene in societys processes.