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Kunstforeningen GL STRAND features works by the German artist Hans Purrmann

COPENHAGEN.- Colourful landscapes, still lifes executed with heavy brush strokes, azure-coloured walls and the relations between light, hue and colour in paintings of interior, harmonious colour contrasts, decorative nude studies and portraits are some of the works you will experience in the exhibition The Vitality of Colour featuring the German artist Hans Purrmann. The exhibition is on display in Kunstforeningen GL STRAND. It is the first time that the recognised German painter is being featured at an exhibition of this scale in Denmark.

The exhibition is a retrospective of Purrmann’s works, connecting them with a selection of the artists he collaborated with or was inspired by – artists such as Max Liebermann, Henri Matisse, Mathilde Vollmoeller, Oskar and Marg Moll, Emy Roeder as well as the writer Hermann Hesse, all of whom may also be experienced in the exhibition.

Beautiful Landscapes from a Divided Europe
Today, Hans Purrmann is one of Germany’s most distinctive Colourist painters. As an artistic nomad and diplomat, he travelled and settled in various European countries throughout the 20th century – Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland – initially on his own initiative and forced by circumstances in a Europe full of upheavals and changes.

In the early 20th century he was a central figure – together with his close colleague Henri Matisse – in the international art setting that Matisse created in Paris through his Académie Matisse. Purrmann served as head of the school for the few years that the Académie existed.

Throughout his life, Purrmann continued to paint in a Colouristic Figurative expression with focus on colour and the decorative qualities of the painting. He explored the formal new breakthrough of Modernism, at the same time honouring the old masters. He developed his own unique style – a precise classification of which seems impossible – while persisting, despite war and external circumstances, in his search for beauty and perpetuity in the classical motifs: landscape, still life, interior and portrait. Like his mentor, Matisse, he envisioned art as an ‘escape from daily struggles’.

Derided by the Nazi Regime
In 1937, Purrmann was declared a ‘degenerate’ artist by the National Socialist regime. Two of his works were shown in Hitler’s travelling exhibition Entartete Kunst, after which 36 paintings and a large collection of graphics were removed from public museums in Germany. Unfortunately, most have never been found again.

The exhibition The Vitality of Colour at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND also shows Purrmann’s presence at the first important documenta exhibition in Kassel. The exhibition gathered the European artists who had been criticised and persecuted by the Nazi regime. In the following years, the exhibition was among the most important in the quest for avant-garde and new aesthetic tendencies.

The exhibition comes in continuation of Kunstforeningen GL STRAND’s engagement with Matisse and the period in question. Through the years, Kunstforeningen GL STRAND has presented several exhibitions with works by Matisse’s students which have taken the Nordic perspective as their starting point. These include the exhibitions Modern Women and Students of Matisse in the Nordic Countries in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

‘We want to introduce the Danish audience to an artist of great importance and with works of the highest quality, who – for various reasons – did not reach the same celebrity status as the greatest stars in art history’, says Helle Behrndt, Director of Kunstforeningen GL STRAND.

The exhibition The Vitality of Colour was created with generous support from the Foundation of Aage and Johanne Louis-Hansen, the Lizzie and Ejler Ruge Art Fund, the Knud Højgaard Foundation, the Arne V. Schleschs Foundation, the Augustinus Foundation, the Oticon Foundation and the Beckett Foundation.

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