revonnaH. Art of the Avant-Garde in Hannover 1912 – 1933


23. September 2017 – 07. January 2018
Sprengel Museum HannoverSprengel Museum Hannover
Opening on 23 September 2017, the Sprengel Museum Hannover is bringing Hannover of the 1920s to life in “revonnaH. Art of the Avant-Garde in Hannover 1912 – 1933”. The exhibition running through 7 January 2018 features circa 300 works from its own holdings and loans and is devoted to a Golden Age in Hannover’s cultural history when private patrons, innovative museum directors and a lively art scene seeking contact to international avant-garde movements made Hannover a “modern art city”.

The exhibition opens with the institutional efforts to introduce the rather conservative provincial capital of Hannover to the artistic avant-garde that began in 1912 with the naming of Albert Gideon Brinckmann as director of the municipal Kestner-Museum and his progressive acquisition policies. The institutional endeavours to get Hannover off the ground as regards the artistic avant-garde began at almost the same time. Herbert von Garvens, the heir to a family business, already began assembling a collection of choice example of modern and contemporary art that would become one of the most substantial of its time. In addition, private entrepreneurs like Hermann Bahlsen and Fritz Beindorff (Pelikan) awarded commercial commissions to modern artists, setting a tradition of civic commitment in motion that culminated in the establishment of the Kestner-Gesellschaft in 1916. This institution, along with the founding of the Hannoversche Sezession in 1917, promoted the discussion on such contemporary tendencies as Expressionism, Abstraction and New Objectivity in exhibitions and publications, making Hannover a “modern art city”.

Kurt Schwitters, one of the most significant artists and active “networkers” of the Weimar era, is at the focus of Hannover’s modernist movement. Figures like El Lissitzky (Abstract Cabinet), László Moholy-Nagy und Theo van Doesburg came to Hannover as a result of his international contacts. Avant-garde artists from Schwitters’s circle gathered in the salon of Käte Steinitz and artist groups like “die abstrakten hannover” were founded.

In the Provinzial-Museum (the present-day Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum), Alexander Dorner revolutionised the presentation and promulgation of contemporary art. With the financial support of the industrialist Fritz Beindorff, Dorner commissioned the Russian painter and architect El Lissitzky to design an innovative space for the exhibition of contemporary abstract art. His ‘Abstract Cabinet’ from 1927 is one of the artistic highlights of the 1920s.

A new Hannover-based variant of New Objectivity was developed at the municipal School of Arts and Crafts by artists such as Ernst Thoms, Grethe Jürgens, Gerta Overbeck and Erich Wegner. All of these activities, which extended over and above Hannover’s borders and made the city a hub in the network of Europe’s avant-garde movements, came to an abrupt end when the National Socialists came to power in 1933.

The exhibition brings this extraordinarily vivid period of Hannover’s art history to life in a large-scale special exhibition featuring 335 works by 96 artists, including works from the museum’s own collections and high-quality loans. The show is divided into diverse thematic complexes that provide a comprehensive survey of private collections, acquisition policies, exhibition activities as well as locally prevalent artistic tendencies.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Snoeck Verlag (336 pages, 337 illustrations, price museum edition: 38 EUR) with 26 texts by renown specialists that covers subjects over and above exhibition proper to encompass architecture, film and photography, making it standard reference book on this vibrant period in the history of Hannover.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Karin Orchard.

Thematic focuses:


Private

Private and company collections in Hannover: Herrman Bahlsen, Fritz Beindorff (Pelikan), Hermann Bode, Conrad Wrede, August Nitzschner, Herbert von Garvens-Garvensburg, Paul Erich Küppers, Alexander Dorner

Public

Acquisitions for public institutions: Kestner-Museum, Städtische Galerie, Provinzial-Museum

Collective
Exhibitions and activities of the Kestner-Gesellschaft, Kunstverein, Hannoversche Sezession, GEDOK

Expressive
Hannover artists: Expression (Horrmeyer, Gleichmann, Burchartz, Brach-Zinek, Hirsch, Dörries, Schwitters)


Abstract
Hannover artists: Abstraction (Schwitters, Buchheister, Jahns, Dexel, Michel, Vordemberge, Lissitzky, Moholi-Nagy)
die abstrakten hannover, ring neuer werbegestalter

Objective
Hannover artists: Objectivity (Burger-Mühlfeld, Heitmüller, Busack, Jürgens, Overbeck, Thoms, Wegner, Mertens, Scheibe)
Photography and film in Hannover


Abstract Cabinet, Merz Building

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