Max Liebermann In den Zelten (Beer Garden in Leiden), 1900 Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle © bpk ׀ Hamburger Kunsthalle ׀ Elke Walford

April 21 to September 11, 2011 – Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany

Max Liebermann (1847–1935) is celebrated as one of the most important pioneers of Modernism. His life’s work, both as an artist and as a cultural policy maker, spans six decades and had a decisive impact on contemporary artistic discourse from the time of the foundation of the German Empire in 1871 until well into the final years of the Weimar Republic. Drawing on the Dutch Old Masters Rembrandt and Frans Hals as well as on the French Impressionists, Liebermann created an oeuvre of rare stylistic and thematic breadth.
Chronologically arranged, the exhibition presents approximately one hundred paintings and drawings by Liebermann, offering a unique insight into all phases of the artist’s work. Throughout his long career he successfully and almost programmatically avoided stagnation, consistently keeping his style and his repertoire of motifs fresh and pertinent.

The exhibition covers a wide range of topics and showcases the artist’s most important groups of works. His early paintings of earthy peasant subjects are distinguished by a subdued palette. It was not until the mid-1880s that the artist began to plunge his motifs of bourgeois pastimes – the world of outdoor cafes, seaside amusements and polo matches – in the dappled sunshine of the French Impressionists, without, however, copying their technique.

After 1900, Liebermann became a much sought-after portraitist. A representative number of the artist’s insightful self-portraits add a personal touch to the display. The exhibition ends with Liebermann’s spectacular late works, painted in his summerhouse on the Wannsee lake in Berlin from about 1910. The myriad views of his garden, allowed Liebermann to experiment with unprecedented freedom, creating a body of work in which art and nature converge in happy synthesis.

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