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The Sammlung Moderne Kunst opens exhibition of works by Franz Radziwill
Franz Radziwill (1895 - 1983), Landscape with Three Black Silhouettes, 1920/21 (Verso: Thundery Landscape). Oil on canvas on wood, 77 x 82 cm. Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Sammlung Moderne Kunst at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, on loan from a private collection © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019.

MUNICH.- The Sammlung Moderne Kunst is presenting a recently acquired work of Classical Modernism that significantly expands the New Objectivity section. ‘Grodenstraße nach Varelerhafen’ (Polder Road to Varel Harbour) by Franz Radziwill was bought in 2018 – the first work by the artist to be purchased by the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen. The landscape was painted in 1938 when Radziwill’s involvement within the Nazi art network was particularly ambivalent.

The north German painter Franz Radziwill (1895–1983) is one of the most important representatives of Magic Realism in Germany. ‘Polder Road to Varel Harbour’ of 1938 is an outstanding example of Radziwill’s atmospheric landscape painting of the 1920s and 1930s. At the same time, the painting’s expressive colouration refers back to his beginnings among the ‘Brücke’ artists in Hamburg. Radziwill’s Expressionist roots, seldom shown in exhibitions, are highlighted in this focused presentation of works from the collection that is complemented by an exceptional loan. The artist’s early work ‘Landschaft mit drei schwarzen Schemen’ (Landscape with Three Black Silhouettes) of 1920/21 has, to date, never been exhibited. The work was painted on the back of the well-known New Objectivity picture ‘Gewittrige Landschaft’ (Thundery Landscape) of 1925. The presentation of both sides of the canvas for the first time draws attention to the threshold period around 1920. Unlike virtually any other work, the painting illustrates the sharp transition from Late Expressionism to New Objectivity.

His early Expressionist work was to have devastating consequences for the artist under the National Socialists. After the discovery and publication of some of his early works on board in Hamburg, Radziwill lost his position as professor at the Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf. In 1937/38 several of his works were shown at the defamatory ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition while, at the same time, he successfully sold works to members of the Navy and Luftwaffe through regional networks of the NSDAP. The remarkable palette in ‘Grodenstraße’ that was created during this period is also an affirmation of Expressionist Modernism.

Through the display of just five paintings, ‘Two Sides of an Artist’ clearly shows the continuity and breaks in the life and work of Franz Radziwill who sought his own personal path between proximity, recognition, withdrawal and criticism under the National Socialists’ art policy that was marked by fundamental disputes.

Curator: Oliver Kase

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