Wols, Le fantôme bleu (Das blaue Phantom), 1951
Öl, Grattage, Tuben- und Fingerabdrücke auf Leinwand, 73 x 60 cm
Museum Ludwig, Köln, Foto: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013
In honour of Wols’ (Wolfgang Schulze, 1913-1951) hundredth birthday, the Kunsthalle Bremen together with the Menil Collection in Houston is presenting the exhibition “Wols: The Retrospective.” This is the most extensive presentation of the artist’s work in almost 25 years (since the exhibition in the Kunsthaus Zurich and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf in 1989), comprising of over 200 works (about 35 paintings, 125 watercolours and drawings, 30 photographs, and 10 illustrated books).
Wols’ equally eventful and tragic biography, shaped by war, flight and destitution, was seen, until now, as the decisive key to the understanding of his oeuvre. For the first time, the exhibition at the Kunsthalle Bremen takes as its starting point the work itself and looks at the artist as a protagonist of the international avant-garde. It traces the path from the artist's initial Surrealist experiments to his revolutionary late work which, as a manifestation of Art Informel, exercised one of the decisive influences on post-1945 art. Over a productive period of only fifteen years, Wols created an oeuvre which numbers among the most astounding artistic achievements of mid-twentieth century art. Wols' drawings, watercolours, and paintings developed from a slow creative process and a capacity for transformation which can be retraced in the works themselves. The exhibition culminates in the impressive selection of paintings in which the artist creates abstract structures and rough surface textures that are the foundation of a new painterly language.
The curators Dr. Ewald Rathke, the recognized Wols expert who has concerned himself with the artist for over five decades, and Toby Kamps from the Menil Collection have made a concise selection, shedding new light onto the work of this outstanding 20th-century artist and impressively demonstrating his continuing relevance. The rich holdings of the Menil Collection in Houston and of the Karin und Uwe Hollweg Foundation in Bremen form the basis of this selection complemented by many rarely seen works on loan from international museums and private collectors.
Following the presentation at the Kunsthalle Bremen, the exhibition will be shown at the Menil Collection, Houston from the 12 September 2013 to 12 January 2014. A substantial and richly illustrated publication accompanies the exhibition.
Albrecht Dürer, Rhinocerus, 1515, woodcut, Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Department of Prints and Drawings
Avenging Japanese ghosts, thieving dental assistants and furious cows – the over 200,000 works of art on paper in the collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen are swarming with curious apparitions and exciting stories. A selection of the most beautiful examples from Dürer and Rembrandt to Manet and Matisse and on to Warhol, John Cage and William Kentridge is shown in the Bremen exhibition especially devised for children. The art works are installed at low height and graphic techniques are explained in a language appropriate for children.
The exhibition is based on a children’s book about graphic art published in 2011 by the Kunsthalle Bremen – the first of its kind. The book illustrates over 50 outstanding works from the gallery’s collection of prints and drawings which are now presented in this special exhibition. Albrecht Dürer’s famous Rhinocerus accompanies the exhibition visitor through the gripping, lovely and often bizarre world of art on paper, explaining different graphic techniques and the themes dealt with.
A number of activities and programs complement the exhibition, giving children and adults the possibility to create art on paper, inspired by great masterpieces.
The project “Art on Paper” stands under the patronage of Bernd Neumann, Minister of Culture in the Federal Government.
Henri Matisse, Madame de Pompadour reçoit le mardi 20 novembre 1951 au Pavillon de Marsan à 22 heures, 1951, colour lithograph, 80 x 59,5 cm, Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Department of Prints and Drawings. © Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013
Until the mid 19th century poster design was mainly in the hands of the producers, such as printers and lithographers. In the 1880s the demands made on poster design changed radically. More and more artists were asked to design posters and between 1890 and 1895 the artists’ poster developed internationally into an independent and respected form of art. France was at the centre of these developments. After 1945 art posters once again experienced a revival, in which the lithographer Fernand Mourlot played a leading role. Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and Miró all had their colourful posters printed by him.
In the spring of 2010 the Kunstverein in Bremen received a gift of 112 posters, designed by 45 artists, which were all produced in Mourlot’s legendary print shop. They complement the Kunsthalle’s excellent collection of French posters of the late 19th century with works of the mid 20th century. The gift was made through the bequest of the Worpswede art historian and collector, Hans-Herman Rief. The Kunsthalle is now presenting a substantial selection of these significant posters from the Paris school.