Works by Impressionist and Expressionist artists draw audiences around the world. This summer, the Nationalgalerie (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) presents a groundbreaking exhibition comparing the two art movements for the first time.
From 1896, Berlin's Nationalgalerie was the first museum to begin collecting Impressionist paintings under the leadership of museum director Hugo von Tschudi, ahead of museums in Paris and other cities. Tschudi's successor, Ludwig Justi, went on to assemble a renowned collection of works by Expressionist artists in the former Kronprinzenpalais from 1918 onwards.
This comprehensive exhibition will trace the similarities and differences between the two movements and examine their enduring popularity. Over 170 Impressionist and Expressionist masterpieces, chiefly by German and French artists, have been assembled from the collections of the Nationalgalerie and other international museums and will be exhibited in Berlin's Alte Nationalgalerie.
The development of Impressionism is associated with artists including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir in France, and with Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, and Max Slevogt in Germany. Expressionism, which mounted a strong counter-reaction to Impressionism, originated in Germany and was spearheaded by painters including Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Emil Nolde, and Franz Marc.
No two other styles were so intensely scrutinized and contrasted during their time as were Impressionism and Expressionism. Attempts to distil the characteristic traits of the 'art of impressions' and the 'art of expressions' led to antithetical juxtapositions. Impressionism, suffused with a uniquely French joie de vivre, was placed in opposition to the existentialist German Expressionism.
And yet, despite their conflicting approaches, there are surprisingly many points of overlap to be found between Impressionism and Expressionism. The movements share an anti-academy stance and mark the dawn of the modern era. Both prize painting en plein air and the immediate recording of direct experiences of light, colour, and emotion. Proponents of both styles took a positive view of subjectivity and the individuality of brush strokes. The fact that many artists moved from working in an Impressionist to an Expressionist style reveals the underlying relationship between the two styles.
Once audiences had grown accustomed to their loose, spontaneous brushwork, both styles become wildly popular and continue to be so today. Their subjects - taken from everyday life and including the city and its streets and squares; people in bars, cafés, and restaurants; places of leisure on the outskirts of cities, and at lakes and the sea; the family and the private sphere - contribute significantly to the popularity of both styles. Works critical of social mores increasingly emerged after 1910. The exhibition is organized according to subjects represented in both movements and will occupy the entire middle floor of the Alte Nationalgalerie.
A rich programme of lectures and readings will provide insights into themes explored in the exhibition.
Extended opening hours: The exhibition is open until 10 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
U-Bahn U6 (Friedrichstraße)
S-Bahn S1, S2, S25, S26 (Friedrichstraße); S3, S5, S7, S9 (Hackescher Markt)
Tram M1, 12 (Am Kupfergraben); M4, M5, M6 (Hackescher Markt)
Bus TXL (Staatsoper); 100, 200 (Lustgarten); 147 (Friedrichstraße)
Low-carbon public transport connections
Sun 10:00 - 18:00
Tue 10:00 - 18:00
Wed 10:00 - 18:00
Thu 10:00 - 22:00
Fri 10:00 - 22:00
Sat 10:00 - 22:00
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