On Otto Mueller as "model" in Kirchner's works done around to , see Gordon, cat.
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Noteworthy are the unusually pink to red-brown sand beaches and dunes, contrasting starkly with the dune grass and trees above the dunes conceived in dark green, the sea modulating in various blue tones, and the rocks lying like islands in the sand. Kirchner's powerful color mixture, perhaps unusual at first glance, can be glimpsed for the first time in Still Life with Mask Gordon , painted in Berlin in This painting Gordon himself held to be a key work, not only because of the indica-tion of a color mixture new for Kirchner, but also because of the first use of the facial forms, elongated or even distended, which were to become characteristic of him in the coming years.
Gordon speaks of an extension and thinning of the human proportions of the figures, 16 although Grohmann had already drawn attention to their "stiff and conscious posture even when relaxing" and "the formation of a gracile ideal of beauty with small hips and shoul-ders" 17 fig. As a precedent for the transparent, almost gouache-like painting method for Two Nude Figures in a Landscape one can take among others the painting Erna near the Sea, Fehmarn fig.
Its very thinly applied paint and staccato parallel brush strokes are a special painting technique characteristic of a large number of works pro-duced on Fehmarn in See Gordon, 83 See Gordon, See Will Grohmann. Kirchner Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, , It remains only to prove the distended bodies of the figures in the Raleigh painting as typical of Kirchner.
And it is only in this context that Otto Mueller comes into consideration. However, a digression on the development of the two artists from their first meeting—on the occasion of the "Ausstellung von Werken Zuruckgewiesener der Berliner Secession" in the Berlin Galerie Maximilian Macht in May of —to the time this work was painted will make all the more clear why Two Nude Figures in a Landscape can only be by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
Mueller, born in Liebau in , had already moved from the Silesian province to Berlin in 1 , the same year that Max Pechstein moved there from Dresden. Whether Mueller and Pechstein met at the time is not known, but it certainly was possible, given their mutual interest in the Berlin Secession. Mueller had completed a lithog-raphy apprenticeship before attending the academies in Dresden and Munich around the turn of the century.
Because of this training, his work up to 1 is associated with the academically led art of the end of the nineteenth century rather than with the much more color-intensive, carefree, Fauve-like painting of the Brucke artists. In the summer of 1 , Mueller and his wife, Maschka, together with Mara and Helene, two of his four sisters, and several other people, among them probably Ivo Hauptmann, also spent a few days, like Kirchner, on Fehmarn. The two artists were doubtless there at different times and with different interests in choice of motif.
While Kirchner's interests during his first visit were directed towards the interior landscape of the island, the streets of Burg, and individual facades, Mueller stationed his models on sections of the coastline similar to those that would appear in Kirchner's works in the years to Mara and Helene on the Shore of 1 fig. See Crohmann, 62, mimiiku 27 A comparison with the paintings Kirchner executed on Fehmarn in —for example, Fehmarn Coast Gordon 40 —shows only that the styles of the two artists were still quite divergent and that Kirchner, as he said himself, had painted some of the Fehmarn paintings of 1 with a spatula, while Mueller preferred conventional painting methods, 20 producing works balanced in composition and subject with assured style and well-trained technique.
In the intervening period up to , the year in which Mueller struck up a friendship with the Brucke artists, his style must, however, have changed radically, because for them it was now self-evident that he was one of them; 21 and they invited him to participate in an exhibition that autumn in the Dresden Galerie Ernst Arnold. The works both artists produced, from to 3 and subse-quently, show at first glance points of comparison and related motifs.
This is especially noticeable in Kirchner's Three Bathers on the Shore fig. Even the com-mon style and motifs of artists working closely and often daily together—like Kirchner, Heckel, and Pechstein at the Moritzburg lakes in the summer of — leave room for individual characteristics. And certainly Heckel and Kirchner were much closer at the time. There never were such commonalities that might lead to confusion between Kirchner and Mueller fig. Nonetheless, the noticeably overt elongation of the bodies—the thin arms and legs, the overly distended, slim feet, the slim joints of the models—that Fig.
See Kornfeld, Erich Heckel to Emmy Mueller, Otto's sister. Mueller, however, unlike Kirchner, always paid attention to a well-propor-tioned rendition of his models, emphasizing their figures. The elongation of the very slim limbs corresponded to his quite sophisticated ideal of beauty, which included an under-standing of the contours of the bodies as an unbroken line. Mueller retained his distinctive aesthetic to the end of his life. Up to now this discussion has ignored Mueller's interest, after , in the technique of distemper paint.
The Bathers from 1 91 0, in the Museum Folkwang, is one of the last works he painted with an oil-based medium or turpentine. The Berlin painting, The Judgment ofParis, also from , is one of the first that he painted in distemper, a medium which he adopted from this time forth, probably exclusively, for his ever-coarser support— canvases of burlap or sackcloth.
Characteristic of Mueller's distemper technique is a thick, full coloration that sought at the same time a dry dullness of the paint surface. Kirchner, on the other hand, still preferred oil paints for his ever-larger formats. These he greatly thinned, allowing a commingling of the applied paints and simultaneously a greater transparency and luminosity through the use of a sort of quickly drying watercolor technique.
This transparency, achieved by Kirchner in his Fehmarn paintings of , for example, is impossible to generate using distemper paint. According to the tech-nical examination and media analysis, Two Nude Tigures in a Landscape is composed of thin washes characteristic of oil paint, and the medium is an oil-wax mixture reportedly employed by Kirchner, not an aqueous-based medium such as the distemper typically used by Mueller since approximately 1 91 0. Because of the almost complete lack of dating of the works of Mueller, his paintings of can only be ordered by arguments of motif and style.
As far as the time with Kirchner on Fehmarn is concerned, there is certainly a degree of correspondence. The elongated bodies of the models, for example, doubtless arose origi-nally from a detailed study by Mueller of the work of the sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck, who lived in Paris, and whose work Mueller saw, at least in original, for the first time in Berlin in Motifs such as nude bathers on the beach or in the woods were de rigueur at the time for all artists working in natural surroundings.
However, extreme, unproportioned, if not unfavorable postures such as that of the figure crouching on the left of the Raleigh painting are almost never to be found in Mueller's work, neither in his lithographs nor in his watercolors or paintings. For Kirchner, on the other hand, to capture such a contorted posture was a means of buttressing the spontaneity he desired. The same crouching posture is to Since the examination done by Barbara Wojcik see n.
See also the letter from Kirchner student Chris A. Laely, in the Museum of Modern Art, Department of Painting and Sculpture: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Collection File, in which Laely discusses Kirchner's use of an oil-wax mixture; and see the conservator's note at the conclusion of this article. It appears as well in Kirchner's decoration of his studio walls, first in Dresden and then later in his Berlin residence. The photographs Kirchner made give the impression of a spontaneous, sketchy narrative independent of his pictorial decision to decorate the walls and fabric hangings with erotic fantasies fig.
When Mueller, after some consideration —and doubtless at the instigation of Kirchner— produced a decorative frieze in fig. In a comparison of the two artists' studios, the differences between them become evi-dent: Kirchner's nervous, restless, mistrustful, ambitious nature on the one hand, and on the other, the patient, level-headed, composed Mueller. The catalogue, with three color and otherwise black-and-white reproductions, lists forty-three paint-ings, twenty-three watercolors and drawings, thirty-two woodcuts, a few lithographs and etchings, and two silver clasps—about 1 00 works, up to that time the most extensive individual exhibition of the most important Brucke artist to take place in the United States.
That this exhibition took place in Raleigh, and not in New York or Chicago, is due to the interest of the director of the museum, W.
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Valentiner Valentiner, born in Karlsruhe in 1 , studied history and art history at Heidelberg under, among others, Henry Thode, by all accounts an arch conservative. In 1 Valentiner received his doctorate in Heidelberg for his dissertation on Rembrandt. After working as an assistant to Hofstede de Groot for two years in The Hague, where he was able to continue his study of Dutch painting, Valentiner was made assistant at the Kaiser- Friedrich-Museum by Privy Councillor Wilhelm von Bode, the general director of the Berlin museums.
In , on Bode's recommendation, Valentiner was made curator of decorative arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—and thus, one can guess, became the Berlin van LMthau 3i general director's connection in the United States, which proved its worth the next year with an exhibition of German contemporary art in Boston, for which Bode acted as commissioner.
After the war Valentiner lived at first in Berlin as a scholar. He became a passive member of the November Group and began to develop a deeper interest in the works of the German Expressionists.afexufifam.gq
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Included among Valentiner's publications was the paper "Redesigning Museums in the Spirit of the New Times," which brought with it further intensive contact with Wilhelm von Bode and which, among other things, reacted to the intense discussion that Bode was already leading about the old and redesigned buildings of the Berlin museum island.
In 1 he became the Institute's director, a position he held for twenty years. In spite of having reached retirement age, in 1 Valentiner was named co-director-consultant at what was then the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art. In 1 , he was given the task of organizing J. Paul Getty's extensive and heterogeneous collection, which was located in a specially purchased country house in Malibu.
He died on 5 September The following year, in Valentiner's memory, the Raleigh museum opened "Masterpieces of Art," an exhibition that told of the rich life, between the old continent and the new, of this internationally active museum director and looked back on his important purchases, mediations, gifts, and schol-arly achievements. Two paintings by Kirchner from the Valentiner estate were included in this exhibition: the Panama Girls Gordon that would later become the property of the museum26 and the 1 Landscape ofFrauenkirch Gordon 1 01 3 , one of the artist's last paintings.
One searches the catalogue in vain for Two Nude Figures in a Landscape. However, listed in the catalogue is Two Bathing Girls by Mueller, probably painted at the beginning of the 1 s, which came to America as part of the exhibition "German Painting and Sculpture" organized by Alfred H. Barr at the Museum of Modern Art in and which was probably purchased by Valentiner at the time of the exhibition.
The Fig. Ceburtstag, ed. Angelika Wesenberg Berlin: Nationalgalerie, , Paul Getty Museum, , 7. The present-day Getty Museum was built in Malibu in the s. See Lebensbilder aus der Familie Valentiner zwischen und , ed. Elisabeth Paatz nee Valentiner Heidelberg, , 73 ff. Mann, , Panama Girls is the subject of the preceding article in this issue of the Bulletin. Today it hangs in the Berlin Brucke Museum. All this, however, does not explain how Two Nude Figures in a Landscape came to be in Valentiner's possession.
This still remains a mystery. More significant or even disturbing is the question of how the knowledgeable museum director was able to make such an attribution, an attribution that was then uncritically accepted by his colleagues. In retrospect, the circumstances cannot be completely fathomed. Valentiner not only knew the work of Kirchner very well; he was also responsible, as director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, for the first American Kirchner exhibition. And in Berlin after the war he had become more familiar with Kirchner's works.
See Davoser Tagebuch, Moreover, shortly before Valentiner left Berlin in 1 for the Detroit Institute of Arts, he could have seen Kirchner's one-person exhibition of about fifty works, which had opened in February in the Berlin Kronprinzenpalais. The foreword to its catalogue was written by Valentiner.
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From Mueller there were, apart from five watercolors and four lithographs, five paintings mistakenly described as "oil. Valentiner therefore had the best of opportunities to study the works of Mueller. Coming from Italy, where he had been visiting the publisher Kurt Wolff in Venice, Valentiner made use of the opportunity to visit Dr. Bauer—family doctor, faithful friend, and a collector of Kirchner works— in Davos and then Kirchner himself in Frauenkirch, in order to ask for works for the Detroit exhibition.
Kirchner was more than pleased at this visit, recognizing in it the chance of finally becoming established in America. On 7 September , Kirchner wrote to Valentiner: "Dear Doctor: I want to thank you very much again for the interest and time you spent in seeing my works. In accordance with your wish, I have quickly made a few more photographs, and I am going to send them to you in care of Kurt Wolff in Florence A thou-sand thanks that you will try to find friends for my pictures.
Kirchner asked Valentiner for reviews and received photographs and newspaper clippings. The German dealer Curt Valentin, who had just arrived in New York, was successful in scheduling the Berlin: Nationalgalerie, , 38ff. Kirchner to W. Valentiner, 7 September , quoted in E. Kirchner, German Expressionist, exh. Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Art, , Quoted by Valentiner, Kurt Wolff was a publisher in Munich. It was shown in October of the same year, supplemented by further works from Kirchner himself, nine months before Kirchner's suicide. In the letters from Kirchner to Valentiner that were published in the exhibition catalogue of —the American's response has not been found —two passages demonstrate how well-founded Valentiner's knowledge of Kirchner and his work had become.