German Expressionism

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Frankfurter Kunstverein

Starr Figura, German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2011

Frankfurt art association established in 1829. One of many Kunstvereine founded in the early nineteenth century that reflected the cultural aspirations of the rising bourgeoisie in various German cities, among the oldest being Karlsruhe, Munich, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt. Its aims were to educate the public about art, enable and inspire private art collecting, and promote contemporary (usually local) artists by exhibiting or selling their works in the association's gallery space. In return for their membership subscription, members could participate in an annual raffle of contemporary artworks; they also received an annual gift, either a reproduction of an artwork or an original print commissioned by the association. In the early twentieth century the Frankfurter Kunstverein challenged the reactionary art politics of the Wilhelmine state. Georg Swarzenski, a renowned art historian and director of Frankfurt's Städel Museum, served as a board member beginning 1911 and was instrumental in this regard. Between 1904 and 1930, under director Carl Marcus, the group published prints by Max Beckmann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Alfred Kubin, among others. During the Nazi era, it came under the supervision of the Reich Culture Chamber, which purged it of its non-Aryan members and "degenerate" artworks. Still active today.

Selected Bibliography

Gravenkamp, Curt. Rückblick auf Geschichte und Tätigkeit des Frankfurter Kunstvereins vom Jahre 1829 bis zum Jahre 1954. Frankfurt: Frankfurter Kunstverein, 1954.

Junge, Henrike. Wohlfeile Kunst: Die Verbreitung von Künstlergraphik seit 1870 und die Griffelkunst-Vereinigung. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 1989.

Iris Schmeisser

Published by Frankfurter Kunstverein

  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Head of Ludwig Schames (Kopf Ludwig Schames). (1918)
    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
    Head of Ludwig Schames (Kopf Ludwig Schames)
    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Head of Ludwig Schames (Kopf Ludwig Schames). (1918)
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