The Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery celebrates the opening of History’s Shadow: German Art and the Formulation of National Identity with a reception on Thursday, March 13, from 5 to 7 pm in Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus. The exhibit, curated by Joseph S. Mella, gallery director, will remain on view through June 5.
Presented as the first survey of German art from the Fine Arts Gallery’s collections, History’s Shadow: German Art and the Formulation of National Identity addresses the role of history in shaping German art and how that history has influenced the formulation of German identity. This exhibition also will address how we, in turn, view German art through a lens ground in our complex relationship with the German past, with World War II still coloring how many Americans and Germans alike view Germany, its culture, and its art.
While not a comprehensive survey of German art, History’s Shadow spans 500 years, with particular attention given to political and cultural events and the way these events “cast a shadow” on both the artists and the art created by them. The earliest German work in the Fine Arts Gallery’s collection is the melancholic Rhenish Pietà, a late medieval work (ca. 1450-1460). Old Master prints are well represented, beginning in the fifteenth century with works by such artists as Albrecht Dürer and his teacher, Michael Wolgemut.
Also featured are several works by artists called the kleine Meister, or “Little Masters,” a group of German artists active in the first half of the sixteenth century who produced a wide range of small-scale, intricately worked prints, nearly all of which were engravings. Artists from the period leading up to and immediately following World War I, such as Erich Heckel, Max Klinger, Conrad Felixmüller, and Kathë Kollwitz, are included, reflecting the impact of the war on Germany and its artists. Art from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is represented by Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, the conceptualist Thomas Locher, and an excerpt from Christiane Baumgartner’s 1 Sekunde, a meditation on time and contemporaneity.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 11 am to 4 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 pm from March 13-April 30; and Tuesday through Friday, noon to 4 pm, and Saturday, 1-5 pm from May 1-June 5. Free and open to the public, the Fine Arts Gallery is housed in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, on the western edge of the Peabody College campus. Parking is available in Lot 95 outside Cohen Hall, off 21st Avenue South on the Peabody campus and across from Medical Center East.
History’s Shadow: German Art and the Formulation of National Identity is made possible by a generous gift from Leslie Cecil and Creighton Michael, MA’76.