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Day & Dream in Modern Germany, 1914-1945
In the dramatic years between the two world wars, German art ranged from an activist realism to a utopian idealism. This exhibition presents a selection of work that questions the relationship among art, the visible world, and contemporary society. It features prints, photographs, drawings, and watercolors by some of the most celebrated artists of their generation selected from the Museum’s collection and from local museums.
In the first half of the 20th century, German art took a dizzying array of forms, from the bold abstraction of German Expressionism to the clinical hyperrealism of New Objectivity. This artistic diversity was a product of the momentous events shaping the lives of artists working in Germany. Two world wars, political revolution, crippling unemployment, and historic hyperinflation plunged everyday Germans into an endless cycle of existential threats.
The show’s title is inspired by a highlight of the exhibition, Max Beckmann’s 1946 lithographic portfolio Day & Dream. Made at the end of his wartime exile in Amsterdam, only a year before he immigrated to St. Louis, the 15 prints of Day & Dream take viewers on a Surrealistic tour of Beckmann’s dream world, populated by kings and lovers, soldiers and athletes, blended seamlessly with scenes from his life in exile.
More than half of the works in this exhibition are making their SLAM debut. Visitors will experience art by Renée Sintenis, the first female sculptor admitted to the Berlin Academy of Arts; fascinating images of magnified plants from Karl Blossfeldt’s pioneering photo book Art Forms in Nature; and Walter Gramatté’s illustrations for a 1925 edition of Georg Büchner’s novella Lenz, a tour de force of psychological portraiture and part of a large recent gift from the artist’s estate.
Day & Dream in Modern Germany, 1914–1945, is curated by Melissa Venator, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow for Modern Art.