Today, the world of sports penetrates almost every aspect of life. It is a critical element of modern lifestyle, a popular spectacle for the masses or an expression of social distinction. In Germany, the incredible success story of sports began more than a hundred years ago: Max Liebermann was the first German artist to preoccupy himself extensively with this subject. The exhibition examines Liebermann’s preoccupation with leisure, recreation and sports within the context of art as well as the historical and social development of sport, with a special focus on horse riding, polo and tennis in art. Works by Degas, Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec illustrate the inspiration that Liebermann found in French painting and graphic arts. However, his depictions of tennis and polo players are unique in France and Germany. The singularity of his motifs is illustrated through the juxtaposition with selected works by English and German contemporaries such as John Lavery and Max Slevogt.
Liebermann primarily explores the subjects of horseback riding, tennis and polo motifs in the period between 1900 and 1914. These works convey an image of the Wilhelminian upper classes whose leisure activities were infused by the idea of the English sportsman. At the end of the nineteenth century, Liebermann turned his attention to summer visitors at the North Sea. There he first painted bathers and horseback riders but soon focused on modern sports such as polo, horse racing and tennis which had been popular in England for some time. Following the First World War, Liebermann’s sports motifs faded into the background. In the 1920s a younger generation of artists began to discover sports as a subject, particularly sports for the masses such as football and boxing. Depictions of boxers by Georges Grosz, Renée Sintenis and Rudolf Grossmann reflected the change in interest from elegant lawn sports in the countryside to physical exertion in urban sports arenas.
The exhibition will present works from international museums and private collections as well as from the collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen. The exhibition is held in cooperation with the Liebermann Villa am Wannsee, Berlin, where it will be shown from March 19 to June 26, 2017.
Fig.: Max Liebermann, Polospieler in Jenischs Park, 1903, Private collection | Tennisspieler am Meer, 1. Fassung, 1901, Museum Kunst der Westküste, Alkersum/Föhr © Repro Lukas Spörl | Reiter am Strand mit Foxterrier, 1911, Nationalmuseum Stockholm
This exhibition presents French prints from the second half of the seventeenth century, an era in which the Absolutism of the Sun King Louis XIV developed into a form of government that shaped Europe. During this period, the French school of copperplate engraving emerged. It built on Italian and Dutch developments in the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries, revitalizing the qualities of both – the graphic concept and the pictorial graduated tonality – and even improved them thanks to more sophisticated technical means.
In 1660, Louis XIV freed engravers from the restrictions of guilds and elevated them to the rank of free artists; in 1663 they were allowed to enter the Academy. The Minister of Finances, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, utilised printmaking for his political goals by publishing an extensive series of engravings, the so-called Cabinet du Roi, to record Louis XIV’s collection of art works, buildings, cultural events and military victories. Printmaking informed society’s taste in regards to the objects portrayed and in addition the quality of the prints themselves. Their technical precision and the inventiveness of engravers, such as Gérard Edelinck, Claude Mellan and Robert Nanteuil, advanced them to highly respected and desirable prestige objects that set the standard for later printmaking.
Fig.: Gérard Edelinck (1640–1707), Die Anghiarischlacht, after a sketch by Peter Paul Rubens, after the lost fresco by Leonardo da Vinci, copperplate engraving, 50 x 64 cm, © Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Photo: Karen Blindow
Subject to modifications!