13 NOVEMBER 2019 TO 16 FEBRUARY 2020

"Great realism, great abstraction" – the approximately 1,800, twentieth-century German drawings in the collection of the Städel Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings occupy a realm between these two poles. In the winter of 2019/2020, the museum will show a representative selection of some 100 works mirroring the emphases of the collection that have taken shape over the course of its long history. Drawings by Max Beckmann (1884–1950) and the “Brücke” artists – first and foremost Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938) – will form the prelude. They developed a pictorial language that, varying between the near-representational and the abstract, carried over into the works of artists who devoted themselves to figurative and abstract tendencies in divided post-war Germany. These include exponents of Informel, Neoexpressionist currents and Pop Art, among them Karl Otto Götz (1914–2017), Joseph Beuys (1921–1986), Georg Baselitz (1938), Gerhard Richter (1932) and Sigmar Polke (1941–2010). Drawing served the artists as a means of immediate expression, whether in the trenches of World War I, the boulevards of the awakening metropolis of Berlin or in the midst of the emerging world of consumption and commodities. In this medium, they constructed idealistic life plans, rebelled against established traditions in politics and society, or reflected on decisive events in German history. Because it was the respective context that determined the technique, the works on view will range from simple pencil sketches and miniature-like chalk drawings to vivid pastels and watercolours and even monumental collages.

The catalogue accompanying the exhibition will be the first ever to investigate the Städel Museum’s collection of twentieth-century German drawings on the basis of selected examples.

With support from Stiftung Gabriele Busch-Hauck Frankfurt am Main

Download the complete press text here.

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