Wilhelm Lehmbruck Exhibition

Michael Werner Gallery

poster for Wilhelm Lehmbruck Exhibition

This event has ended.

The first major Wilhelm Lehmbruck exhibition in the U.S. in more than two decades has reconfirmed his importance as one of the most progressive sculptors of the early 20th century. In fact, it leaves one lamenting that there has only been one American museum retrospective to date, at the National Gallery of Art in 1972. Like his contemporaries Auguste Rodin and Aristide Maillol, Lehmbruck had significant international impact, during his life and beyond. In 1986, for example, almost 70years after Lehmbruck’s premature death, Joseph Beuys credited him as his main inspiration for taking up sculpture.

As a Modernist, Lehmbruck aimed to find a new visual language for expressing human emotions. Though he had a classic sensibility for structural harmony, his figures are far from idealistic. They are symbolic but rooted in life, abstract in that they depict not individuals but aspects of the human soul. Stylistically, Lehmbruck’s works are hybrids. Gothic and Romantic aesthetics can be traced, as well as an affinity for Mannerist forms. Elongated limbs that bestow a general sense of liquid physicality characterize his figures. Their necks, legs, arms, and hands are often pronounced, leaving them to appear both delicately fragile and iconic. At times, their heads tilt slightly to the side as if pondering the world as something impenetrable. A trace of longing simmers in their gazes, while their postures suggest melancholy. They seem to reflect on things past, with a fear of what is yet to come.

Lehmbruck, who was born in Duisburg in 1881, received traditional artistic training. At the turn of the 20th century, he studied in Düsseldorf, first at the School of Arts and Crafts and later at the Academy. He never completely broke with the classical ideals of his education. However, when he encountered Rodin’s work in 1904, Lehmbruck began to reinvestigate form and means of expression. After settling in Paris in 1910, where he met Matisse, Brancusi, and Archipenko, among others, his figures became more fragmented and his materials, including cast stone and terra cotta, embraced the raw.

[Image: Wilhelm Lehmbruck "Mother and Child" (1918) cast stone, 21 x 7 1/2 x 15 in.]



from January 19, 2013 to March 01, 2013

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