Symposium, Digital

Expressionism Revisited
Panel I: Global Contexts (EN)

This panel will explore the dissemination, reception, and transformation of German expressionism on the European periphery and outside of Europe. Specific focus will be on the intellectual ideas and artistic concepts that were associated with expressionism and incorporated into modernist and contemporary western and non-Western art practices. Examining the spread of expressionism to various local communities, peripheral regions, and non-Western art contexts, this panel will highlight the complex political, social, and cultural dimensions in the reception of expressionism and provide new insights into the role that expressionism as an artistic language played in political activism, alternative cultures, and the ongoing anti-colonial debates.

Host: Prof. Dr. Isabel Wünsche (Constructor University)

Prof. Dr. Isabel Wünsche is Professor of Art and Art History at Constructor University in Bremen. She studied Art History, Classical and Christian Archaeology in Berlin, Moscow, Heidelberg, and Los Angeles and received her PhD from Heidelberg University. Her research interests are European modernism and its global dissemination, the avant-garde movements, abstract art, and émigré networks. She has received numerous grants and fellowships; her most recent book publications include The Routledge Companion to Expressionism in a Transnational Context (2018), Bauhaus Diaspora and Beyond: Transforming Education through Art, Design and Architecture (2019), and 100 Years On: Revisiting the First Russian Art Exhibition of 1922 (2022).


Miha Colner (Galerija Božidar Jakac – Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art): Peripheral Manifestations of Expressionism: A Case Study on Slovenia (EN)

Referring to the 2018–19 exhibition Faces of Expressionism at GBJ (Kostanjevica na Krki, Slovenia) and GASK (Kutna Hora, Czech Republic), I will draw comparisons between German/Austrian and other variations of expressionism across Central Europe. My focus will be on the characteristics of expressionism in the Slovenian cultural milieu in contrast to other variants in Germany, Austria, Croatia, and Czechoslovakia. I will highlight the specific socio-political contexts that shaped Slovenian society, culture, and art of the 1910s and 1920s and led to the spread of expressionism in the peripheral cultural milieus by the end of the First World War and thereafter. I will furthermore address local features and specific characteristics of expressionism in terms of style and subject matter.

Miha Colner is an art historian who works as a curator at Galerija Božidar Jakac – Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Kostanjevica na Krki. He is also active as a lecturer and publicist in the fields of visual art and visual culture. In the period 2017–2020, he was a curator at MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts and, from 2006 to 2016, at Photon – Centre for Contemporary Photography, both in Ljubljana. Since 2005, he has been publishing articles in newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, as well as on his own blog.


Lisa Hörstmann (Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart): German Expressionism and the Emergence of a Female Avant-Garde in South Africa (EN)

South African modernism was largely coined by two women expressionists: Irma Stern (1894–1966) and Maggie Laubser (1886–1973). Having spent their childhoods (and in Laubser’s case early adulthood) in South Africa, they both came into contact with Brücke expressionism during extensive sojourns in Berlin in the 1910s and 1920s. Benefiting from the current interest in supposedly “primitive” cultures, Stern especially was able to position herself as a woman and painter deeply familiar with South Africa’s Black “natives.” In the German press, she was described as superior to Paul Gauguin and Max Pechstein in this respect. My presentation will look at the reception of her work in Germany as well as in South Africa. While Stern concentrated on the “exotic,” Laubser’s expressionism was more domestic. Her consciously naïve portrayals of rural farm scenes that showed Black and Coloured workers in harmony with the (cultivated) land and livestock were read as authentic representations of a simple truth. Although their works can be considered to pay respect to Black South Africans, I will show that they also reinforced the segregation of South African society at the time.

Lisa Hörstmann obtained her PhD in Art History in the Global Context/Africa from Freie Universität Berlin. Her dissertation focuses on South African modernity. She holds master’s degrees in Art History from Open University and in Curating Visual Culture from Sheffield Hallam University, both in the United Kingdom. She has worked as a curatorial assistant at MaximiliansForum in Munich and as a research assistant at Heiner Bastian Fine Art in Berlin. Currently, she is an assistant curator at Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart in Berlin.


Dr. Erin Sullivan Maynes (Los Angeles County Museum of Art): Käthe Kollwitz and the New Woodcut Movement in China (EN)

In the early 1930s, a group known as the New Woodcut Movement pioneered a powerful form of printmaking that drew on China’s long tradition of block printing combined with the rough, energetic style and politically engaged subject matter of modern–especially German–woodcuts. These artists encountered the work of their western counterparts through the promotion of the writer, critic, and poet Lu Xun (1881–1936), an advocate who considered the woodcut the most accessible vehicle for circulating revolutionary ideas among the masses. My presentation will look at the dissemination of prints by Käthe Kollwitz in China during the 1930s, as well as the ways her subject matter and style were adopted and adapted by Chinese artists.

Dr. Erin Sullivan Maynes is Assistant Curator in the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her exhibitions include the current Pressing Politics: Revolutionary Graphics from Mexico and Germany (2022–23). Among her recent publications are Pressing Politics (LACMA, 2022) and “Making Money: Notgeld and the Material Experience of Inflation” (Art History, 2019). Her curatorial practice centers on histories of print and paper, and her research interests focus on the materials, technologies, and dissemination of print in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Tamari Mchedlishvili (Ivane Javakhishvilli Tbilisi State University): The Influence of German Expressionism on Georgian Art of the 1980s and 1990s (EN)

The influence of German expressionism is prominent in Georgian art of the 1980s and 1990s, specifically in the works of The 10th-Floor Artists. Starting in 1986, this group of young painters congregated on the tenth floor of the art academy studio building and turned discussions about European modernism into practical work. Painting their new ideas on linens, their abstract and figurative compositions, shaped by distorted forms, unusually strong and unnatural colors, thick black contours, and expressive brush strokes, were inspired and influenced by the art of the Brücke artists. The expressionist style of Die Brücke served them as a tool to express their resistance and protest to the established Soviet art system. In my paper, I will explore how expressionism became a major influence on Georgian art of the 1980s and 1990s and in what ways it shaped the artists’ work.

Tamari Mchedlishvili is pursuing her doctorate in art history at Tbilisi State University, Georgia. Her research focuses on the influence of German expressionism and neo-expressionism on Georgian art in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2018, she founded the Contemporary Art Studio “not a museum,” an educational center and research laboratory. She is also a member of the non-profit organization “new collective for art” which addresses social issues through creative work. Since 2012, she has participated in various artistic events and projects. Currently, she works as an art manager and curator at the Contemporary Art Gallery Novo in Tbilisi.


Katrin Nahidi (Universität Graz): Expressionistic Tendencies in Iran (EN)

Analyzing Charles Hossein Zenderoudi’s work, Who is this Hossein the World is so crazy about? (1958), I will examine religious iconography in an expressionist language as an important tool to situate artistic expression in the ongoing anti-colonial debates about Iran’s westoxification. This artistic language enabled the artist to explore Shi’ite iconography from a fresh perspective and bring Shi’ite traditions back to the present. Expressionism provided a political legacy and an effective yet figurative language to reject the decorum of the established Shi’ite iconography in Iran; it represented a visual means of intensifying Imam Hussein’s suffering as an experience of pain, misery, and devastation, which informed the political and intellectual discourse in Iran from the 1960s onward.

Kathrin Nahidi is a research assistant for modern and contemporary art in the Institute of Art History at the University of Graz. She studied Art History, History and Culture of the Middle East, and Modern German Literature at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. Her dissertation was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation as part of the Sinergia project Other Modernities – Practices and Patrimony of Visual Expression Outside the West at the University of Bern and the Free University Berlin (2013–2017). In 2023, her monograph titled The Cultural Politics of Art in Iran: Modernism, Exhibitions, and Art Production will be published by Cambridge University Press.


Dr. Rahul Dev (National Museum Institute, Noida/New Delhi): German Expressionism and its Reception in Indian Modernism (EN)

Expressionist worldviews are reflecting changes in war ridden societies and are opposing the industrialization and rationalization of everyday life. Looking at the reception of expressionism in Indian modernism of the late 1980s to 2000s, I will explore how the expressionist idiom became a vital characteristic in the practice of a number of Indian artists whose work was charged by political cataclysm and activism and shaped at the intersection of gender, class, and caste.

Dr. Rahul Dev teaches Art History and German at the National Museum Institute (NCR) in Delhi, India. His dissertation (from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi) focuses on German expressionism and its reception in modern Indian art. His current research interests include art history, art criticism, German studies, and marginal art. He has received fellowships from institutions such as Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Getty Research Institute and worked on publication projects with Asia Art Archive and the Arts Development Program in Delhi. As a co-curator, he contributed to the Bodhgaya Biennale. His reviews and essays, among them a recent article on “Expressivity” in Indian art collectives, are published widely.

This is a closed event with a limited number of participants. The event will be digitally broadcast live.
-> To the Livestream

Add to iCal or Google Calendar