Leicester's German Expressionist art gems resurface at New Walk

By Culture24 Reporter | 13 October 2011
An image of an expressionist painting of a face
A Jawlensky, Head in Black and Green (circa 1956). Lith poster (from original painting, 1913)© Leicester City Council
Exhibition: Expressionist Spirit: Early 20th Century German Art, Gallery 14, New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester

In 1944, a groundbreaking exhibition, Mid-European Art, was held at Leicester’s New Walk.

Thought up by energetic curator Trevor Thomas, it was full of work from private collections brought to England by refugee artists and buyers fleeing Hitler and the National Socialist Party, and spawned one of the finest domestic German Expressionist collections, full of powerful emotions in work by those who informed, were involved in or became influenced by the movement.

Almost 70 years later – and 36 years after organisers decided to give it prestige by writing the acquisition of modern German art into their buying policy – highlights from the 350-strong selection have been put on permanent display, gathered by art lovers including Tekla Hess, the widow of the Erfut shoe manufacturer and renowned collector Alfred Hess, and the art historian Dr Rosa Schapire.

Notable initial pieces included Franz Marc’s Red Woman, Lyonel Feininger's Behind The Church, Emil Nolde's Head with Red-Black Hair and Max Pechstein's The Bridge at Eruft, all originally assembled by Hess.

The haul continues to grow, but for now their return to prominence is a welcome development in a city whose collection could draw envious eyes from European curators.

  • Open 10am-5pm (11am-5pm Sunday). Admission free.
More works from the display:

A black and white etching of men in a boat at sea
EL Kirchner, Sailing Boat off Fehmarn (1914)© Leicester City Council
An image of a colourful expressionist painting of a female figure
Franz Marc, Red Woman (1912). Oil
© Leicester City Council
An image of a black and white etching of animals
Franz Marc, Legend of the Animals© Leicester City Council
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