Karl Caspar, Baptism of Christ, 1917

Oscar Kokoschka, Kreuzingung (Crucifixion), lithograph, 1916

Lovis Crointh, Kain (Cain), lithograph, 1915

ABOUT THIS COLLECTION

CALENDAR

GALLERY

“God is dead…And we have killed him.”

—Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 1882

 

 

“Could it be possible? This old saint in the forest has not yet heard anything of this, that God is dead!”

 —Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1891

 

 

In the first decades of the twentieth century, the writings of the atheistic philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche were a powerful inspiration for the artistic and literary avant-garde communities in Berlin, Dresden, and Munich. His exuberant affirmation of the “vital forces” of life, anti-authoritarian iconoclasm, and withering condemnation of Christianity inspired artists and writers in their search for a new future that would liberate humanity from the suffocating aesthetic, cultural, political, and religious conventions derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition.

 

Yet, why does biblical imagery saturate Expressionist literature and the visual arts? Was God Dead? Biblical Imagination in German Expressionist Prints explores this question through a broad survey of nearly fifty works from such important artists as Max Beckmann, Lovis Corinth, Kathë Kollwitz, Otto Dix, Christian Rohlfs, Schmidt-Rottloff, Vassily Kandinsky, and Edvard Munch, among many other important representatives of Expressionism, including key members of the influential avant-garde movements Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter.

 

Was God Dead? demonstrates the important role that Biblical imagery played in the German Expressionists’ subject matter, which deepened the impact of their innovations in medium and form.

 

The exhibition shows the importance of printmaking for the German Expressionists, a medium that had fallen out of favor in advanced artistic circles by the end of the nineteenth century. But, as Ernst Kirchner exclaimed, “There is no better place to get to know an artist than in his graphic work.” Not only was it an intimate and powerful aesthetic medium, printmaking also connected the artists to a distinguished tradition in German art, evidenced by the work of Lucas Cranach, Martin Schongauer, and most importantly, Albrecht Dürer (included in the exhibition). The legacy of the medium was not merely an artistic one, but had revolutionary resonances with the Protestant Reformation, which Luther and Cranach waged through the printing press.

 

Was God dead? also shows the formal and stylistic impact of native German folk traditions as well as African tribal artifacts (included in the exhibition). The German Expressionists’ interest in appropriating a so-called “primitive” aesthetic was a means to tap into what they hoped was a deeper well of spirituality, feeling, and creative freedom than offered by traditional European aesthetics and culture as preserved by the official art of the academies.

 

Was God Dead? reveals the continued potential of the Judeo-Christian tradition to influence generations of modern and avant-garde artists. The Bible gave form and expression to the intensity of modern experience, even an experience that, with the catastrophe of the First World War, transformed euphoric optimism into humanity’s potential into the darkest nihilistic despair. These prints show that for the German Expressionists, God was very much alive.

 

This show contains:

  • Over 50 prints, exact number to be determined
  • Digital files for each print
  • Digital file for the printing of a handout
  • Text for labels and didactic panels
  • Packing and shipping instructions
  • Insurance in transit
  • One free catalog for display
  • Availability of show catalog for sale

 

This show rents for $1000 for four weeks. With the rental of two months, the third is offered at no charge.

January 7 to February 23, 2019

Center Art Gallery | Calvin College

1795 Knollcrest Circle | Grand Rapids, MI 49456

 

Contact: Brent Williams

Bsw6@calvin.edue | 616-526-6947

This collection is divided into several categories or themes.

  • Death (7)

    Ernst Barlach, Dance of Death, lithograph

     

    Ernst Barlach, Mors Imperator (Emperor Death), woodcut, 1919

     

    Kathë Kollwitz, Death, Woman and Child, etching, 1911

     

    Kathë Kollwitz, Inspiration, etching, 1907

     

    Kathë Kollwitz, Aus vielen Wunden blutest du, o Volk (You Bleed from Many Wounds, O People), etching, 1896

     

    Franz Masereel, Funeral Scene, Woodcut, 1956

     

    Richard Seewald, Aus dem Camposanto (From the Holy Field), woodcut, 1922

  • Life of Christ (15)

    Karl Caspar, Visitation, lithograph, 1920

     

    Kathë Kollwitz, Visitation, woodcut, 1928

     

    Max Pechstein, Der Saugling (Infant), woodcut, 1913

     

    Christian Rohlfs, Three Kings, woodcut, 1910

     

    Oscar Kokoschka, Flight to Egypt, lithograph, 1916

     

    Alfred Kubin, Flight to Egypt, lithograph, 1920

     

    Karl Caspar, Baptism of Christ, 1917

     

    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Great Catch of Fishes, woodcut, 1918

     

    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Christ among the Women, woodcut, 1919

     

    Johannes Theil, Der Kinderfreund (The Children’s Friend), drypoint

     

    Christian Rohlfs, Return of the Prodigal Son, woodcut, 1916

     

    Richard Seewald, The Shepherd, woodcut, 1919

     

     Christian Rohlfs, Beratung (Advise), woodcut, 1913

     

     Max Kaus, Man by a Well, Lithograph, 1918

     

     Ernst Barlach, Anno Domini, Lithograph, 1916

     

  • Passion of Christ (14)

    Otto Dix, Last Supper, lithograph, 1960

     

    Otto Dix, Sacrificial Lamb, Lithograph, 1960

     

    Oscar Kokoschka, The Passion

     

    Oscar Kokoschka, Last Supper, lithograph, 1916

     

    Oscar Kokoschka, Cristus am Ölberg (Gethsemane), lithograph, 1916

     

    Oscar Kokoschka, The Kiss, lithograph, 1916

     

    Oscar Kokoschka, Kreuzingung (Crucifixion), lithograph, 1916

     

    Oscar Kokoschka, Auferstehung (Resurrection), lithograph, 1916

     

    Lovis Corinth, Kreuzingung (Crucifixion), woodcut, 1919

     

    Lovis Corinth, Crucifixion, drypoint, 1921/22

     

    Lovis Corinth, Pietà, drypoint, 1921/22

     

    Max Pechstein, Judas, woodcut

     

    Max Beckmann, Christus und Pilatus (Christ and Pilate), lithograph, 1946

     

    Lovis Corinth, Christ Carrying the Cross, lithograph, 1923

     

    Franz Masereel, Crucifixion, woodcut, 1924

     

  • Old Testament (9)

    Ernst Barlach, First Day of Creation, woodcut, 1922

     

    Ernst Barlach, The Hills, woodcut, 1922

     

    Lovis Corinth, Die Vertreibung aus dem Paradies (Expulsion from Paradise), lithograph,    1920/21

     

    Lovis Crointh, Kain (Cain), lithograph, 1915

     

    Otto Dix, Abraham and Isaac, lithograph, 1960

     

    Christian Rohlfs, Elijah in the Desert, woodcut, 1912

     

    Christian Rohlfs, Die Vertreibung aus dem Paradies (Expulsion from Paradise), lithograph, 1919

     

    Max Beckmann, Jacob ringt mit dem Engel (Jacob with the Angel), etching, 1920

     

    Alfred Kokoschka, Absalom’s Death, lithograph, 1966-9

  • Apocalypse (7)

    Gerhard Marcks, Angel of Cologne, woodcut, 1946

     

    Edvard Munch, Wanderer and Ragpicker (two images) woodcut, 1957

     

    Wassily Kandinsky, Improvisation IV, lithograph. 1936

     

    Ernst Barlach, Ode to Joy, woodcut, 1927

     

    Karl Caspar, Johannes auf Patmos (John at Patmos), lithograph, 1919

     

    Ernst Barlach, Erst Sieg, dann Frieden (First Victory, then Peace, then Freedom), lithograph, 1916

     

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Harvest, woodcut, 1923

     

  • Heads (6)

    Max Kaus, Head of Man, woodcut, 1920

     

    Max Pechstein, Maske, woodcut, 1918

     

    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Koph (Head of Christ), woodcut, 1918

     

    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Koph (Head), woodcut

     

    Otto Dix, Christus, lithograph, 1957

     

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, How Josua Grüber Found His Way, woodcut, 1923

  • Books (5)

    Max Kaus, Neben der Heerstrasse (book) 1923

     

    Oscar Kokoschka, by Plaut, James S., two lithograph images, 1948

     

    Franz Masereel, The Eternal Jew, with woodcuts, 1923

     

    Otto Dix, Matthäus Evangelium, contains 33 lithographs, 1960

     

    Ernst Barlach, Die Wandlungen Gotts (Transformations of God, 1922)

  • Historic Connections (4)

    16th Century German Woodcuts:

     

    Dürer, Resurrection, 1510

     

    Unknown, Emmaus Supper

     

    African Masks: (2)

     

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