Georg Kolbe Museum Presents WILLIAM WAUER AND BERLIN CUBISM SCULPTURE around 1920

The Georg Kolbe Museum presents WILLIAM WAUER AND BERLIN CUBISM – SCULPTURE around 1920, open 10 April – 19 June, 2011.

The sculptural work of Berlin artist William Wauer lies at the heart of the exhibition. Beginning in 1916, he entered the scene at Herwarth Walden’s legendary avant-garde gallery “Der Sturm” on Potsdamer Straße as a sculptor and painter, following a successful career as a theater and film director, among other endeavors.

His sculptures are characterized by an angular-geometricized abstraction, leading to a whole new form of expression, particularly in the field of portrait sculpture. His most famous work, the “Monumentalbüste“ [monumental bust] of Herwarth Walden, has become the epitome of formal radicalism of German Modernism. In 1937 Wauer’s works were denounced as “entartet” [degenerate]. In addition to the portraits, he created a number of large figures that are traversed by spatial lines of movement in the sense of “rhythmically restrained dynamics” (Wauer), retaining their formal relevance to this day.

In the years before, during and after World War II, Berlin was an international hub of modernity, manifesting itself in various and overlapping trends and styles. The exhibition “William Wauer and Berlin Cubism” explores the hitherto neglected influences of Cubism on sculpture during the late Imperial era and the Weimar Republic. “Berlin Cubism” as a deliberately dramatic neologistical term aims to detect and visualize trends that, in Germany, were almost completely hidden or commandeered by “Expressionism” before.

French Cubism provided sculpture’s main impetus for a geometricized reduction of bodies to the basic forms of cube, cylinder, cone and pyramid. But this is only one aspect. A new understanding of space in view of a fully three-dimensional development and penetration of surfaces, masses and space was equally crucial for this transfer of Cubist methods from painting to sculpture. The “Cubist”, as it was described earlier in the German art discourse in connection with archaic and extra-European sculpture, was a vital formal point of reference for avant-garde sculpture of the period.

In this sense, the “Sturm”-associate Rudolf Blümner even granted William Wauer a leading role in the formulation of Cubist sculpture in his 1921 book “Der Geist des Kubismus und die Künste” [The Spirit of Cubism and the Arts]. This may not be historically correct, but such an assessment does document a contemporary view that can be applied to other artists of the time. In particular, this applies to the works of Berlin-born Rudolf Belling and the Ukrainian sculptor Alexander Archipenko in Paris, who was one of the first artists to take up the formal innovations of Cubism and was shown by Herwarth Walden several times at “Sturm” after 1913. From 1921 to 1923, he lived in Berlin before emigrating to the USA. Edwin Scharff also gathered his most important artistic influences in Paris and transformed from a Cubist painting to a Cubist sculptor afterwards, before coming to Berlin in 1923. Cubist influences can also be made out in the works of Oswald Herzog, Johannes Itten, Otto Freundlich, Herbert Garbe, Katharina Heise, Walter Kampmann, Georg Kolbe, Georg Leschnitzer, Marg Moll, Emy Roeder, Richard Scheibe, Kurt Schwitters, Hans Uhlmann, Genni Wiegmann-Mucchi, as well as in the sculptural approaches of architects Walter Gropius, Max Taut and Vasily Luckhardt.

The exhibition presents sculptures by:
William Wauer (1886-1962)
Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)
Rudolf Belling (1886-1972)
Walter Gropius (1883-1969)
Katharina Heise (1891-1964)
Oswald Herzog (1881-1956)
Johannes Itten (1888-1967)
Walter Kampmann (1887-1945)
Georg Kolbe (1877-1947)
Marg Moll (1884-1977)
Emy Roeder (1890-1971)
Edwin Scharff (1887-1955)
Richard Scheibe (1879-1964)
Hans Uhlmann (1900 -1975)
Jenny (or Genni) Wiegmann-Mucchi (1895-1969)

Dr. Marc Wellmann, exhibition director of the Georg-Kolbe-Museum

Georg-Kolbe-Museum is located in the former studio-building of the sculptor Georg Kolbe (1877-1947) in Berlin-Westend close to the Olympic Stadium. Created from the estate of Georg Kolbe, this was the first foundation of a new museum in West Berlin in 1950. It was built in 1928 based on designs by Kolbe by Ernst Rentsch and borders on a sculpture garden that is a protected monument as is the whole ensemble. An annex was added in 1996, in order to meet the increased need for professional storage and the continued growth of the exhibition operations.

Sensburger Allee 25, 14055 Berlin
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