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Against the light. German art of the twentieth century from the collection of George Economou
May 24, 2013 - January 19, 2014
Halls of the third floor in the Main Staff of the Court Gallery

The State Hermitage presents the best works of German artists of the twentieth century from the collection of George Economou (Athens). The collection was launched in 1990; works were purchased at major international auctions in galleries in Germany, Austria and the UK.

George Economou owns the largest collection of paintings and graphic art by major artists of German Expressionism and New Objectivity of the 1920 - 1930's – Otto Dix, Christian Schad, George Grosz, Conrad Felixmüller – manifested after the First World War, when German society was gripped by the dominant atmosphere of decadence and rampant cynicism, casting aside tradition of artistic idealization of reality and falling back on social criticism and caricature. In the thirties, New Objectivity and Expressionism were branded by official German propaganda as degenerate art, and was the subject of destruction and symbolic desecration.

New interpretation of expressionism came as a reaction to the minimalist and conceptual art. German expressionism back in the late 70's - early 80's in the works of neoexpressionists and "new Fauves" in Germany, especially Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Jörg Immendorff, Markus Lüpertz. Neoexpressionists in their art returned to the imagery, partly figurative, emotional manner and bright saturated colors. Baselitz's key work during this period is "Eagle in bed" (1982) presented in the Hermitage. The exhibition by German Expressionists from the 20-30's are in parallel with neoexpressionist Ernst Kirchner "Leisure Lady" (1912) and Georg Baselitz "70-year-old model sings again" (2011). Despite that these works created almost a century apart, they are very clearly seen in a one trend, which is rare in the current situation of artistic diversity.

The main focus of the exhibition will be one of the last works of Anselm Kiefer's "Tempelhof", created in 2011, which confirms the relevance of artistic paradigms of the Cold War and the importance of the experience for recent expressionist artists.

The exhibition is temporary, but long-term exposure, which is part of a five-year program to display the art of the twentieth century in the Hermitage, aims to consistently provide the essential works of different art movements of the twentieth century in Western Europe.

The exhibition is a parallel project with the "Masterpieces of Art of the XX century from the Albertina", which will be held at the Hermitage from October 9, 2013 to January 12, 2014. The exhibition is organized by the State Hermitage together with the collection of George Economou. Along with the exhibition an illustrated catalog will be issued, which includes articles by Dieter Buhhart, Dmitry Ozerkov and Daria Bubnova.

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