Emphasis has been placed on classical Modern art, including works by German Expressionists, such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, August Macke, Franz Marc, Alexej von Jawlensky and Oskar Kokoschka. Surrealist works by the likes of Max Ernst as well as Dadaists, such as Hans Arp, are also on view. Significant works of art by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger and Henri Laurens represent another very important movement in the 20th century, namely Cubism.
Another focus of the Sprengel Museum Hannover’s collection is works of art representing the influential art scene in the 1920s in Hanover. Among the artists included in this part of the collection are those who formed the Constructivist group “die abstrakten hannover“ in 1927 -Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, Carl Buchheister and Rudolf Jahns, and especially El Lissitzky. Living at the time in Hanover, Lissitzky created the “Kabinett der Abstrakten“ for the `Gemäldegalerie` (gallery for painting) at the local provincial museum. Now reconstructed, it can be viewed today at the Sprengel Museum Hannover. In addition to Otto Dix and Christian Schad, who are represented by some of their best work, the museum also has numerous works by members of the “Neue Sachlichkeit“ group who lived in Hanover, such as Ernst Thoms, Grethe Jürgens and Erich Wegner; an entire department of the museum has been devoted to these influential artists’ works.
The most comprehensive conglomeration of works is by Kurt Schwitters, the Merz artist who lived most of his life in Hanover. It is one of the most important distinguishing aspects of the Sprengel Museum Hannover’s permanent collection. In addition to several typical “merz“ drawings and paintings, the museum also offers visitors a glimpse of paintings realised early in the artist’s career as well as examples of his lifelong interest in landscapes. The core element of this part of the collection is the reconstruction of the “Merzbau“ installation, which Kurt Schwitters frequently referred to as his “Lebenswerk” (his key work).
The idea of working with collage, which was an important aspect of Kurt Schwitters’ oeuvre, takes us to another focal point of the museum’s collection of art realised after 1945. The museum acquired several works by the so-called “Decollagisten“ group, as well as examples by French “Nouveau Réalisme“ artists, such as Mimmo Rotella, Raymond Hains and Arman. Another lucky stroke in this vein was the kind gift of approximately 400 works by Niki de Saint Phalle.
Another period that is well represented in the museum’s collection is the 1950s in Germany and France, including “informelle“ painting as well as Abstract Expressionism from the USA, which was realised around the same time. This impressive collection includes works by Emil Schumacher and Ernst Wilhelm Nay. Ample examples of works representing developments in the late 1960s include large-scale pieces by Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman and Ulrich Rückriem. There are, of course, also works by more contemporary artists, such as Gerhard Richter and Georg Baselitz, and even more recent works by Joep van Lieshout and Eberhard Havekost