Max Klinger (18571920), considered the German Michelangelo by his contemporaries, was not only famous for his sculptures and paintings but also for his prints, in particular. His innovations in this field were compared to no one less than Albrecht Dürer. Numerous 20th-century artists, including Max Beckmann, Käthe Kollwitz and Max Ernst, drew on the works of Max Klinger.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death, the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München
is commemorating the graphic artist who completed many of his major cycles in Munich and worked intensively with a publishing house in the city. The sensational new narrative style in Klingers graphic cycles is shown using selected examples and his last, rarely exhibited cycle Tent (Opus XIV, 191517) will be displayed in Munich for the first time.
Apart from Klingers native city of Leipzig, the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München houses one of the most extensive collections of his drawings and prints that have come from two sources. In 1957, the Leipzig art dealer Carl Beyers children donated his comprehensive collection of rare prints to the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung. Carl Beyer (18701948) had worked together with Klinger personally and compiled an appendix to the catalogue raisonné of his works on paper. Shortly afterwards, the Kunstverwaltung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland transferred the collection of the Chemnitz textile industrialist Hans Vogel (18671941) one of the artists major patrons to the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München as a permanent loan. It had been purchased in 1941 from Vogels heirs for the Führermuseum art gallery planned for Adolf Hitler in Linz. An explanation of these correlations as well as the idiosyncratic characteristics of Klingers prints form a prelude to the exhibition.
The exhibition itself is divided into three parts. The first two rooms illustrate the multifaceted quality of Klingers cycles where the focus is on the narrative structures and techniques used to achieve the wide variety of means of expression. Among others, the most famous cycle A Glove (1881, Op. VI), based on the artists own personal experience, can be seen here, as well as the Dramas cycle (1883, Op. IX). This summarises several social and political subjects that Klinger had addressed up until that time. The adjoining exhibition area shows how selected compositions for the cycles were created. Visitors can look over the aritsts shoulder as he reworks a figure, heightens graphic effects or alters a format. Discarded compositions and different states of a graphic work were already much in demand by contemporaries and were also to be found on the art market.
Forming the conclusion of the exhibition, the Tent cycle the culmination of Klingers oeuvre stands for the sum of his narrative artistry and fantastic pictorial invention in which the originary adventure story of an erotically sensual beauty unfolds in an oriental setting. Even if its execution were criticised by contemporaries and the storyline misunderstood, the cycle unites Klingers themes and all the technical possibilities of his Griffelkunst, as he called the art of the graphic print himself. The artist combined the line biting and aquatinta techniques of etching with copperplate engraving and mezzotint. As if referring to the new media of his day the cinema and the cartoon he developed a narrative structure full of suspense in his series of monumental images.
Curators: Dr. Andreas Strobl, Dr. Nino Nanobashvili