New acquisitions

A museum thrives on its research activities, the intensive communication of that scholarly work, and not least of all the expansion of its holdings. With targeted purchases and gifts, we continually enlarge and round out the collection, while also developing it further with regard to quality.

New acquisitions make their way into the collection by many routes: purchases are carried out with funds from our own budget or support from foundations or private persons. In keeping with longstanding tradition, the Städelscher Museums-Verein also buys works for the Städel. What is more – entirely in the spirit of Johann Friedrich Städel – we are frequently the recipients of generous gifts from private persons and artists. In the area of contemporary art, new acquisitions also come to the collection through the dedication of the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert, a support society unique in Europe. The following is a selection of the Städel’s most recent acquisitions.

Our most recent purchases and donations round out the Städel Museum collection

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    Richard Oelze: Archaic Fragment (1935)

    Richard Oelze: Archaic Fragment (1935)

    The painting “Archaic Fragment” is a magnum opus by the German Surrealist Richard Oelze and represents a significant enhancement to the Frankfurt museum’s Surrealist holdings. With the generous support from the Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States and a contribution from the Kurt and Marga Möllgaard Foundation, the Städelscher Museums-Verein and the Städel Museum have jointly purchased the work from a private collection.

    Long thought lost, the work is one of only three large-scale canvases from the artist’s most important creative period in Paris. The other two – “Expectation” (1935–36) and “Everyday Torments” (1934) – are now in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Kunstsammlung NRW in Düsseldorf, respectively.

    Richard Oelze cultivated contacts with the chief exponents of the Surrealist movement – among them André Breton, Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy and Salvador Dalí – whose ideas and styles left distinct marks on his oeuvre. The artists of this group were primarily interested in themes that ran contrary to human logic: dreams, visions and explorations of the subconscious. In “Archaic Fragment”, the fantastical motifs of the Surrealists combine with the precise painting style of New Objectivity, which Oelze had learned from his Dresden teachers Otto Dix and Richard Müller. And although this precision applies to even the smallest details, the depiction as a whole defies conclusive interpretation. A hybrid entity of plant, animal and human forms hovers as if alive before an imaginary landscape. It is a meeting of the familiar and the strange which, in keeping with Surrealist logic, unite to form an unsettling fabrication of the subconscious. Yet the artist also plays with erotic undertones and sparks the fears and desires that slumber in the human psyche like “archaic fragments”.

    About the artist

    Richard Oelze studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar from 1921 to 1925. From 1926 to 1929 he lived in Dresden; in 1933 he went to Paris. He was called up for war service in 1940, and following his return, he began painting again, if initially with some hesitation. The decade following his first solo exhibition, which took place at the “moderne galerie” in Cologne in 1950, would prove be one of his most productive periods. He figured prominently at the Documenta II (1959). In 1969 he was one of three artists representing Germany at the Venice Biennale. Among his numerous distinctions is the Max Beckmann Prize of the city of Frankfurt am Main, which he received in 1978, two years before his death.

    Richard Oelze (1900–1980)
    Archaic Fragment, 1935
    Oil on canvas, 98 x 130 cm
    Joint property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e. V. and the Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Acquired with support from the Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States and a contribution from the Kurt and Marga Möllgaard Foundation
    © Estate of Richard Oelze

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    Frank Auerbach: Self-Portrait (2017)

    Frank Auerbach: Self-Portrait (2017)

    The Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V. acquired this striking self-portrait in graphite in 2017 with funds from the Jürgen R. und Eva-Maria Mann Stiftung. So far as is known, it is the first acquisition of a work by Frank Auerbach for a German museum. It enhances the Städel’s holdings of contemporary British figurative art with a work by another important exponent of that school.

    Like all of Auerbach’s major drawings (that is, drawings that can be considered finished artworks as opposed to mere sketches), this self-portrait was the result of many weeks of sittings, at each of which the artist draws one picture. If it does not bear up to his critical appraisal at the next sitting, he erases it and starts over again on the same sheet of paper. With rapid, forcefully applied lines, the artist shows himself here with the corners of his mouth turned upward in a restrained smile. Traces of the previous endeavours underlie the portrait like grey shadows and lend it a certain dynamic.

    The constant process of re-seeing and re-creating is typical of Auerbach. His concern is not with resemblance or the representation of outward appearances but with insight. “I try to translate what I see into what is”, the artist explained in an interview in 1986, “and then paint what is”.

    About the artist

    In 1939, when Frank Auerbach was seven years old, his parents arranged for him to flee from Berlin to England; they themselves were killed in the Holocaust. Auerbach began studying art in London in 1948. His most important teacher would be David Bromberg. He had his first show at the Beaux Arts Gallery in London in 1956. Along with his friends Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Leon Kossoff, Auerbach is today considered one of the most important figurative painters of the post-war period in England.

    Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
    Self-Portrait, 2017
    Graphite on paper
    76.8 × 57.5 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Acquired in 2017 with funds from the Jürgen R. und Eva-Maria Mann Stiftung
    Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.
    © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

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    Lucian Freud: Pluto (1988)

    Lucian Freud: Pluto (1988)

    Already back in 1994, funds from the Heinz und Gisela Friederichs Stiftung enabled the Städel Museum to acquire a print by Lucian Freud – “Large Head”, a powerful portrait of the bald-headed performance artist Leigh Bowery. And in 2018, once again thanks to the dedication of the Friederichs Stiftung, Freud’s etching “Pluto” of 1988 has likewise entered the Städel’s collection of prints and drawings.

    The etching grants us a close-up view of the artist’s whippet snuggling up to the reclining woman behind it and dozing. “I like people to look as natural and as physically at ease as animals, as Pluto my whippet”, Freud once said in an interview. What he meant was the unaffected creatureliness that also accounted in great part for his fascination with his human models. On the advice of his friend the artist Frank Auerbach, Freud had the printing plate cut to such a radical degree that the female figure ends, quite startlingly, above the shoulder. The whippet’s right front paw had been cut off by the edge of the plate from the start. Thus suspended between the plate’s edges, the image concentrates not only on the sleeping dog, but especially on the close attachment between human and animal expressed in their mutual physical contact: the woman’s hand on the dog’s back, the dog’s head on the woman’s foot. Shaded by hand in a greyish hue in some parts, this etching is perhaps one of the most intimate of Lucian Freud’s works of printmaking.

    About the artist

    Lucian Freud was born in Berlin in 1922. His father, a son of the Viennese psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, was an architect. The assimilated Jewish family emigrated to England in 1933 after the National Socialists came to power. Lucian Freud is today considered one of Great Britain’s outstanding contemporary figurative artists.

    Lucian Freud (1922–2011)
    Pluto, 1988
    Etching and drypoint on Somerset Satin White wove paper, partially shaded by the artist in watercolour
    32.2 × 60.4 cm (plate); 41.5 × 68.7 cm (sheet)
    Copy 20 of the published edition of 40
    Printed by Mark Balakjian, London; published by: James Kirkman and Brooke Alexander, London and New York
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Acquired in 2018 with funds from the Heinz und Gisela Friederichs Stiftung and the Städelsches Kunstinstitut
    © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images

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    Giacinto Brandi: A Hermit Saint (ca. 1670/80)

    Giacinto Brandi: A Hermit Saint (ca. 1670/80)

    This hitherto unknown work came to the Städel in late 2017 as a generous gift from a private owner. A late example of the chiaroscuro painting style first developed by Caravaggio and Ribera, it makes a splendid addition to our collection of Baroque paintings from Rome and Naples.

    The picture shows a seated saint as a half-length figure, his hands folded in prayer and one arm resting on a pile of books. With a sudden movement, the aged, white-haired man turns, directing his gaze towards heaven as though an angel or the Lord himself was appearing to him there. From the same direction, a bright beam of light falls on him, setting his illuminated figure off against the surrounding darkness. His naked body, covered only by a cloak draped around his loins and his left arm, is vigorous but marked by age and privation. This is clearly a saint who spends his life in penance and prayer as a hermit in the wilderness. He could be St Paul the Hermit, or possibly St Jerome or St Bartholomew. No distinctive attributes are shown.

    About the artist

    On stylistic grounds, the work can with all likelihood be attributed to the Roman Baroque painter Giacinto Brandi. In the second half of the seventeenth century, Brandi executed frescoes and altarpieces for a large number of important churches and served more than once as head of the Academy of Painting (Accademia di San Luca) in Rome. Artistically, he was influenced mainly by the works of his teacher Giovanni Lanfranco and his friend Mattia Preti. For this painting, however, Brandi – an artist as yet barely represented in German collections – took his inspiration from Saint Paul the Hermit by Jusepe de Ribera (Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum).

    Giacinto Brandi (1621–1691)
    A Hermit Saint (Paulus Eremita?), ca. 1670/80
    Oil on canvas
    111 x 89 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Acquired in 2017 as a gift from private holdings

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    Frank Stella: Cieszowa III (1973)

    Frank Stella: Cieszowa III (1973)

    The Städel Museum has recently acquired a work from the “Polish Village” series by the American artist Frank Stella (b. 1936): “Cieszowa III” (1973). The Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert funded the purchase.

    In his artistic work, Frank Stella strove to extend two-dimensional, abstract painting into real space. From 1970 onward, he developed several series in which he expanded the uniform picture plane, not only visually but also physically, by departing from the traditional flat format of the canvas. Executed in 1973, “Cieszowa III” forms part of the “Polish Village” series on which he worked from the 1970s onwards, and which represents a major turning point in his artistic oeuvre. In this series, Stella made reference to the visual culture of the Polish Jews whose wooden synagogues, dating from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, were destroyed by the National Socialists. He dedicated a large-scale wall relief to every town that had once had such a synagogue. Translating the architectural lines into wall reliefs consisting of various-coloured elements, he produced geometrical works that make a powerful artistic statement to keep alive the memory of historic buildings destroyed in war. The “Polish Village” series is innovative in both appearance and technique. The artist retained the irregular forms of his “shaped canvases” of the late 1960s, but replaced the minimalism of his earlier paintings with three-dimensional reliefs that project forwards from the picture plane into the surrounding space. His aim was not to paint a painting, but – to use his own expression – “construct” it, and to break through the boundaries of two-dimensional space. For his wall reliefs he used unusual materials not normally associated with art, for example fabric, felt, wood and aluminium.

    About the Artist

    Frank Stella (b. Malden, MA, 1936) studied history at Princeton University in New Jersey from 1954 to 1958. After completing his Bachelor’s degree he moved to New York, where he came into contact with artists such as Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Jasper Johns and Mark Rothko. Deriving from the principle of all-over painting, the compositions of his “Black Series” and “shaped canvases” are based on a combination of geometrical construction and the free development of coloured areas. The painted lines reach to the very edges of the canvases. Today Stella’s works are to be found in famous collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

    Frank Stella (*1936)
    Cieszowa III, 1973
    acrylic, fabric, felt and canvas on a construction of particle board and cardboard
    243.8 x 228.6 cm
    Purchased in 2016 with funds from the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert
    Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

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    Wilhelm Freddie: Pro Patria (1941)

    Wilhelm Freddie: Pro Patria (1941)

    With the acquisition of the painting “Pro Patria” (1941) by Wilhelm Freddie (1909–1995), the Städel Museum is adding an important surrealist painter to its modern art collection. The painting was purchased to mark the departure of Felix Krämer (Head of the Modern Art Department at the Städel Museum from 2008 to 2017) using funds from the Werner Wirthle estate.

    When Freddie executed the painting “Pro Patria” in 1941, he had already been barred from entering Germany for some years because of his political views. Motifs such as the half-open coffin at the right or the man on the left leaning out through a hole in the wall in a strangely lifeless manner, his legs bound with a gag, evoke a sinister, morbid atmosphere that contrasts bizarrely with the laughing boy who seems to be running joyfully towards the viewer. Prominently placed, he holds the Danish flag, the “Dannebrog”, which here – in the middle of the period of National Socialist occupation – functions as a patriotic icon, powerfully conveying Freddie’s resolute political stance.

    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Wilhelm Freddie was born in Copenhagen in 1909. From the 1920s onwards, he undertook an in-depth exploration of the fantastical creations of the French surrealists. By 1930 he was exhibiting alongside such artists as Man Ray, René Magritte and Salvador Dalí at the Free Autumn Exhibition in Copenhagen, and he quickly became the most significant exponent of surrealism in Denmark. Stylistically his works reflect an artistic dialogue with the veristic surrealism of Magritte and Dalí and are characterized by a dreamlike atmosphere. During the German occupation of Denmark, the artist – proscribed by the National Socialists as “degenerate” – was also persecuted on political grounds because of the often explicitly antifascist content of his works, and in 1944 he fled into exile in Sweden. In 1947 André Breton invited him to take part in the surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Maeght in Paris, and he was prominently represented there with three paintings. In 1989, a few years before his death, the National Gallery in Copenhagen honoured his life’s work with a large-scale retrospective exhibition.

    Wilhelm Freddie (1909–1995)
    Pro Patria, 1941
    Oil on canvas
    100.4 x 77.0 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Purchased 2017 with funds from the Werner Wirthle estate to mark the departure of Felix Krämer (Head of the Modern Art Department at the Städel Museum, 2008–2017)
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

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    Mary Heilmann: The Red Square (1978)

    Mary Heilmann: The Red Square (1978)

    The Städel Museum now has an important early work by the American painter Mary Heilmann (b. 1940) in its holdings: The Red Square (1978). The painting, which consists of two separate canvasses, was purchased with the help of the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert.
    In geometric paintings combining De Stijl and minimal art, Mary Heilmann links constructivism with expressionism and a prosaic formal language with vivid contrasting colours. The Red Square (1978) consists of two square canvasses of different sizes, originally two independent works now firmly screwed to one another on the back. Inspired by geometric and colour-field painting, it displays nothing but a single red square on each of its parts. In each case the square has decidedly shifted away from the centre of the monochrome beige surface. The rigour of the monochrome geometry is relieved by eccentrically placed splatters of red paint. The latter are not, of course, products of mere chance but entirely deliberate, and clearly break with the paintings’ minimalist clarity. One important characteristic of Heilmann’s non-representational works is her use of colour contrasts. The Red Square is a case in point: the vibrant red of the square forms stands out distinctly against the lighter background. Heilmann’s work falls into line with the artistic œuvres of Josef Albers, Ad Reinhardt and Kenneth Noland – all important exponents of minimal art and colour-field painting likewise represented in the Städel Museum collection. At the same time, the artist has extended their pictorial concept into space and the present by joining the two canvasses and thus emphasizing their object-like character.

    About the artist

    From 1959 and 1963, Mary Heilmann (b. in San Francisco, California in 1940) studied literature, poetry, pottery and sculpture at the University of California in Santa Barbara, San Francisco State University, and the University of California in Berkeley. In Berkeley she made the acquaintance of the pop art painter David Hockney, who would have a formative influence on her artistic work. In 1968 she moved to New York, where she still lives and works today. There she initially associated with minimal and concept art circles. To this day, her paintings– distinguished, as they are, by an abstract formal language and clear colour symbolism – still bear the stamp of that artistic milieu. The University of Hartford awarded Heilmann an honorary doctorate in 2012. Numerous international museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, have examples of her work in their holdings.

    Mary Heilmann, (*1940)
    The Red Square, 1978
    Acrylic and latex on canvas
    76.2 x 137.2 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Acquired in 2016 with funds from the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert, property of the Städelscher Museums-Vereins e.V.
    © Mary Heilmann

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    François Gérard: Orpheus Trying to Keep Hold of Eurydice (ca. 1791)

    François Gérard: Orpheus Trying to Keep Hold of Eurydice (ca. 1791)

    François Gérard is an artist hitherto not represented in the Städel Museum’s collection of prints and drawings. Thanks to a generous gift, this drawing now enhances the department’s rich eighteenth and nineteenth-century holdings with a Neoclassicist work.
    The tragic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of the great myths of classical antiquity. Virgil recounted it in the Georgics, Ovid in the Metamorphoses, and the tale has inspired countless artistic interpretations by musicians, painters and poets of the Middle Ages to the present. In despair over his wife’s violent death, Orpheus goes down to the underworld. With his music he seeks to convince the gods to return his beloved Eurydice to him. His wish is granted, but under one condition: that, as the two make their way up from Hades, he must not turn around to look at her. Seized with doubt, however, Orpheus turns around – and loses Eurydice forever: “She spoke, and suddenly fled, far from his eyes, like smoke vanishing in thin air, and never saw him more”, writes Virgil. This is precisely the instant described by Gérard’s dramatic composition. Orpheus’s abrupt movement has flung his cloak aside in sweeping folds to expose his naked body as it twists around. He holds the lifeless Eurydice in his arms. White heightening gives her body a deathly pale cast. And in keeping with Virgil’s account, Gérard has surrounded her with billows of smoke that drift away into the darkness of rocks rendered in black ink. In the two figures, the artist has masterfully captured the contrast between life and death.

    About the artist

    In 1786, François Gérard (1770–1837) entered training with Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825), one of France’s most influential history and portrait painters. David’s Neoclassicist artistic language, combining austere form with splendid colour, would have a strong impact on Gérard. The teacher moreover paved his talented student’s way to various commissions. In the 1790s, Gérard carried out a number of drawings for the publisher Pierre Didot to serve as the basis for illustrations in large-scale luxury editions of classical and modern literature. It was also in this context that he executed "Orpheus Trying to Keep Hold of Eurydice", the drawing donated to the Städel Museum in 2017. An engraving of the inverted composition appears in Didot’s 1798 edition of Virgil’s Georgics, the first volume of the publication project initiated by David.

    François Gérard (1770–1837)
    Orpheus Trying to Keep Hold of Eurydice, ca. 1791
    Pen and ink, washed in black and brown, watercolour and gouache in white
    21.1 × 15.5 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Acquired in 2017 as a gift from C. and H. B. to the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main

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    Richard Müller: Cat with a Ball of Wool (1922)

    Richard Müller: Cat with a Ball of Wool (1922)

    Richard Müller combined a meticulously realistic painting style with imaginative, surrealistically alienated motifs. He is considered one of the most important Dresden Symbolists and a prominent forerunner of New Objectivity. The acquisition of ”Cat with a Ball of Wool“ offers the Städel Museum a unique opportunity to enhance its modern art holdings with an interesting approach while at the same time forging a link between two focusses of its collection, Symbolism and New Objectivity. Previously a painter of still lifes and depictions of figures and landscapes, in the 1920s Richard Müller began painting animals to an ever-increasing degree. He made sketches at the Dresden Zoo and portraits of his own pets. In ”Cat with a Ball of Wool“, he used painterly precision and vibrant colours to stage a young animal frolicking with blue yarn and someone’s knitting project. The artist has reproduced the pattern of the carpet in great detail, and the cat with a half-knit sock and a ball of wool stands out against it in virtually three-dimensional plasticity. Both testify to Müller’s skill in capturing his subjects’ materiality.

    About the Artist

    Born in 1874, the painter and graphic artist Richard Müller completed training at the Royal Saxon Painting School of the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory before going on to study at the Dresden art academy from 1890 to 1892. Ernst Moritz Geyer, Leon Pohle and Leonhard Gey were among his teachers. In 1894 he participated in the Dresden Secession. His works met with great success at exhibitions: he received the Rome Prize in 1897, the Golden Medal of the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1899/1900, and the State Medal of Austria in Vienna in 1912. From 1930 to 1935, Müller taught at the art academy in Dresden, where George Grosz was among his pupils. In 1933/34 he also served there as rector. He has always been controversial because of his stance during the Nazi period. A member of the Nazi party, in 1933 he was involved in the organization of the first exhibition of ”Degenerate Art” in Dresden. In 1944, the Reich ministry put him on its ”God-gifted list” of favoured artists. Richard Müller died in Dresden-Loschwitz in 1954.

    Richard Müller (1874–1954)
    Cat with a Ball of Wool, 1922
    Oil on canvas
    28 x 60.5 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Acquired in 2016 with funds from the Werner Wirthle estate
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

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    Thomas Ruff: jpeg icbm02 (2007)

    Thomas Ruff: jpeg icbm02 (2007)

    Thanks to a donation from a private patron, a key work by the German artist Thomas Ruff has recently entered the Städel Museum’s contemporary art collection: jpeg icbm02 (2007).
    Thomas Ruff has been working on the jpeg series since 2004, using photos he finds on the Internet, motifs he has shot himself with a digital camera, and scanned images. In the process, he makes use of pictorial principles first introduced by the Impressionists and Pointillists. By reducing the photos’ resolution – that is, the number of pixels per square centimetre – and simultaneously increasing their scale, he creates new, coarser images that look like geometric patterns when viewed close up. It is only when we back away from the work that we can make out a real scene: in the case of jpeg icbm02 a rocket lifting off from the ground.
    In these works, the digital geometric structure that determines the degree of image resolution and granularity is assigned new value as an aesthetic category. Ruff’s jpeg icbm02 is thus representative of one of the chief distinguishing features of the photographic – or, perhaps more aptly, the pictorial – concept developed in the Becher class. The pupils of Bernd and Hilla Becher harboured a fundamentally sceptical attitude towards photography’s claim to truthfulness.

    About the artist

    Thomas Ruff (b. in Zell am Harmersbach, Baden-Württemberg in 1958) studied in the Bernd Becher class at the Düsseldorf art academy. He already began working in series as a student, capturing everyday interiors, for example, or shooting over-life-size portraits “en face”. Along with Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth, Ruff is one of the protagonists of the so-called Becher School, which is known especially for its new conception of the photographic image.
    Ruff’s first solo exhibition took place in Munich back in 1981. In 1992 he participated in the documenta 9, in 1995 in the 46th Venice Biennale. From 2000 to 2006 he taught photography at the Düsseldorfer Kunstakademie as Bernd Becher’s successor. His works are distinguished by their neutral objectivity and a search for the paradigmatic. In pursuit of his artistic aims, he employs digital image processing methods and works with found photo material. He lives and works in Düsseldorf.

    Thomas Ruff (*1958)
    Jpeg icbm02 (2007)
    Chromogenic colour print
    240 x 190 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Acquired in 2017 as a gift from Dr Mathias Boehringer
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

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    Abraham Bloemaert: Moses Striking the Rock (1611)

    Abraham Bloemaert: Moses Striking the Rock (1611)

    Abraham Bloemaert’s painting „Moses Striking the Rock“ of 1611 closes a conspicuous gap in the Städel Museum’s Old Masters’ collection. This important acquisition was made possible by the Städelscher Museums-Verein thanks to the generosity of a private donor.

    The painting depicts a climactic Old Testament episode (Exodus 17:1–7; Numbers 20:2–11): Moses striking water from a rock to save the Israelites from dying of thirst in the desert. Bloemaert staged the scene in highly dramatic manner, focussing more on the people’s reactions than on the miracle worker or the miracle itself. Whereas genre motifs, still-life elements and animal depictions dominate the foreground in a manner quite typical of the artist’s time, the religious event that inspired this wealth of imagery has been relegated to the background. Narrative drama, vibrant colours, the fine-painterly reproduction of even the smallest details and virtuoso handling of the light make this signed and dated painting one of the Utrecht artist Abraham Bloemaert’s masterworks and opera magna.

    About the artist

    A founding member of the Utrecht painters’ guild and teacher to many younger painters, Bloemaert was one of the most influential artists at the dawn of the “Golden Age” of Dutch painting. His own style, which bore the stamp of international Mannerism, reaped the high regard of his contemporaries but already faded into obscurity in the course of the eighteenth century. It was not until the mid-twentieth century that the artist was rediscovered – along with his pupils, the “Utrecht Caravaggists”, among them Dirck van Baburen. The Städel purchased the latter’s 1622 painting of a Young Man Singing just ten years ago; now Bloemaert will enter into direct dialogue with it in the museum’s Rembrandt Hall.

    Abraham Bloemaert (1566–1651)
    Moses Striking the Rock, 1611
    Oil on wood
    85 x 120 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.

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    Lotte Laserstein: Boy with a Kasper Puppet (Wolfgang Karger), 1933

    Lotte Laserstein: Boy with a Kasper Puppet (Wolfgang Karger), 1933

    After the Jewish painter Lotte Laserstein was compelled to leave Germany in 1937, her œuvre fell into oblivion – not to be rediscovered until 2003, when the Ephraim Palais in Berlin staged a Laserstein exhibition. Interest in her work has grown tremendously over the past years. Already back in 2014, the Städel Museum succeeded in purchasing one of the artist’s opera magna from the Swedish town of Nybro – the “Russian Girl with Powder Box of 1918“. The acquisition of the portrait “Boy with a Kasper Puppet (Wolfgang Karger)“ represented an excellent opportunity for the museum to enhance its New Objectivity holdings. What is more, the work forms a striking counterpart to Laserstein’s portrait of a girl.

    The artist painted “Boy with a Kasper Puppet (Wolfgang Karger)“ on commission from the Kargers, a Jewish couple. Anna Karger, formerly Anna Guggenheim, herself repeatedly posed for portraits by Laserstein. Her husband Alfred was a lawyer. In the year the boy’s likeness was painted, Karger was deprived of his licence to practise law on account of his Jewish origins. The family emigrated to Ecuador in 1941. Laserstein masterfully staged the Kargers’ son before a plain white background. He holds two hand puppets, Kasper and the Devil, in his arms. The artist thus subtly pictured the young boy between childlike gaiety and melancholy. Her mode of expression – objective and sensitive at once – was unequalled in the art of the Weimar Republic.

    About the Artist

    Lotte Laserstein studied at the Berlin art academy, where she was awarded the gold medal in 1925. She had her first solo exhibition at Fritz Gurlitt’s renowned Berlin gallery in 1931. Hardly had her career begun than it was brought to a halt by National Socialism. In 1937, on account of her Jewish background, the artist saw herself compelled to emigrate to Sweden, where she died in 1993. Lotte Laserstein executed her most impressive works in the late 1920s and early ’30s. In terms of subject and basic approach, they bear an affinity to New Objectivity. Laserstein’s painting style, however, is neither coldly objective nor demonstratively socio-critical.

    Lotte Laserstein (1898–1993)
    Boy with a Kasper Puppet (Wolfgang Karger), 1933
    Oil on wood
    46 x 38 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Acquired in 2016
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

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    Daniel Buren: Les Portes (1985)

    Daniel Buren: Les Portes (1985)

    Among the Städel Museum’s most recent acquisitions is “Les Portes” (1985) by Daniel Buren (b. 1938). The installation now in the holdings of the department of contemporary art is a magnum opus from the œuvre of an artist who devotes himself to the expansion of classical painting. The work was purchased by the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert.

    In characteristic Buren manner, the installation “Les Portes” (1985) consists of red-and-white and blue-and-white strips exactly 8.7 cm in width. The artist printed the strips on the cloth by the silkscreen method and subsequently painted isolated sections white by hand. He arranged the nine wall elements one behind the other as open portals, thus forming a path. Buren refers to his artistic work as painting at the zero point. He rejects all forms of depiction or representation of real things or circumstances, and instead addresses himself to painting in the context of its aesthetic and economic functionality. He negates authorial and referential aspects; at the same time, however, he attributes painting to a real object conceived of as part of a whole that is both architectonic and political in nature. His artistic interventions challenge the institutional framework and its underlying definition.

    About the artist

    Daniel Buren (b. 1938 in Boulogne-Billancourt) studied sculpture and painting at the École des Metiers d’Art in Paris from 1957 to 1960. During that period, he also briefly attended the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts. Since then he has devoted himself to a fundamental critical examination of painting. Buren participated in the Documenta in 1972, 1977 and 1982 and has also made several appearances at the Venice Biennale, which awarded him the Golden Lion in 1986 for his contribution to the French pavilion. Two comprehensive retrospectives have been staged in his honour – at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2002) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2005). In 2007 he received the Praemium Imperiale prize for painting in Japan. Buren works primarily with large-scale installations that negotiate the fundamental theme of his artistic work: the recurring denotation of a place and the contextualization of painting that takes place there.

    Daniel Buren (*1938)
    Les Portes, 1985
    Silkscreen on cloth, wood and paint
    9 modules, each 283 x 283 x 210 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Purchased in 2016 with funds from the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert
    Property of Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

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    Julian Schnabel: Anh (1988), Jane Birkin #3 (Vito) (1990) & Untitled (2015)

    Julian Schnabel: Anh (1988), Jane Birkin #3 (Vito) (1990) & Untitled (2015)

    Thanks to a purchase by the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert, the Städel Museum’s collection of contemporary art has received three important works by the American artist Julian Schnabel (b. 1951) – “Anh” (1988), “Jane Birkin” #3 (Vito) (1990) and “Untitled” (2015).

    Schnabel has been experimenting since the 1980s with a wide range of substances, for instance oil, wax, emulsion and plaster, which he usually applies to found materials such as sailcloth or tent tarps. The enigmatic titles are a typical – and fundamental – aspect of his monumental works, pointing to both the private and the public spheres: whereas “Anh” refers to the first name of his then partner, the “Jane Birkin” series alludes to the singer and actress of the same name. He doesn’t know her personally; rather, it is an homage that began with the name of a sailboat. This connection is mirrored in the unusual format which, with its rounded corner, is reminiscent of an overturned sail. Yet the association also bears a direct relation to the material on which the work was executed: Schnabel painted it on an old sail he purchased while travelling in Egypt.

    The artist’s radical expansion of the painterly spectrum is also evident in the most recent work. For Untitled he used the ink-jet printing method to transfer a photo of the floor of his studio with changed colours to a polyester canvas, to which he then added spray paint.

    About the artist

    Julian Schnabel (b. 1951) studied at the University of Houston in Texas from 1969 to 1973 and finished with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Then he attended the Independent Study Programme at the Whitney Museum in New York for two years.

    The critics already celebrated his works as the “return of painting” on the occasion of his first gallery show in New York in 1979. From then on they were the subject of a widely conducted debate over the goal and future of painting, charged with emotions that erupted in numerous articles such as “The End of Painting” or “Last Exit: Painting”. Schnabel was invited to participate in the Venice Biennale as early as the 1980s, and museums such as the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Centre Pompidou, the Whitney Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art staged solo exhibitions of his work. To this day, Schnabel holds a prominent position in international painting.

    Illustration
    Julian Schnabel (*1951)
    Anh, 1988
    Oil on tent tarpaulin
    281.9 x 304 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Purchased in 2016 with funds from the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert
    Property of Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

    Other new aquisitions
    Julian Schnabel (*1951)
    Jane Birkin #3 (Vito), 1990
    Oil, resin and plaster on sailcloth
    326.4 x 629.9 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Purchased in 2016 with funds from the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert
    Property of Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

    Julian Schnabel (*1951)
    Untitled, 2015
    Ink-jet printing and spray paint on polyester
    304.8 x 457.2 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Purchased in 2016 with funds from the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert
    Property of Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

    More images

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    Walter Dexel: Glass Painting II (1928)

    Walter Dexel: Glass Painting II (1928)

    The newly acquired “Glass Painting II” by Walter Dexel (1890–1973) enhances the Städel Museum’s collection of modern art with a work by a prominent exponent of German constructivism. Side by side with László Moholy-Nagy’s Construction of 1924 it represents an important addition to our holdings in the area of abstract painting of the 1920s. The impressive work testifies to the early twentieth-century aesthetic reform movements that manifested themselves in the Bauhaus and the Dutch De Stijl.

    Walter Dexel’s “Glass Painting II” is distinguished by the non-representative geometric formal language typical of constructivism. Red bars, black and white angles and a bright blue semicircle join on the picture surface to form a new whole. Dexel is considered an innovator of reverse glass painting – an artistic technique that can be traced back to church window production of the Gothic period. Dexel’s works on glass, which represent the culmination of his artistic œuvre, are convincing by virtue of their nuanced colouration as well as their clear and objective formal repertory. “Glass Painting II” is one of only five works executed by the artist in the year 1928. It is thus among Dexel’s last reverse glass paintings and is of exceptional significance for his lifework. Shortly after creating this piece, the artist abandoned painting completely in favour of applied art.

    About the artist

    A native of Munich, Walter Dexel studied art history with Heinrich Wölfflin and Botho Graef. From 1916 onward he devoted himself to commercial graphics as well as painting, a medium in which he was strongly influenced by Paul Cézanne, Cubism and Expressionism. In the early 1920s, Dexel turned first to figurative and later to abstract constructivism. Throughout his career, he moreover worked as a light and outdoor advertising designer. The first illuminated traffic sign of 1925 is considered his invention. From 1926 onward, Dexel was on the “New Frankfurt” team under Ernst May and decisively involved in the social reform movement of the same name.

    Walter Dexel (1890–1973)
    Glass Painting II or Blue Pane, 1928
    Reverse glass painting
    46.5 x 39.6 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Acquired in 2015 with funds from the Werner Wirthle estate
    © Walter Dexel

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