Galerie St. Etienne
Body & Soul:
BODY & SOUL:
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Expressionism and the Human Figure
October 7, 2003, through January 3, 2004
The Galerie St. Etienne's fall exhibition, BODY & SOUL: Expressionism and the Human Figure, explores a movement that has often proved hard to define. BODY & SOUL covers a wide range of responses to the problem of expressive figuration, including works by such diverse artists as Max Beckmann, Richard Gerstl, Erich Heckel, E.L. Kirchner, Oskar Kokoschka, Otto Mueller, Emil Nolde, Hermann Max Pechstein, Egon Schiele, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and others. Comprising paintings, watercolors and drawings in addition to a number of extremely rare prints, the presentation coincides with Print Week and the IFPDA Print Fair (held at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City from November 6th to 9th). The St. Etienne show will be on view from October 7, 2003, through January 3, 2004.
The Expressionists were essentially concerned with transcending visible reality, and therefore depictions of the human figure often served as windows into a subject’s inner soul. However, unlike more narrowly defined styles, such as Cubism, Expressionism spawned a multitude of interpretations over time and place. The North German artists of the Brücke (Bridge) group had an approach very different from that of their Munich-based contemporaries in the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) group. And these two groups, active prior to World War I, had a much more idealistic, other-worldly orientation than did the artists of the 1920s, who had lived through the war and its turbulent aftermath. BODY & SOUL traces the genesis of figural Expressionism in Austria and Germany from the early twentieth century through the 1930s, when Hitler outlawed avant-garde art.
BODY & SOUL features a number of major works, many of them borrowed from private collections in the U.S. and Europe. Among the highlights of the show is a self-portrait oil by the Austrian Richard Gerstl, whose paintings are seldom seen in this country. Another highlight is a large, richly detailed pencil study by Beckmann for his renowned print cycle Hell. Kirchner’s Nude in a Room is an exceptionally fully worked watercolor dating from the seminal period prior to the outbreak of World War I. Kokoschka is represented by a group of watercolors, drawings and prints done just after the war, when the Austrian artist absorbed the bright palette and bold forms typical of his German colleagues. The exhibition also contains a cross-section of works by Kokoschka’s compatriot Schiele, starting with a vivid watercolor from 1910 (the year the artist first emerged as an Expressionist) and concluding with an almost classical nude from 1918 (the last year of Schiele’s life). Several watercolors and a gemlike small oil are among the contributions by Nolde, an artist who, like Schiele, is often most prized for his works on paper. As a group, the Expressionists raised printmaking to an unprecedented level of artistic mastery. BODY & SOUL includes many extraordinarily rare proofs by such artists as Felixmüller, Heckel, Kirchner, Kollwitz, Nolde and Schmidt-Rottluff.
BODY & SOUL: Expressionism and the Human Figure is documented by a comprehensive checklist, which is available free of charge upon request.