For more than five decades he was a key figure on the European art scene, and anyone who is interested in artists such as Kirchner, Kandinsky or Klee is bound to come across his name: Will Grohmann (18871968), one of the most influential German art critics of the 20th century. To mark the 125th anniversary of his birth, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
are holding a major exhibition in his honour at the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, with Bernd Neumann MdB, Minister of State for Culture and the Media, acting as patron. This project has been made possible through the joint funding provided by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Kulturstiftung der Länder, the Ferdinand-Möller-Stiftung and the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung.
Will Grohmanns reviews shaped art history, and his monographs and catalogues raisonnées remain standard works to this day. He discovered artists and promoted them, and he used his relations with artists, gallery owners, museums, the media and the public to shape the perception of modern art like no other figure in Germany. Over the course of many years of wide-ranging research, the curator of the exhibition, Dr. Konstanze Rudert, has analysed around 80,000 documents left by the critic, which are held in the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. These documents include correspondence with more than 2,500 partners and testify to Grohmanns unique network, his enormous productivity as an author and his exceptional sense of artistic judgement.
Presenting more than 200 works by artists promoted by Will Grohmann, the exhibition demonstrates the development of art and the formation of the canon of modern art in the 20th century. The spectrum ranges from the Brücke group and the Bauhaus to Art Informel. The exhibition features paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs and a video installation by modern artists including numerous important loans from public and private collections in Brazil, England, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the USA. Works from Grohmanns private collection and from the collection of classical modern art that was formerly held in Dresden and which Grohmann was instrumental in assembling, but which was almost entirely lost as a result of the Nazi campaign against degenerate art, will also be on display in Dresden again for the first time since 1933. Media stations with multi-touch applications developed in association with the Technische Universität Dresden and the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft are integrated into the exhibition architecture. They guide visitors through the exhibition, whilst bringing Grohmann and his era to life in a virtual world. For example, the legendary 1946 General German Art Exhibition in Dresden, of which Will Grohmann was the spiritus rector, is reconstructed in the form of a 3-D animation.
The varied programme of accompanying events includes readings, concerts, panel discussions, film showings and lectures dealing with many themes connected with the exhibition such as the Dresden Secession, Grohmann and the Brücke group, the Bauhaus and Abstraction as well as investigating his interest in dance and music and his role as a critic and agent. In association with the Academy of Arts in Berlin, an international colloquium will be held in Dresden and Berlin from 3 5 December under the title Der Kritiker ist für die Kunst (The Critic is for Art), at which the function of art criticism then and now will be discussed.