The Written Image: Books and Portfolios from the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies
Artists, designers, and publishers frequently collaborated in early 20th-century Germany, producing portfolios, periodicals, and books that became an arena for exchange and a vehicle for promoting modernist innovations.
For artists including Oskar Kokoschka and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, prints issued as single sheets, in portfolios and in bound volumes were an expedient and flexible way of disseminating aesthetic novelties to a wide audience. Literary themes, inspired by old and modern masters, pervade these artists’ work, and were especially well suited to be developed as serial imagery.
Artists such as Ernst Barlach, Kokoschka, and Conrad Felixmüller were also authors who wrote novels, plays, and poems that they illustrated. After World War I, artists—owing largely to the encouragement of publishers and dealers, and supported by Germany’s important printing industry and advancements in technology—worked in styles as diverse as Dada, Neue Sachlichkeit, and the Bauhaus, continuing to invest their creative efforts into books, periodicals, and print portfolios.
Selected from works in the Prints and Drawings Department and from the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies at LACMA, this exhibition explores the rich and varied dialogue between the written word and the print in all its manifestations.
Images: Top: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Triumph of Love (Triumph der Liebe), 1911, woodcut, The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies © Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Courtesy Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern
Bottom: Oskar Kokoschka, The Sailboat (Das Segelschiff), from The Dreaming Boys (Die träumenden Knaben), 1908, lithograph printed in black, blue, yellow, green, and red, The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies, purchased with funds provided by Anna Bing Arnold, Museum Associates Acquisition Fund, and deaccession funds © 2014 Fondation Oskar Kokoschka / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ProLitteris, Zürich
When you hear the names of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, you might think of the colorful, expressive, and often large-scale paintings that they did in the early 20th century—many examples of which can be seen in Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky, currently on view in the Resnick Pavilion. Lesser known is their more intimate work; indeed, the young generation of German avant-garde artists favored printmaking in addition to painting...