Thursday, October 22, 2020

Discovery of Missing Painting by Iconic American Modernist Jacob Lawrence


Jacob Lawrence, (American, 1917–2000). There are combustibles in every State, which a spark might set fire to. —Washington, 26 December 1786, Panel 16, 1956, from Struggle: From the History of the American People, 1954–56. Egg tempera on hardboard. Private Collection. © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen.

Thought missing for decades, the panel will be reunited this week with the artist's Struggle series, now on view in an exhibition at The Met that closes November 1, 2020.

The work will also join the exhibition tour, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, and be on view at subsequent venues through fall 2021.

The Met has announced the discovery of a painting by esteemed American artist Jacob Lawrence that has been missing for decades. The panel is one of 30 that comprise Lawrence's powerful epic, Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56), and it will be reunited immediately with the series, now on view at The Met through November 1 in Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle. Titled by the artist There are combustibles in every State, which a spark might set fire to. —Washington, 26 December 1786, the work depicts Shays' Rebellion, the consequential uprising of struggling farmers in western Massachusetts led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays; it protested the state's heavy taxation and spurred the writing of the U.S. Constitution and efforts to strengthen federal power. The panel is number 16 in the Struggle series.  

The painting has not been seen publicly since 1960, when the current owners purchased it at a local charity art auction. A recent visitor to The Met's exhibition, who knew of the existence of an artwork by Lawrence that had been in a neighbor's collection for years, suspected that the painting might belong to the Struggle series and encouraged the owners to contact the Museum.

The work will be specially featured at The Met and will also join the touring exhibition, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), for presentations in Birmingham, Alabama; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, D.C., through next fall.

Max Hollein, Director of The Met, said, "It is rare to make a discovery of this significance in modern art, and it is thrilling that a local visitor is responsible. We are also very excited for our colleagues at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), the organizers of the exhibition that inspired this historic find. And most importantly, we are looking forward to having visitors enjoy this new addition—in these final two weeks at The Met and at the upcoming venues of the show."

Before this discovery, five of the 30 panels painted by Lawrence for the Struggle series were unlocated, and two of those were recorded only by their titles. The "Shays' Rebellion" panel is one of those. Its existence was known through a brochure that accompanied the first showing of the Struggle series in New York in December 1956 at the Alan Gallery. In May 1958, the panels were exhibited again at the gallery, and had not been seen together as a group until PEM's 2020 organization of Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle.

"It was our fervent hope that the missing panels would somehow surface during the run of American Strugglein New York, the city where Lawrence spent most of his life and where the series was last seen publicly," said Randall Griffey, Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Sylvia Yount, Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge of the American Wing, who co-organized The Met's presentation of the exhibition. "Lawrence's dynamic treatment of the 1786–87 Shays' Rebellion reinforces the overall theme of the series—that democratic change is possible only through the actions of engaged citizens, an argument as timely today as it was when the artist produced his radical paintings in the mid-1950s."

"Since reuniting the Struggle series, the absence of panel 16 has been felt acutely. Represented in our galleries as an empty frame, it was a mystery that we were all eager to solve," said Brian Kennedy, PEM's Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO. "We are thrilled to learn of its discovery—one that came about thanks to close looking and careful observation by a museum visitor—and appreciate the generosity of panel 16's owner to have it join and help relaunch the national tour of Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle." 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

America's Greatest Photographers

  Click on each name for complete post with photographs, or go to

Paul Strand
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
Paul Strand (American, 1890–1976) was one of the greatest photographers in the history of the medium. It will explore the remarkable evolution of Strand’s work, from the breakthrough moment in the second decade of the twentieth century when he brought his art to the brink of abstraction to his broader vision of the place of photography in the modern world, which he would develop over the course of a career that spanned six decades. Born in New York City, Strand first studied with the social documentary photographer Lewis Hine at New York’s Ethical Culture School from 1907–09, an...
Helen Levitt
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
A lifelong New Yorker, Helen Levitt frequented the Lower East Side, Spanish Harlem, and other working-class neighborhoods of the city where life played out on the stoops and sidewalks. Using a handheld Leica camera outfitted with a right-angle viewfinder that allowed her to look in one direction but snap photographs in another, Levitt often passed unnoticed by her subjects, capturing unguarded instants of joyful play and meditative melancholy that constitute the mystery and poetry of everyday lives. Showcasing the honest, humorous and inventive works of prolific documentary photo...
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
Weegee Summer, *Lower East Side,* ca. 1937 Laurence Miller Gallery is pleased to present WEEGEE: Mayhem, an exhibition of eight select images from this artist’s New York City street scenes from the 1930s and 40s. The portrays NYC in all it's range: from stark and gritty urban crime to the sponanteous humor and lyricism of it's street life. Crowd with Mannequin, ca. 1940 Weegee was the pseudonym adopted by Arthur Fellig, born in 1899 in what is now part of the Ukraine. He and his family emi...
Garry Winogrand
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
Working in the tumultuous postwar decades, Winogrand captured moments of everyday American life, producing an expansive picture of a nation rich with possibility yet threatening to spin out of control. He did much of his best-known work in New York City in the 1960s, but he also traveled widely around the United States, from California and Texas to Miami and Chicago. Combining hope and buoyancy with anxiety and instability, his photographs trace the mood of the country itself, from the ebullience of the postwar optimism to the chaos of the 1960s and the gloom and depression of the...
Carleton E. Watkins
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
Carleton E. Watkins (American, 1829-1916) captured the grand depictions of an American paradise in his photographs of Yosemite Valley in California. Arguably the world’s first renowned landscape photographer, Watkins made his first photographs there in 1861—large sized prints made with an 18-by-22-inch mammoth plate camera, well suited to the grandeur of the land. Included were the three contiguous photographs that make up his extraordinarily detailed *View from the Sentinel Dome* (1865-66). The exhibition balanced the early work of landscape photographers with the twentieth ...
William Eggleston
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
The American photographer William Eggleston (born 1939) emerged in the early 1960s as a pioneer of modern color photography. Now, 50 years later, he is widely considered its greatest exemplar. Opening February 14 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibition *William Eggleston: Los Alamos* features a landmark gift to the Museum from Jade Lau of the artist's most extraordinary portfolio, *Los Alamos*, comprising 75 dye-transfer prints from color negatives made between 1965 and 1974. The exhibition marks the first time the series will be presented in its entirety in New York City...
Walker Evans
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
Walker Evans was a preeminent American photographer who shaped the history of twentieth-century photography with photographs from the 1920s to the 1970s, including the iconic images Evans made in the American South during the Great Depression—work that played a major role in solidifying the term we now refer to as documentary photography. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Evans initially aspired to become a writer. He studied literature for a year at Williams College in Massachusetts and spent time in Paris during the mid-1920s, where he encountered the work of a range of modern Europ...
Alfred Stieglitz
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946), the great American impresario of photography at the turn of the 20th century. Featuring 36 photographs, the exhibition showcases fine examples of his New York views, portraits and photographs that Stieglitz took at his family’s country home at Lake George. Alfred Stieglitz's “The Terminal”1893 Alfred Stieglitz “The Steerage” 1907 Alfred Stieglitz “From the Shelton, Looking West,” 1934 The New York views reveal the artist’s lifelong interest in the urban city, from his early explorations of the picturesque effects of rain, snow and nightfall to ...
Berenice Abbott
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
Remembered as one of the most independent, determined and respected photographers of the 20th century, Berenice Abbott chronicled the evolution of New York City for decades beginning with the Great Depression. Images of iconic New York City landmarks such as the New York Stock Exchange (est. $3,000-5,000), the construction of Rockefeller Center (est. $1,500-2,500) and Broadway to the Battery ($1,000-2,000) (below)highlight this collection of original prints. "Berenice Abbott spent years chronicling the evolution of New York City. She captured the architecture, the people a...
Ansel Adams
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
In a career that spanned more than five decades Ansel Adams became one of America’s most beloved landscape photographers and one of its more respected environmentalists. There are few artists whose name and works represent the extraordinary level of popular recognition and artistic achievement as that of Ansel Adams. Adams profoundly influenced the course of 20th century photography not only through his sumptuous and technically precise images, but also by means of his devotion to advancing the cause of photography as an art form. As an artist, educator, innovator, and writer, he h...
Dorothea Lange
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
[image:] Dorothea Lange’s well-known 1936 photograph *Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California,* photographed when Lange was employed by the Farm Security Administration, is included and documents the conditions of the West in rural areas during the Great Depression. Her photographs had a humanist purpose and resulted in putting a face on the hardships of that era. Recently named the most downloaded photograph in the Library of Congress' archive, it is also one of the m...
Robert Frank
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
Robert Frank, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century’s postwar years, revolutionized classic reportage and street photography. Over a period spanning six decades, this Swiss - American artist created photographs, experimental montages, books, and films. The Albertina is showing selected works and series that trace Robert Frank’s development: from his early photojournalistic images created on trips through Europe to the pioneering work group The Americans and on to his later, more introspective projects, over 100 works will serve to illuminate central aspe...
Diame Arbus
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
Never-before-seen early work of Diane Arbus (1923–71), focusing on the first seven years of her career, from 1956 to 1962—the period in which she developed the idiosyncratic style and approach for which she has been recognized, praised, criticized, and copied the world over. *diane arbus: in the beginning* [image: diane arbus: in the beginning] *diane arbus: in the beginning *focuses on seven key years that represent a crucial period of the artist’s genesis, showing Arbus as she developed her style and honed her practice. Arbus was fascinated by photography even before she received...
Margaret Bourke-White
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971), Louisville Flood, 1937, gelatin silver print (printed no later than 1971), 7 x 9 3/8 inches, Shogren-Meyer Collection
Irving Penn
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Photographers - 2 months ago
*Artist’s Biography* Irving Penn was born in 1917 in Plainfield, New Jersey. In 1934 he enrolled at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, where he studied design with Alexey Brodovitch. In 1938 he began a career in New York as a graphic artist. Then, after a year painting in Mexico, he returned to New York City and began work at Vogue magazine, where Alexander Liberman was art director. Liberman encouraged Penn to take his first color photograph, a still life that became the October 1, 1943, cover of Vogue, beginning a fruitful collaboration with the magazine that cont...

Monday, October 19, 2020

African-American Art


Click on titles for full articles or go to:
Reckoning with “The Incident”: John Wilson’s Studies for a Lynching Mural.
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 2 weeks ago
John Wilson, Compositional study for The Incident, 1952. Opaque and transparent watercolor, ink, and graphite, squared for transfer. Yale University Art Gallery, Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund. © Estate of John Wilson John Wilson, Negro Woman, study for The Incident, 1952. Oil on Masonite. Clark Atlanta University Art Collection, Atlanta Annuals. © Estate of John Wilson. Courtesy Clark Atlanta University Art Collection On September 25, the Yale University Art Gallery opened to visitors for the first time in nearly seven months with new covid-19 safety measures in place. “Our wor...
African Modernism in America
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 2 months ago
Peter Clarke (South African, 1929-2014) That Evening Sun Goes Down, 1960. Gouache on paper. Fisk University Galleries, Nashville. Gift of Harmon Foundation. Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993) Profile,1960. Fisk University Galleries, Nashville. Gift of Harmon Foundation. (c) 2020 Gerard Sekoto, DALRO / Johannesburg, VAGA at ARS NY. A traveling exhibition planned for late 2022 will illuminate *African Modernism in America, 1947–1967. *The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts and Fisk University Galleries in Nashville, which will be the first venue. *African ...
Dox Thrash
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 2 months ago
Also see: [image: Dox Thrash, "Saturday Night," c. 1944-45, etching. Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell, Philadelphia.] *Dox Thrash, **Saturday Night,* c. 1944-45, etching. Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell. Philadelphia-based artist *Dox Thrash* (1893–1965) was both a pioneering printmaker and a noted participant in the “New Negro” movement of the 1930s and ’40s. A veteran of World War I as well as the minstrel stage, he trained at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before making his way to Philadel...
Jacob Lawrence
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 2 months ago
The paintings of Jacob Lawrence express his lifelong concern for human dignity, freedom, and his own social consciousness. His images portray the everyday reality, the struggles and successes of African American life. Using art as an instrument of protest, Lawrence aligned himself with the American school of social realism and Mexican muralist tradition. [image: Image result] *"Carpenters"* lithograph by Jacob Lawrence in the Bruce Museum exhibition"ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection." photo: Joel Breger Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Lawrence grew up in Harl...
Archibald Motley
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 2 months ago
Twitter - Facebook Archibald Motley (1891–1981) was born in New Orleans and lived and painted in Chicago most of his life. But because his subject was African-American life, he’s counted by scholars among the artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Many of Motley’s favorite scenes were inspired by good times on “The Stroll,” a portion of State Street, which during the twenties, the *Encyclopedia of Chicago* says, was “jammed with black humanity night and day.” It was part of the neighborhood then known as Bronzeville, a name inspired by the range of skin color one might see the...
William H. Johnson
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 2 months ago
William H. Johnson, *Jitterbugs (I), *ca. 1940-1941, gouache and pen and ink on paperboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.1063 *Jitterbugs (II)* William H. Johnson, ca. 1941, oil on paperboard. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation. 1967.59.611 By almost any standard, William H. Johnson (1901–1970) can be considered a major American artist. He produced hundreds of works in a virtuosic, eclectic career that spanned several decades as well as several continents. It was not until very recently, however, that his wo...
Red Grooms
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 2 months ago
For over fifty years, American artist Red Grooms (born 1937) has used his brush to capture the great panorama of life. And for over fifty years people have delighted in his luscious, loud, laughing depictions that so uniquely celebrate the famous and the anonymous, the meaningful and the absurd, the high and the low, of twentieth-century America. *Red Grooms, Cedar Bar, 1986. Colored pencil and crayon on five sheets in artist’s wood frame. Yale University Art Gallery, Charles B. Benenson, b.a. 1933, Collection* Executed in colored pencil and watercolor on five large sheets of pa...
Romare Bearden
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 3 months ago
Romare Bearden was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, the seat of Mecklenburg County, on September 2, 1911. About 1914, his family joined in the Great Migration north, settling in New York City, which remained Bearden's base for the rest of his life. He became a prolific artist whose works were exhibited throughout the United States and Europe. He was also a respected writer and an eloquent spokesman on artistic and social issues of the day. His many awards and honors include the National Medal of Arts he received from President Ronald Reagan in 1987, one year before he died in 1...
African American Art - Georgia Museum of Art
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 3 months ago
*Expanding Tradition: Selections from the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection*,” The Thompsons donated 100 works of art by African Americans to the museum in 2012, on the heels of a traveling exhibition drawn from their collection, “Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art.” “Expanding Tradition” is a second exhibition highlighting the couple’s commitment to collecting art over the last several decades through a new selection of works borrowed from their extensive private collection. “Expanding Tradition” also serves as the inaug...
Charles White.
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 3 months ago
With *Charles White: A Retrospective*, The Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago present the first major museum exhibition of Charles White’s oeuvre in over 30 years, on view at The Museum of Modern Art from October 7, 2018, through January 13, 2019. Covering the full breadth of his career with over 100 multidisciplinary works, the exhibition features drawings, paintings, prints, photographs, and contextual ephemera. Prior to its MoMA presentation, the exhibition will be on view at the Art Institute of Chicago from June 8 through September 3, 2018. Following its MoM...
Horace Pippin
Jonathan Kantrowitz, African-American Art - 3 months ago
Philadelphia Museum of Art A bequest includes three important works by the self-taught African American painter Horace Pippin, including *The Getaway* (1939), a stark winter scene in which a fox makes off with a bird in its mouth; *Study for Barracks* (1945), which conveys the everyday activity of African American combat soldiers in a dugout during World War II; and *The Park Bench* (1946), which is often interpreted as a psychological portrait of the artist and was painted in the last year of his life. *Horace Pippin, Domino Players, 1943. Oil on composition board, 12...

German Expressionism from the Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.

27 October 2020 - 14 March 2021

Expresionismo alemán
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Fränzi in front of Carved Chair, 1910. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

When in 1961 Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza acquired Young Couple by Emil Nolde he initiated a change of direction in the Thyssen family’s collecting activities. While his father Henrich Thyssen had assembled a remarkable collection of Old Masters during the interwar period, between the 1960s and 1990s Hans Heinrich would be extremely active as a collector of the principal 20th-century art movements, among which German Expressionism would occupy a pre-eminent place.

In 1993 the Spanish State acquired most of the Thyssen collection and the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza thus came to house a significant representation of German Expressionism, a movement barely represented in Spanish collections. For the first time in decades the present exhibition, German Expressionism from the Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, reunites those works with the group of Expressionist paintings that remained with his wife, Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, and his children. In addition, it offers a new perspective on the paintings through a presentation that departs from their habitual chronological display in the galleries.

Erich Heckel. Casa en Dangast (La casa blanca), 1908
Erich Heckel. House in Dangast (The White House), 1908. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza en depósito en el Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

The exhibition, which is benefiting from the collaboration of Comunidad de Madrid, launches the commemoration at the Museum of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, which takes place in 2021. Next year will see other re-installations and thematic presentations of the Baron’s collection, including the North American paintings and a selection of works normally on long-term deposit from the Thyssen collection at the Museo Nacional de Arte de Catalunya, both scheduled for the autumn of 2021. In addition, a group of sculptures, paintings and examples of goldsmith’s works acquired by the Baron and now in the family collections will be on display from next spring.

German Expressionism from the collection of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza is curated by Paloma Alarcó, Head of Modern Painting at the museum, who has articulated a new vision of the works structured around three concepts: the process of creation of the paintings; their early reception by critics and the public up to their condemnation by the Nazi regime and their subsequent rehabilitation in the post-war period; and the Baron’s relations with his dealers and the exhibition projects that he organised to promote his collection internationally.

The artists: creative processes and dissemination

I felt a different spirit in this art, a spirit of freedom that
 totally broke away from the academic tradition.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Cocina alpina, 1918
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Alpine Kitchen, 1918. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

The expressive brushstrokes and the anti-natural and contrasting colours of the German Expressionists immediately attracted Baron Thyssen’s eye. His interest initially focused on the work of the Dresden-based group Die Brücke [The Bridge] and subsequently on the members of the Blaue Reiter [Blue Rider], active in Murnau and Munich, as well as on other Expressionists working at the same time. All of them shared a way of understanding art that was based on an inner vision of the artist, replacing the imitation of reality with the invention of a new reality.

The members of Die Brücke aimed to extend a “bridge” between the essences of the German past and a utopian future, but also between life and art. For these artists the studio was a laboratory of new ideas and a space which they decorated with sculptures executed in a neo-primitive style, printed Batik fabrics and their own, handmade rustic furniture that reflected their aim of championing a pre-industrial and uncontaminated era. Also essential for this avant-garde movement was the relationship between man and nature, and landscape thus became their outdoor studio.

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. El pueblo de Dangast, 1909
Pie de foto

In the first section of the exhibition, entitled Studios, works such as Fränzi before a carved Chair (1910) and Kneeling Nude before a red Screen (1911-12) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner or Before the red Curtain (1912) by Erich Heckel illustrate the key role of artists’ studios in their paintings. Outdoors, the third section, includes Summer in Nidden (1919-20) by Max Pechstein, Bridge in the Marsh(1910) by Emil Nolde, and Brick Factory(1907) by Erick Heckel. Between these two rooms is one devoted to cultural References, which displays works by the young Expressionists alongside Les Vessenots en Auvers (1890) by Van Gogh, Dusk (1888) by Munch, and Allées et venues (1887) by Gauguin with the aim of revealing the interest that these pioneers of modern art aroused among the German painters, who could have known their works through publications and at first hand from the exhibitions held in various cities in Germany. Van Gogh’s expression of internal emotions through colour, the exotic and primitive element in Gauguin’s work and his new, freedom-loving lifestyle, and Edvard Munch’s radical, existential Expressionism were some of the principal aspects that aroused their admiration. Max Pechstein recalled this years later: “With great pride we felt ourselves the bearers of a mission, artistically linked to the Dutchman Van Gogh and the Norwegian Edvard Munch.”

Paul Klee. Casa giratoria, 1921
Paul Klee. Revolving House, 1921, 183,1921. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Of a much more mystical and symbolic type is the Expressionism of the Blaue Reiter artists: Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, August Macke, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Alexei von Jawlensky and Johannes Itten, among others, who moved towards increasingly abstract ideas.

The connection between tradition and modernity through the abstraction of forms is one of the characteristics shared by many of these artists and is the focus of the exhibition’s next section, Popular Flavour, which includes Bagatelle no. 2 by Kandinsky (1915), Revolving House (1921) by Paul Klee, Galloping Hussars (1913) by August Macke, and The red Veil (1912) and Boy with a Doll (1910) by Jawlensky. Years later the latter would say: “My Russian soul was always close to old Russian art, to icons, Byzantine art, the mosaics at Ravenna, Venice and Rome and Romanesque art. All these artistic forms made my soul vibrate profoundly as in them I felt the true spiritual language.”

Wassily Kandinsky.  Pintura con tres manchas, n. 196, 1914
Wassily Kandinsky. Picture with Three Spots, No. 196, 1914. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Most of these artists wrote manifestos and organised programmatic exhibitions as a means of disseminating their artistic ideas and they gradually gained some public and critical recognition. The next section, Diffusion, brings together some of the works that would eventually enter the Thyssen collection and which were included in the early Blue Rider collective and solo exhibitions, including View of a Square (1912) by Paul Klee, Painting with three Dots (1914) by Kandinsky, Circus (1913) by Macke, and Ships (1917) by Lyonel Feininger.

This growing public awareness of the Expressionists was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. By around 1913 the original Die Brücke group had broken up and each artist pursued his own direction: Macke and Marc died at the front, Kandinsky returned to Russia, and Jawlensky took refuge in Switzerland. In the following decade and while some of the group’s members such as Feningner, Itten, Kandinsky and Klee moved to Weimar then to Dessau to work at the Bauhaus, others such as Grosz and Beckmann visually reflected the internal fragmentation of German society in their work, introducing a powerful allegorical element and an acerbic sarcasm into their paintings.

Politics: persecution and stigmatisation

For me, the fact that these artists had been oppressed by the National Socialist regime and their art officially labelled degenerate was an additional spur to collecting them.

Grosz. Metrópolis
George Grosz. Metropolis, 1916-1917. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

The Expressionists captivated Baron Thyssen due to their colour and expressive force but also for political reasons. For the Baron, collecting was a way of rescuing the memory of a painting and of saving it from the threat of oblivion.

From the time of Hitler’s rise to power the National Socialist regime implemented a strategy of artistic purging, organising various exhibitions that condemned the artists selected for inclusion, of which Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) is the one that has acquired most resonance in the history of 20th-century art. It opened in Munich, the Nazi capital, in July 1937 and travelled to other German cities.

A number of paintings now in the Thyssen collections which were at that period in the collections of German museums were confiscated and derided by the Nazis. The most notable among them is undoubtedly Metropolis (1916-17) by George Grosz. Acquired in 1924 by the Mannheim Kunsthalle, it was seized and included in Entartete Kunst in 1937. Written above Grosz’s paintings was the phrase “Art as a tool of Marxist propaganda against military service.”

Max Beckmann.  Bodegón con rosas amarillas, 1937
Max Beckmann. Still Life with Yellow Roses, 1937. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

While the exhibition was still touring, the Nazi regime decided to sell some of the confiscated works to raise funds for the war. This led to the sale of Nolde’s Summer Clouds (1913) and Erich Heckel’s Portrait of Siddi Heckel (1913). They were subsequently acquired by Baron Thyssen and can now be seen together in this section of the exhibition.

Art dealers: rehabilitation and recovery

After World War II the Expressionists were almost immediately rehabilitated. The early postwar period witnessed an intensive endeavour to reinstate modern German art with the aim of compensating for the adversities it had experienced under Nazism. German museums once again acquired works by this movement and increasing numbers of publications and exhibitions reinstated its positive image in German public opinion. The first exhibition that aimed to revive the memory of Die Brücke was organised in 1948 at the Kunsthalle in Berne but the most important was the major retrospective held at the Museum Folkwang in Essen in 1958. Among the works on display were six oils that subsequently entered the Thyssen collection, including Fränzi before a carved Chair and Doris with Ruff Collar (ca.1906) by Kirchner, and Sun over a Pine Forest (1913) by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.

Ketterer guided me in my discovery of Expressionism. Kirchner became my favourite artist and Ketterer was his executor, so I was close to the source. When Ketterer needed money he sold me something from his own collection. I always chose one of the best pieces, and he resisted [...] he told me that every time it hurt like losing part of himself.

Emil Nolde.  La joven pareja, hacia 1931-1935
Emil Nolde. Young Couple, c. 1931-1935. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collections

Baron Thyssen’s first contact with Expressionist art was through the Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, an auction house owned by Roman Norbert Ketterer which since its opening in Stuttgart in 1946 at the start of the postwar era had been a pioneer in the promotion and sale of modern German and international art, characterised by its firm commitment to reinstating the names of artists classed as “degenerate” by the Third Reich. Ketterer, who moved his headquarters in 1962 to Campione d’Italia, very close to the Villa Favorita, became a good friend of the Baron and was his principal source of Expressionist paintings between 1961 and 1987.

It should be noted that Baron Thyssen began to acquire German Expressionist paintings at the very outset of their reassessment and that his collecting activities significantly contributed to their critical rehabilitation. Nolde’s The young Couple (1931-35), his first purchase from Ketterer in May 1961, was followed by other paintings that same year, including House in Dangast (1908) by Heckel and Horse Fair (1910) by Pechstein, totalling around thirty paintings acquired from this dealer in successive years. Kirchner’s The Bay (ca.1914) would be Ketterer’s last sale to the Baron in 1987. During those years Baron Thyssen also worked with other dealers in 20th-century German art such as Leonard Hutton, from whom he acquired The Dream (1912) by Franz Marc and works by other Blaue Reiter artists.

For years I had unsuccessfully tried to find an important work by Franz Marc on the market. My persistence finally paid off when I was able to buy The Dream of 1913 from Leonard Hutton in New York. Hutton is another dealer who deserves praise for giving the German Expressionists the place they deserve.

Fraz Marc
Franz Marc. The Dream, 1912. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

As a collector Baron Thyssen was interested in the history of the paintings he acquired and was particularly attracted to emblematic works that had a memorable past, of which The Dream is undoubtedly the best example. Franz Marc gave his painting to his fellow artist Kandinsky soon after he finished it. During the time it was in Russia from 1914 to 1921 it remained in the care of Gabriele Münter and on the express desire of the painter’s widow, Maria Marc, it was included in the exhibition held in Munich and Weisbaden in 1916 which commemorated Marc’s death. Years later it was selected for inclusion in the International Exhibition of Modern Art organised by the Société Anonyme and held in New York and other American cities in 1926 and 1927. At the time the Baron purchased it, it still belonged to Kandinsky’s second wife Nina.

The exhibition’s catalogue recounts a large number of these minor or significant stories that lie behind each of the paintings and which have been unearthed through meticulous research that has revealed the details of the works’ “biographies” before and after they were acquired by the Baron.

The collection: a global image / Internationalisation

I began to think that if the early years of the 20th century had produced so many important things in science, technology and other fields, then the art of that period also had to be interesting. [...] My attitude to modern art has changed since then. The contact between the viewer and the object is totally different to that in earlier art. You feel bombarded by effects that produce a nervous stimulus comparable to modern music. Furthermore, modern art allows the viewer more interpretative possibilities which encourage a feeling of greater freedom.

Exposición 1975
Exhibition Moderne Kunst aus der Sammlung Thyssen-Bornemisza, held at the Bremen Kunsthalle from 2 February to 30 March 1975

After inheriting most of his father’s collection following his death in 1947, Baron Thyssen began to acquire paintings with the intention of continuing his activities and for fifteen years he only collected Old Masters. In late 1950, however, he started to feel uncomfortable with the ideas he had inherited from his father, who dismissed modern art. The Baron’s discovery of German Expressionism and his first acquisitions of works by Kirchner, Nolde, Kandinsky and Marc led him to become interested in the major 20th-century art movements, giving rise to an intense focus on collecting works by the avant-gardes during the following decades.

Aside from the undeniable passion for art that always guided his attitude to collecting, Hans Heinrich Thyssen also aimed to create a global image for the collection with a clear emphasis on public access. With this aim in mind, in 1960 he initiated an extremely active international exhibition programme in order to present the different facets of his encyclopaedic collection. This policy of international expansion distanced him from the previous German nationalism that had guided his father and identified him with the values of the new non-aggressive, more modern and international Germany.

Los barones Thyssen en la inauguración de la exposición Espressionismo. Capolavori della Collezione Thyssen-Bornemisza en Villa Favorita, Lugano, 1989
Baron and Baroness Thyssen at the inauguration of the exhibition Espressionismo. Capolavori della Collezione Thyssen-Bornemisza, held at the Villa Favorita, Lugano, in 1989

While some of the Baron’s early German Expressionist acquisitions were included in these international exhibitions on modern art, the first and only monographic one devoted to this part of the Thyssen collection opened at the Villa Favorita in Lugano in 1989 before travelling to Washington, Fort Worth and San Francisco the following year. On that occasion The Ludwigskirche in Munich (1908) by Wassily Kandinsky, which was the front cover image for the accompanying catalogue, was displayed alongside a selection of German Expressionist masterpieces from the Baron’s collection that can once again be seen together in this final section and in the rest of the exhibition, completing this new perspective on the collection.

Exhibition Details

Title: German Expressionism from the collection of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Organiser: Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.

With the collaboration of: Comunidad de Madrid.

Date and venues: Madrid, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, 27 October 2020 to 14 March 2021.

Curator: Paloma Alarcó, Head of Modern Painting at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Number of works: 80

Publications: Catalogue with texts by Guillermo Solana, Paloma Alarcó, Juan Ángel López-Manzanares and Leticia de Cos.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris

 The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) 

March 14, 2021 through July 25, 2021

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) 

September 12, 2021 through January 9, 2022

Featuring More than 40 Paintings and Collages, Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris Explores Gris’s Pivotal Role in Cubism and Innovative Approach to Still Life.

Juan Gris, Newspaper and Fruit Dish, 1916, oil on canvas, Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Collection Société Anonyme. Photo © Yale University Art Gallery

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) and The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) today announced the co-organization of the first U.S. exhibition in over 35 years dedicated to the Spanish artist Juan Gris. Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris highlights the artist’s pioneering and revolutionary contributions to the Cubist movement by focusing on his fascination with subjects drawn from everyday life. Through more than 40 paintings and collages that span all major periods of the artist’s evolving practice, the exhibition reveals the transformation of Gris’s innovative style and principal motifs from 1911 until 1926, one year before his tragically early death at age 40. His exquisite compositions explored the boundary between abstraction and representation, tension and stasis, color and form. As a thorough examination of Gris’s still lifes, Cubism in Color provides an opportunity to reconsider the legacy of this important yet underappreciated modernist master.

Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris is co-curated by Nicole R. Myers, The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art at the DMA, and Katy Rothkopf, the BMA’s Senior Curator and Department Head of European Painting and Sculpture. It will premiere in Dallas from March 14, 2021 through July 25, 2021, and then travel to Baltimore, where it will be presented from September 12, 2021 through January 9, 2022. The exhibition will include important loans from international collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Telefónica Cubist Collection and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain, among others.

“It is extraordinarily rare to see so many works by Juan Gris together, particularly in the United States. We are pleased to bring them together for this exhibition to offer a rich and nuanced re-examination of the artist’s important role in a defining art-historical movement,” said Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “As the DMA aims to explore new or underrepresented narratives in art history through its exhibitions and programs, we’re excited to introduce our audiences to the life and legacy of this principal figure within Cubism.”  

Juan Gris, "Le Canigou," 1921, oil on canvas, Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, Room of Contemporary Art Fund, 1947 (RCA1947:5). Photo: Albright-Knox Art Gallery / Art Resource, NY

“Juan Gris’s incredible use of and experimentation with color and form reverberate across modern and contemporary art movements. The upcoming exhibition offers a fresh opportunity to examine a daring and deeply accomplished yet lesser-studied artist, providing new insights into the development of Cubism and the evolving narrative of art more broadly. We are delighted to collaborate with the DMA on the creation of this exhibition, and we look forward to engaging our many audiences in the brilliance of Gris’s practice,” said Christopher Bedford, the BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. 

Juan Gris, Still Life before an Open Window, Place Ravignan, 1915, oil on canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950.

Born José Victoriano Carmelo Carlos González Pérez in Madrid, Juan Gris (1887–1927) was one of the primary contributors to the development of Cubism in the early 20th century. Though he was championed by art dealers Daniel Kahnweiler and Léonce Rosenberg and writer and art collector Gertrude Stein, who considered him “a perfect painter,” Gris’s pivotal role within the movement has often been overshadowed by his better-known cohorts Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Fernand Léger. His works are among the movement’s most distinctive and inventive, building upon early Cubist precedents with experimental and exquisite still-life compositions distinguished by their vibrant colors, bold patterns, and a constantly shifting approach. By bringing together more than 40 of Gris’s most distinctive still lifes from major European and American collections, Cubism in Color will reveal the virtuosic range of the artist’s short yet prolific career, illuminating his boundary-pushing contributions to Cubism and his assumption of the role of the movement’s leader in the aftermath of World War I. 

Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris begins with Gris’s early paintings, such as Still Life with Flowers, which exemplify Analytic Cubism with faceted shapes and simultaneous viewpoints yet are distinctive in their systematic geometry, crystalline structure, and bright monochromatic palettes. The exhibition then chronicles a series of subsequent stylistic changes in Gris’s practice, starting with his transition to Synthetic Cubism. From about 1913 to early 1916, Gris boldly experimented with trompe-l’oeil, collage, and pointillist techniques in increasingly abstract and dynamic compositions characterized by complex geometric patterns and dazzling colors applied in daring and novel combinations, as seen in The SiphonGuitar and PipeStill Life before an Open WindowPlace RavignanFantômas; and Newspaper and Fruit Dish.

Gris drastically reinvented his style between 1916 and 1920, adopting a more somber palette, simplifying both his motifs and the geometric structure of his compositions, and seeking a greater fusion of subject and ground. This second phase of Cubism, often called Crystal or Classical Cubism, is characterized by its emphasis on the purity and stability of form and composition. Gris was hailed as the leader of this movement, and his work in this period, such as Still Life with NewspaperThe Sideboard; and Guitar and Fruit Dish on a Table, was crucial to the development of Purism by his friends and fellow artists Amédée Ozenfant and Le Corbusier, in addition to reflecting the general “return to order” among the avant-garde following World War I. 

Gris’s late production from 1920 to 1927 demonstrates a renewed interest in rich, vibrant hues and the still life set before an open window, an innovative motif he first introduced to Cubism in 1915 and revisited in works such as Le CanigouThe Painter’s Window; and Mandolin and Fruit Dish. Notable for their harmonious, lyrical quality, these final works embody yet another revolutionary shift in Gris’s aesthetic and approach as he increasingly relied on the geometric, abstract structure of his compositions to determine the still-life components integrated seamlessly within them. A perfect union of what Gris called “flat, colored architecture,” these works are a lasting testament to his constant reinvention of Cubism and the deceivingly simple concept of the still life. 

“Gris was a prodigious talent, achieving an incredible body of work in the short period he was active as an artist. Just two years after he started painting, he emerged as a quintessential member of the Cubist group with a distinct style that is remarkable for its extraordinary refinement and rich color,” said Myers. “His great ability to grasp, adapt, and repeatedly transform the Cubist aesthetic makes worthy a deeper consideration not only of his production, but of the role he played in shaping modern art in the first quarter of the 20th century.”

“This exhibition gives us the wonderful opportunity to highlight major works by Gris in both the DMA’s and BMA’s collections, putting them into a new context for the first time in decades,” said Rothkopf. “Seeing how Gris took the same motifs of musical instruments, playing cards, newspapers, bottles, glasses, and table tops and used them in his still-life compositions in different and innovative ways throughout his brief but productive career is extraordinary.”  

Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris will be accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue co-published by the DMA and BMA. The publication will include essays on Gris’s artistic process and legacy by co-curators Nicole R. Myers and Katy Rothkopf; Anna Katherine Brodbeck, the DMA’s Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art; Paloma Esteban Leal, Senior Curator of Painting and Drawing, 1881–1939, at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; and Harry Cooper, Senior Curator and Head of Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Sotheby’s To Offer A Rare Biblical Masterpiece By Rembrandt van Rijn, as well as Sandro Botticelli's 15th-century portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel,

Sotheby’s has announced that an extraordinary and rare biblical scene by Dutch Golden Age master Rembrandt van Rijn will be a highlight of itsannual New York Masters Week sale series in January 2021.

Measuring just 6 ½ by 8 ⅜ inches (16 x 21cm), Abraham and the Angels is a profoundly beautiful, gem-like painting on panel from 1646 that stands among the finest works by Rembrandt ever to come to auction. The painting last appeared at auction in London in 1848, when it sold for £64, and returns to the block this January with an estimate of $20/30 million. The work was recently the principal subject of an exhibition at the Frick Museum in New York in 2017 dedicated to Rembrandt’s depictions of Abraham from the Book of Genesis.

Of the total 136 biblical paintings Rembrandt produced, the present work is one of only five remaining in private hands, with the large majority in prominent museum collections. Among these biblical paintings, only 29 depict Old Testament scenes, with the present panel representing one of only two examples in private hands – the other being a portrait of King Uzziah stricken with Leprosy, which resides in the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth House. As such, Sotheby’s January auction of Abraham and the Angels marks an exceedingly rare opportunity for collectors to acquire a masterpiece of this important subject by the artist.


Just this summer, Sotheby’s achieved a new auction record for a self-portrait by Rembrandt when Self-portrait of the artist sold for $18.7 million in our London sale Rembrandt to Richter (July 2020). In December 2018, the Louvre Abu Dhabi acquired the artist’s work Head of a young man, with clasped hands: Study of the figure of Christ from a Sotheby’s London auction for $12.1 million. The work, which was identified as a Rembrandt in the 1930s, belongs to a series of oil sketches referred to as his “Face of Jesus” group. Prior to that sale, the last biblical scene to appear at auction was Saint James the Greater from 1661, which sold for $25.8 million at Sotheby’s New York in 2007.

"We are honored to be entrusted with this exceptionally beautiful image from one of Rembrandt’s celebrated Old Testament scenes. The subject of Abraham visited by three angels proved a fruitful source for etchings and engravings, but this was Rembrandt’s only painting of the story. Painted in the 1640s, when the artist was moving into a more thoughtful and deeply emotional period of his career, this gem-like panel is an outstanding example of the artist’s ability to depict a complex and moving composition on a small scale. With the vast majority of his biblical scenes in institutional collections, it is extremely rare to see such a major work at auction – with this one making its last appearance nearly 175 years ago. Outside of its rarity and condition, which is pristine, it is among the very few works by the artist whose authorship has never been questioned and is an indisputable masterpiece by the artist.”

While Rembrandt is largely known for his portraiture, these works were just one aspect of his artistic expression. It is, arguably, in his historical scenes – comprising mythological, biblical and allegorical scenes, in addition to landscapes – where he found the freedom to express himself, and to experiment more freely. Painted in 1646, during an emotionally-turbulent yet highly productive period of his life, Abraham and the Angels depicts the precise moment when God, the principal source of light in the scene, reveals to Abraham that his elderly wife Sarah will bear him a son, Isaac, within a year. We can almost make out the smile on the disbelieving Sarah’s face, as she leans out of the door to their house and overhears the proclamation of the Lord.

As is typical of the artist's work of the 1640s, in which he moved away from the highly Baroque concept of capturing the most dramatic instance of a story, in favor of a more subtle rendering worthy of thoughtful observation, Rembrandt chose to illustrate the most emotionally poignant moment of the story – conveyed solely by light and a single, gently raised hand.

In addition to being one of the most well-documented paintings by Rembrandt in existence, this work also boasts an impeccable provenance, nearly unbroken from the year after its execution to the present day. Traceable to a transaction in Amsterdam in 1647 between Martin van den Broeck and Andries Ackersloot, the picture has passed through the collections of a number of notable figures including: Rembrandt’s former pupil Ferdinand Bol; 17th century merchant and Amsterdam mayor Jan Six; and with the American expatriate painter Benjamin West. After passing through several other hands, including the important collection of Sir Thomas Baring in the mid-19th century, the work entered the celebrated Pannwitz Collection in Heemstede, later to be folded into the Aurora Trust – where it had remained with the Pannwitz family for at least 90 years. The painting has remained in the same collection since it was last sold privately in 2005.

The work has been publicly exhibited only a handful of times over the years, recently appearing in Rembrandt’s Journey: Painter, Draftsman, Etcher at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston & The Art Institute of Chicago in 2004, at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin in 2006, and most recently as the subject of the Divine Encounter: Rembrandt’s Abraham and the Angels at the Frick Museum in New York City in 2017.

The auction will be preceded by a series of previews in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and London, before returning to New York for our Masters Week exhibition in January. 

In addition to Rembrandt's Abraham and the Angels, the January sale series will be headlined by Sandro Botticelli's 15th-century portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel, estimated in excess of $80 million.

It was in Early Renaissance Italy that portraits of notable individuals first came to be considered high art. Florentine master Sandro Botticelli was at the forefront of this transformation, depicting his subjects in the second half of the 15th century with unprecedented directness and insight – decades before Leonardo da Vinci painted his enduring Mona Lisa. Botticelli was celebrated in his own time and sought out, from an early age, by the richest of patrons for commissions that only they could afford. But while he created some of the most arresting and penetrating portraits in the history of Western Art, only around a dozen examples have survived today – with almost all of them now residing in major museum collections. Sotheby’s will offer one of Botticelli’s very finest portraits, Young Man Holding a Roundel, as the highlight of our annual Masters Week sales series in New York in January 2021. Estimate available upon request, the work will establish art market history as one of the most significant portraits, of any period, ever to appear at auction – alongside Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (sold in 2006 for $87.9 million) and Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr Gachet (sold in 1990 for $82.5 million).


Young Man Holding a Roundel is the pictorial synthesis of the ideals, the magic and the beauty of Renaissance Florence where, for the first time since antiquity, the individual and the human figure were at the center of both life and art, and would come to define our understanding of humanism as we know it today. Botticelli was at the vanguard of this movement, and his revolutionary style led him to be one of the first artists to abandon the tradition of depicting sitters in profile. Yet for all it embodies of the Florentine Renaissance, the painting is timelessly modern in its stark simplicity, bold colors, and graphic linearity.

“In the popular imagination, no other painter evokes the golden age of the Florentine Renaissance more powerfully than Sandro Botticelli. His Birth of Venus and Primavera are among the most famous works in the canon of Western Art. His nymphs, goddesses, Madonnas and saints populate our imagination as representatives of the rebirth of science, art, and literature in a city that laid the foundation for the modern world. It is in his portraits, however, that Botticelli most clearly opens a window onto the world of Renaissance Florence – never more so than in Young Man Holding a Roundel, a painting that encapsulates the intellectual, courtly and humanistic virtues that define the Italian Renaissance.”

Christopher Apostle on the Importance of Sandro Botticelli