until 31.12.| #3619ARTatBerlin | Galerie Brockstedt presents from 14. September 2022 (Opening: 06.10.) the exhibition “Die neue Freiheit – Abstraktion in Malerei und Skulptur 1917-2022” (The New Freedom – Abstraction in Painting and Sculpture 1917-2022) by the artists Willi Baumeister, Carl Buchheister, Walter Dexel, Otto Freundlich, Elana Gutmann, Volkmar Haase, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Vilmos Huszár, Callum Innes, Floris Jespers, Paul Joostens, Dirk Koning, Hannah Kosnick-Kloss, Ulrich Lindow, Lou Loeber, Jupp Linssen, Thilo Maatsch, Maria Brockstedt/Sarah Schumann, Rudolf Mauke, Henri Pfeiffer, Karl-Peter Röhl, Gust Romijn, Mark Safan, Lothar Schreyer, Kurt Schwitters, Shmuel Shapiro, Victor Vasarely and Kaifan Wang.
The new freedom in art – starting from the Eastern European avant-garde and its representatives – such as Kandinsky, Malevich and El Lissitzky – found its starting point throughout Europe before the Second World War. After suppression, persecution and professional bans during the National Socialist era, it led to the new freedom of art in Western Europe after 1945. The magic of abstraction quickly became a political issue in the Cold War between East and West and is known today as the formalism debate. Under pressure from the Soviet Union, Socialist Realism prevailed in the GDR and the other Warsaw Pact states, whereas abstraction became the dominant style in art in Western Europe and the USA.
After the exhibition at the Brockstedt Gallery in Hamburg was discontinued in 2021, the consolidation of the exhibits from Hamburg and Berlin made a completely new view of the extensive holdings possible. Although for decades the focus of interest was on the representational and figurative in classical modernism but also in the various varieties of realism in contemporary art after 1945, a renewed stocktaking revealed around 100 artistic positions that express themselves non-representationally, i.e. “abstractly” in the broadest sense. The Brockstedt Gallery is now showing a selection of 45 exhibits by around 30 different international artists from the gallery’s holdings until the end of the year.
During the preparation for the exhibition, it became apparent that there is a broad spectrum of different expressive possibilities in the field of abstraction. They range from the massive gestures in the informal painting of the 1950s – as in the work of Rudolf Mauke and the Dutchman Gust Romijn – to the strictly geometric forms of concrete art in the works of Walter Dexel, Hannah Kosnick-Kloss and Otto Freundlich as well as the two Hungarians Victor Vasarely and Vilmos Huszár. But the dripping of trickling traces of colour in the action painting of a work by Carl Buchheister and two-dimensional colour field painting in a drawing by Callum Innes also find their place in the exhibition.
In sculpture, there are also expressions ranging from a strictly cubist conception of a figure with a snake by Ulrich Lindow to abstracting forms of a wave by Volkmar Haase and a fighting warrior made of iron bands from the early 1950s by the Belgian Floris Jespers.
The many individual possibilities of the pre-war years, which are known today under the keywords Informel, Tachism, Cubism, Constructivism, Suprematism, Proun, Bauhaus, De Stijl and Surrealist Automatism, are taken up again and again by contemporary artists, so that the current exhibition at Galerie Brockstedt offers a juxtaposition. For example, the large-format collages by the US artists Mark Safan and Shmuel Shapiro are juxtaposed with two small collages by Kurt Schwitters from the 1920s and 1940s. The tender, spherical painting from the 1950s by Maria Brockstedt, who would later call herself Sarah Schumann, finds its male counterpart in the tachist painting of the German-French Henri Pfeiffer from 1927.
What is impressive in this exhibition is not only the diversity of styles and techniques on the theme of abstraction. A small, touching watercolour, untitled, by Friedensreich Hundertwasser and dedicated to Jutta Brockstedt, asserts itself here quite naturally in close proximity to the wall-filling 3-metre-long work “Glücklicher Plan” (Happy Plan) by the Braunschweig artist Thilo Maatsch from 1924. Further discoveries are possible!
Text: Dr. Uta Schnell im September 2022
Vernissage: Thursday, 6. Oktober 2022, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Exhibition dates: Wednesday, 14. September until Saturday, 31. December 2022to the gallery
Image caption title: Kurt Schwitters, Mz149 Ruhe, 1920, 15,5 x 10,8 cm, collage, technique mixte sur papier
Exhibition Die neue Freiheit – Galerie Brockstedt | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galerien | ART at Berlin