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Katherine Paschal
IU Art Museum

Last modified: Monday, September 24, 2012

IU Art Museum exhibits one of nation's largest university collections of German Expressionism

Sept. 24, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Selections from one of the largest university collections of German Expressionism in the nation will be on display this fall at the Indiana University Art Museum.

Boats on the Elbe

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938). "Boats on the Elbe in Dresden," oil on canvas.

Print-Quality Photo

Composed of 48 works from its permanent collection, "Pioneers and Exiles: German Expressionism at the IU Art Museum" is the museum's first major exhibition on the movement in 35 years. It aims to introduce visitors to the artists, subjects and techniques of Expressionism, considered one of the most important modern art movements of the early 20th century, while showcasing the development of the museum's collection within a broader historical context.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 96-page illustrated catalog featuring an essay by exhibition organizer Jennifer McComas, the IU Art Museum's Class of 1949 Curator of Western Art After 1800. It opens Oct. 6 and ends Dec. 23.

"I hope visitors come away from this exhibition with an understanding of the movement artistically, but also its importance both politically and culturally. Art doesn't exist in a bubble," McComas said. "Many of our German Expressionist works have a presence in our permanent galleries, but we felt this exhibition was a wonderful way to show off more of our collection and perhaps help audiences see it in a new context."

Visitors to the "Pioneers and Exiles" exhibition will be able to view Emil Nolde's painting "Nudes and Eunuch," which was included in the Nazi propaganda exhibition, "Degenerate Art." The local exhibition coincides with the 75th anniversary of that exhibition in Munich. Meant to devalue modern German art, it instead served as a turning point in the American reception of German Expressionism, garnering wide acknowledgement and support for the style and its practitioners.

"Pioneers and Exiles" also draws particular attention to the exiled German artists, collectors and dealers who made their way to the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s and developed relationships with IU, its nascent museum and the driving forces behind its burgeoning collection, including former President Herman B Wells and former directors Thomas Solley and Henry Hope.

In addition to gallery talks, two special programs are scheduled in November:

  • "Kokoschka's List: Curating the Self for London." Lecture by Keith Holz, associate professor of art history at Western Illinois University. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7, Fine Arts Room 102.
  • "Bringing the World to Bloomington: Henry Hope, Herman B Wells, Paul Sachs and Modern Art in the University Museum." Symposium participants include McComas; David Alan Brown, National Gallery of Art; James H. Capshew, Department of History and Philosophy of Science in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU; and Carrie Schwier from IU's Office of University Archives and Records Management. 2 p.m. Nov. 9, Fine Arts Room 015.

The exhibition and catalog were made possible by the IU Art Museum's ARC Fund and the Class of 1949 Endowment for the Curator of Western Art After 1800; a grant from Themester 2012, an initiative of the College of Arts and Sciences; and a New Frontiers Traveling Exploration Fellowship, a program of the Office of the Vice President for Research.