German Expressionism is one of the most exciting creative outbursts in the history of art.
Seeking to express the novel and chaotic forces that made the early 1900s a revolutionary epoch when both art and civilization were changing with dramatic and frightening rapidity, the artists of Germany were among the first to break with traditional painting. In their search for new art forms they seized upon the graphic media, revitalized them, and made them a means of communicating with a world that would not listen until the quiet voice of the artist became a violent scream.
When the pictures of the so-called “degenerated art” were confiscated by the Nazis from German museums and collections and came under the gavel at the Gallery Fischer in Luzern in the summer of 1939, they were anything but fairly evaluated for their already recognized intellectual dimensions by the international art market and by collectors. A first opportunity for widespread reparation and support of the persecuted artists and their works by the world was missed—missed by the same world, in fact, that regrettably failed to demonstrate insight for the historical, artistic and moral happenings of that time.
Nowhere in the history of modern art has there been a movement so filled with the projection of individual suffering and with man’s sense of aloneness. Through Expressionism these artists declared their rebellion against a reality that had become increasingly unbearable. Here also, the artist was able to identify with something greater than himself; to lose himself, as it were, in the infinite.
For the German Expressionists the harsh clarity of the graphic arts, often strident and brutal, was the most forceful statement any artistic movement had ever made. A profoundly moving sense of human involvement and protest is reflected in their rediscovery of craftsmanship, of spontaneity, and of graphic beauty.
This text was published in the exhibition brochure.