Palazzo delle Esposizioni Presents Masterpieces from the Stadel

This exhibition, on view 1 April – 17 July 2011, marks the first opportunity the general public will ever have had to admire the Städel Museum’s famous collection in Italy. One of the richest and most prestigious collections of European old masters and modern art anywhere, it was established by merchant and banker Johann Friederich Städel in 1815.

In keeping with the Palazzo delle Esposizioni’s “modernist” calling, the selection we plan to display will come mostly from collection’s 19th and 20 century section, providing an overview of European art history from the Nazarenes to the Romantics, from Realism to Impressionism, and from Symbolism to the Avant-Garde. Divided into seven stylistic and chronological sections which will be hosted in the seven galleries surrounding the Palazzo delle Esposizioni’s monumental Rotunda, the exhibition will include masterpieces by Tischbein, Koch, Corot, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Böcklin and Feuerbach, and then on up to Moreau, Redon, Hodler, Munch, Beckmann, Ernst, Klee and Picasso.

The exhibition begins with early 19th century German classicism, introduced by the extremely famous portrait of Goethe Resting in the Roman Campagna which Tischbein painted in 1786-1787 and which has become something of an iconic symbol of the legendary Italian Grand Tour. This is followed by a sweeping tribute to the French Impressionists – from the realistic landscapes of Corot and Courbet to the radiant Impressionism of Renoir’s portraits and the sumptuous Parisian atmosphere of Degas.

The main part of the exhibition is devoted to Symbolism, represented here by the group’s most important exponents (Böcklin, Ensor, Moreau, Munch and Redon) with their evocation of imagined and disquieting worlds, echoed also in a sophisticated group of Nabis works (Bonnard, Vallotton and Vuillard). The exhibition continues with masterpieces of the German Expressionist school, represented by Die Brücke group (with Heckel and Nolde) and Der Blaue Reiter group (with Marc and Jawlensky) whose artistic output tended toward a dramatic and radical form of painting.

Max Beckmann – an artist with expressionist inclinations but difficult to pin down to any specific trend – and his powerful and incisive style reflecting the complexity of early 20th century European culture have a whole section to themselves, while the exhibition closes with the visionary experimentalism of such artists as Max Ernst, Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso, offering the visitor an exceptional overview of painting as it teetered on the brink of 20th century modernity.

Image: Max Beckmann, Doppio ritratto, 1923, olio su tela, 80,3 x 65 cm. Städel Museum, Francoforte. Acquisita nel 1924 come dono dell’artista.

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