Kandinsky, Klee, Schiele …

Selected graphic portfolios of the early 20th century
28 March – 29 June 2014

The selection of around 60 works ranges from sheets from the famous four portfolios of "Bauhaus Prints. Neue Europäische Graphik", in which the entire international avant-garde movement of the 1920s is united - from Boccioni and Feininger to Jawlensky. In addition, the Sema-Mappe from 1912, which is hardly known today, is to be rediscovered and can be seen in its entirety as a prototype of a portfolio work. In addition to the material-specific possibilities of expression, it is especially the variable technical procedures of the print medium to which the artists turn with interest. Since graphic art offers opportunities for experimentation, it often becomes a catalyst for innovative efforts and the further development of form. But also the increasing demand for graphics on the art market causes a considerable appreciation within contemporary perception.

The Sema portfolio
The artists' association Sema is almost unknown today, although important pioneers of modernism such as Paul Klee and Egon Schiele were among its members. Seen in a new context, the Sema-Mappe in particular, published by the association in 1912, reveals a hitherto underestimated significance. As one of the first graphic projects committed to a modern conception of art, it stands at the beginning of a long series of portfolio works of the 20th century.

In the exhibition, the Sema-Mappe can be seen in its entirety - from the cover and the preceding manifesto to the fifteen lithographic contributions. Its elaborate design is conspicuous by a signet developed by the artists' association. This adorns the cover as well as the individual lithographs and identifies the sheets, often torn from the complete works, to this day.

The Bauhaus Folders New European Graphics
Founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 as an art school in Weimar, the "Staatliches Bauhaus" aspired to unite applied and liberal arts and captured the mood of an entire generation of artists.

Printmaking also played an important role at the Bauhaus, and both masters and students took advantage of the extensive technical possibilities of the school's own print shop. At the beginning of the 1920s, the idea was born to publish a portfolio that would summarize the entire "new European movement" in the field of graphic art. In addition to the Bauhaus masters Lyonel Feininger, Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Gerhard Marcks, Georg Muche, Oskar Schlemmer and Lothar Schreyer, 75 other artists and also the executors of the estates of artists who had already died, such as Umberto Boccioni and Franz Marc, were asked to collaborate.

The "graphic wave" of the 20th century.
"The graphic art of our days will bear witness to a later future, the most faithful document of the fevers that shake us."

This quote by Hans Tietze from the 1922 survey work Deutsche Graphik der Gegenwart clearly formulates the self-image of graphic art within the art production of early modernism. This is confirmed in a veritable flood of print expressions in the first half of the 20th century. The drawings and prints from the holdings of the Prints and Drawings Department - ranging from single sheets to portfolios - illustrate that the history of modern art can indeed be rediscovered from the perspective of the reproduction arts.

Exhibition catalog
A richly illustrated catalog of the exhibited works was published to accompany the exhibition by Hirmer-Verlag Munich. In addition to introductory essays by Susanne M.I. Kaufmann and Corinna Höper, the catalog includes an index of the portfolio works and illustrated magazines published in Germany from 1910 to 1945 in the Graphic Collection of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.