Anti-fascist art: German Expressionism at the New Walk Museum.

Ernst Neuschul, 'Die Schminkende', oil on canvas 1931

Ernst Neuschul, ‘Die Schminkende’, oil on canvas 1931

Friday 30 Jan, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

Discussion to be introduced by Sonja Grossner who will talk about the importance of these artists expressing the dangers of the society they lived in.

The German expressionist collection of the Leicester New Walk Museum & Art Gallery has recently been redisplayed in a new space.

The collection includes works by renowned artists such as Paul Klee, Max Beckmann, Lyonel Feininger, Ernst Kirchner, Max Liebermann, Franz Marc, and Wassily Kandinsky, was founded during World War II when Trevor Thomas, the director at the time, befriended a family of Jewish German refugees.

Expressionism centred around a rejection of Impressionism, focusing instead on the inner emotions that lay behind the external world of appearances. The horror of World War 1 and its aftermath however, witnessed the rise of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). This was an abrupt departure from the utopian vision of expressionism in favour of works, which increasingly depicted everyday life in a detached, observational style.

Two portraits with a New Objectivity feel are Messias, 1919, oil, by Ernst Neuschul, and Self-portrait with a Cat, oil, 1928 by Lotte Laserstein, showing the artist in her Berlin studio, a beautiful and aloof cat on her lap. Both artists fell foul of the Nazis, Neuschul having his paintings vandalised by stormtroops and Laserstein forced to close her studio on account of her Jewish roots. Other artists represented in the German collection at Leicester include Bloch, Beckmann, Corinth, Dix, Kollwitz and Liebermann.

Expressionist art continues to fascinate today and the ”Expressionism and Beyond• gallery at the New Walk Museum provides a rich and memorable visual record of artists searching for an authentic essential reality, whether depicting portraits, scenes of city life or rural images of country and coast.

The exihibition includes sculptures by Sonja’s mother, Margarete Klopfleisch

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