January 31, 2023
3 minute read

A Graphic Art: German Expressionist Prints from the McNay Art Museum and the Bronston Collection

Max Beckmann (German, 1884–1950), Self-Portrait with Bowler, 1921. Drypoint, 12 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. McNay Art Museum, Gift of the Friends of the McNay, 1966.4 © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

A Graphic Art: German Expressionist Prints from the McNay Art Museum and the Bronston Collection, on view from February 5 through May 7, 2023

The Crocker Art Museum is pleased to announce A Graphic Art: German Expressionist Prints from the McNay Art Museum and the Bronston Collection, on view from February 5 through May 7, 2023. Consisting of prints by 15 artists, as well as watercolors, painting, and sculpture, A Graphic Art provides a view into a world of artistic ferment and unrelenting change that resonates in the art of today.

The early 20th century was a time of innovation in German-speaking lands. The horrors of the first World War and the chaos in its wake propelled a new examination of culture and, with it, art. Hyperinflation early in the decade wiped out savings, political conflict plagued the new Weimar Republic, and social bonds changed and weakened. Against this backdrop, an extremely lively urban artistic world continued to innovate.

Artists had begun to move away from the academic tradition and new, international movements such as Art Nouveau were reflected in the various Sezession groups. Rebelling even against these avant-gardes, other artists experimented with rough, jarring colors and styles, distortions of form that expressed emotion, and often gritty modern subjects. Works from Max Beckmann, Heinrich Campendonk, Erich Heckel, Georg Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Käthe Kollwitz, Franz Marc, and others demonstrate many of these qualities.

A Graphic Art exemplifies many of the core themes explored by German Expressionist artists and includes works from three key schools within the movement, Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), Die Brucke (The Bridge), and Die Neue Sachlichkeit (The New Objectivity). Several ancient printmaking techniques experienced a revival under the Expressionists, while artists also invented new techniques and adapted others once neglected to new, unexpected uses. Included in the exhibition are examples of woodcut, soft ground etching, drypoint, and other printmaking methods.

With graphic styles and a critical stance towards society, Expressionist art resonated with the public, and thanks to the reproducibility inherent in the medium, reached an ever-wider audience.

The exhibition is accompanied by a suite of related programs including:

  • German Expressionism on Film – Third Thursdays February – April

    A trio of films representing some of the finest examples of post-World War I and Weimar Era filmmaking. A mashup of cult classics, experimental endeavors, and unexpected surprises.

  • Beginning Relief Print Making Studio Class – February 25

    A hands-on exploration of the ancient form of relief printmaking. Participants will develop the fundamentals of carving, inking, and hand printing on paper.

  • ArtMix: MOVEments – March 9

    A dynamic evening of dance and physical expression. The Museum comes alive as the region’s most in-demand dancers take over the galleries for one night only. Live music, drinks, art, and more.

  • Curator in Conversation: Timothy O. Benson on German Expressionism – April 8

    A conversation between Crocker Curator William Breazeale and Timothy O. Benson, curator of the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Benson stewards one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of the Expressionist movement. In this lively discussion the two curators explore this iconic and fertile period for film, art, performance, and design in German history.