Leicester Museums gifted "outstanding" Brooks collection of German Expressionist art

By Culture24 Staff | 19 October 2009
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a sketch of aman next to a skeleton

Lovis Corinth, The Artist & Death I (1916). Etching & Drypoint. © Leicester Arts and Museums Service

Leicester Arts and Museums Service has been gifted an outstanding collection of early 20th century German Expressionist artworks.

The Brooks collection includes works by Lovis Corinth, Franz Marc, Lyonel Feininger, Otto Dix, Conrad Felixmuller and Käthe Kollwitz, amassed during the last 6 - 7 years by locally-born businessman Michael Brooks.

Born in Leicester in 1944 (coincidentally the founding year of Leicester’s German Expressionist art collection), Brooks developed a taste for the Expressionist style of art in his young years after a trip to see a Leicester film society screening of the Robert Wiene masterpiece, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.

a porcelain figure of a woman with a begging bowl

Ernst Barlach, Russian Beggarwoman with bowl (1995 edition, from the original 1912 cast). Porcelain. © Leicester Arts and Museums Service

Inspired to collect after subsequently visiting the 20th century German art collection at Leicester's New Walk Museum, his enthusiasm for Expressionist literature, art and film developed into, as he puts it, "a passion for the entire movement which has never left me."

"My affection for the city in which I grew up has never waned and, with my 65th birthday and retirement imminent, I felt there was no better time to offer my collection to the Leicester Art Gallery," said Brooks.

"I am proud and delighted that they have accepted it. I know my collection could have no better home."

a sketch of a wild looking man in bed

Walter Gramatté, Akaky in a Delirium (1919). Lithograph. © Leicester Arts and Museums Service

Numbering more than 60 artworks encompassing paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture, staff at the Museums Service immediately became aware that this was no ordinary collection after Brooks approached them in 2009.

Simon Lake, Senior Curator of Art at the Service, said the donation was "simply fantastic."

"This is one of the largest gifts of artworks we've ever received, and the scale of his generosity is overwhelming," he added.

"These are powerful artworks of real substance and quality, which will add a whole new dimension to German Expressionism at Leicester."

an abstract woodcut with animals and other expressionistic shapes and motifs

Franz Marc, Legend of the Animals (1912). Woodcut. © Leicester Arts and Museums Service

The Brooks Gift will be exhibited at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery from October 31 to February 28 2010. It runs alongside the exhibition A Journey Out Of Darkness – Leicester's Collection of German Expressionist Art.

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