German Expressionist Painting and Sculptures from California Collections

The Pasadena Musuem of Modern Art presents German Expressionist Painting and Scuplture,  an exhibition organized by Melinda Terbell Wortz in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Museum in 1924.

Particularly relevant to the history of the Musuem, this exhibition presents the historical context out of which the PMMA's Galka Scheyer Collection, featuring the work of the Blue Four artists (Feininger, Jawlensky, Kandinsky and Klee) grew. Thanks in large part to Mme. Scheyer, and more recently to Dalzell Hatfield and Paul Kantor, California and particularly Southern California has rich holdings from the German Expressionist era. The Museum is fortunate to have obtained many fine examples of the works of the major German Expressionist artists. The exhibition focuses primarily on artists other than those in the Scheyer Collection.

The German movement sprang from deep spiritual longings in the German psyche and from a general fin de siecle weariness which was felt in Europe around the turn of the century. Like contemporaneous movements such as Cubism and Fauvism in France, German Expressionism reflects, in part, a reaction against the desire to capture the objective appearance of things which had characterized Impressionism. It was felt that a surface view of the world was too shallow and that it was time for art, once again, to reflect the more profound aspects of life. Various nonrepresentational styles, such as folk or primitive art forms were incorporated by the German Expressionsts as they rapidly moved away from the realistic tradition. More and more strident colors and distorted forms were utilized in order to express intense emotions, often distinctive and filled with spiritual unrest. Landscapes writh with curves or angular shapes, a far cry from the feeling of a peaceful pastorale which we often associate with landscape themes. Figures are often violently distorted.

Through the active organization of exhibitions by die Brucke and Blaue Reiter groups, the German artists were in direct contact with the avante garde of Russia, France, Italy and Austria. They responded particularly to the curvilinear rhythms of Art Nouveu and the Cubists development of interpenetrating and overlapping forms, both of which found their way into Expressionist works.