The HEAG Picture Cabinet
Darmstadt and the Arts 1846-1978
February 3rd - April 28th, 2013
Artists’ Colony Museum
To celebrate the generous donation of more than seventy paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints and sculptures from the HEAG collection to the Darmstadt Municipal Art Collection, Mathildenhöhe Institute Darmstadt is presenting a selection of this donation in the Artists' Colony Museum. The exhibits are as surprising as they are fascinating: artworks from the 19th and 20th century by around thirty artists, which complement the Darmstadt Municipal Art Collection perfectly.
Dr. Ralf Beil, director of Mathildenhöhe Institute, is delighted: “Following the impressive WELLA donation, the many high-quality works from the HEAG picture cabinet enrich the Municipal Art Collection Darmstadt, once again, in a most welcome way. Thus, we were able to acquire artworks we could not have afforded and which expand our holdings by artists in the center of our collection: Bracht, Becker, Hoetger, Kröh and Kleukens.”
Jochen Partsch, Mayor of Darmstadt, also welcomes the donation: “It is always a special event when quality art finds its way into the Municipal Art Collection Darmstadt. However, it is rare that works fit in so seamlessly with a collection and complement it as well as in the case of the more than seventy works of art from the HEAG collection.”
With the entry into the Municipal Art Collection Darmstadt, the works have now found a place fitting for their art-historical importance. Many of them have previously been completely unknown to the public or only rarely been presented. Thanks to this exhibition decades of invisibility finally belong to the past. HEAG board member Dr. Klaus-Michael Ahrend is glad to have found the perfect recipient for the works: “On the occasion of our picture cabinet’s dissolution, we were looking for an institution as close to our owners as possible, where our art might be shown to its fullest advantage. We were looking for a collection, which would experience a valuable growth through our donation and gain inspiration for new art-historical research.“
And his fellow board member Dr. Markus Hoschek adds: “We are delighted to have found in the Institute Mathildenhöhe as custodian of the Municipal Art Collection the ideal institution for our works of art. The catalog and the exhibition of our donation have already offered new insights into the art of Darmstadt during the 19th and 20th century.”
Among the works of the donation are paintings, sculptures and graphics by renowned artists such as Max Beckmann, Eugen Bracht, Bernhard Hoetger, Max Klinger, Käthe Kollwitz, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, but also by lesser known artists which deserve to be discovered, including Well Habicht and Bruno Krauskopf. Thematically, the works are divided into two sections: the rich tradition of German landscape painting in the 19th century and the portrayal of the mechanized world of the 20th century shaped by social tensions.
The highlight of the first group is a painting by Eugen Bracht, which he painted about two years after his trip to the Orient (1880/81) and which shows a palm-tree-lined oasis with resting Bedouins. Contributing to the research on the artist, the Mathildenhöhe has identified this oasis for the first time as "Wadi Feiran" on the Sinai peninsula. More paintings by Bracht, including “Radiant Winter’s Day” in intense blue and white, as well as landscapes by August Becker, Philipp Röth, Heinrich Reinhard Kröh, and Bernhard Hoetger, round off the wide range of landscapes.
In the second group, dedicated to the subject “work”, there is a special discovery to be made: a series by the artist Friedrich Wilhelm Kleukens, comprising more than twenty-five works. It was created in the mid-1950s and shows technical works on paper depicting HEAG’s electricity plants. Up to now Kleukens was known primarily as a member of the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony and head of the Grand Duke's private printing press. From 1907, Kleukens managed the "Ernst Ludwig Press" together with his younger brother Christian Heinrich and succeeded in producing icons of book design. This lucky find of the HEAG Series from Kleukens' late work has closed a research gap. With these dynamic sheets, Kleukens – at the age of seventy-five – illustrated the elaborate upgrading of the Darmstadt power grid after the Second World War. Besides their artistic charm, the works stand out due to the detailed representation of the power systems. Amongst the “work”-themed section of the exhibition falls the large painting “Quiet Corner in the Power Station” by the former expressionist Paul Thesing, co-founder and first president of Darmstadt’s New Secession from 1945. What is more, Willi Sitte’s impressive study of a worker at the construction site of a research center is the first work by this important East German artist to find its way into the Municipal Art Collection Darmstadt.
Given the plethora of artists and the diversity of the paintings, works on paper, sculptures, and prints displayed here, the exhibition offers many opportunities to make discoveries and detect relationships between the works.
On the occasion of the exhibition appears the publication “The HEAG Picture Cabinet. Darmstadt and the Arts 1846-1978”, edited and with an introduction by Ralf Beil, an essay by Philipp Gutbrod and a catalog raisonné of the donation, 32 pages, 20 illustrations, paperback, Institute Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, 2013, € 5.
To the overview
Poster of the exhibition The HEAG Picture Cabinet
Darmstadt and the Arts 1846-1978
Institut Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt
August Becker, Norwegian Fishermen Pulling a Boat Ashore, 1846, oil on canvas, 37,5 x 54 cm
Eugen Bracht, Radiant Winter's Day (Upper Spree Region), 1899, oil on canvas, 121 x 139 cm
Eugen Bracht, Oasis with Palm Trees, c. 1883, oil on canvas, 75 x 120 cm
Willi Sitte, Research Center, Study III, 1970, oil on canvas, 61 x 54 cm
Frans Masereel, Boy, Jumping into the Water, 1951, oil on paper, 48 x 64 cm
Friedrich Wilhelm Kleukens, Current Bridge between Current- and Voltage-Transformers, 1954, gouache, watercolor, colored pencil and pencil on paper, 61 x 45 cm
Paul Thesing, Quiet corner in the Power Station, 1948, oil on canvas, 152 x 226,5 cm
Thomas Duttenhoefer, Deadline, 1974, bronze, 46 x 28 x 21 cmPhotos: Gregor Schuster