The circle around Kirchner. Expressionismus aus den Bergen

20 June 2007

From 15 September 2007 to 13 January 2008, the Groninger Museum will present the exhibition entitled The Circle around Kirchner - Expressionismus aus den Bergen. This large-scale exhibition concentrates on the artists who enjoyed close contact with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in the surroundings of Davos in the period 1920-1926.

The exhibition entitled The Circle around Kirchner - Expressionismus aus den Bergen is the first to bring together work by Kirchner and the young artists who drew upon his achievements in the period 1920-1926: Wiegers, Müller, Scherer, Camenisch, and Bauknecht. By referring to paintings, drawings, prints and wood sculptures, the exhibition provides an outline of how an Expressionist approach could arise in the surroundings of Davos. Although this attitude can be traced back to the work of Kirchner, it also shows marks of the local surroundings as well as features borrowed from the situation. Ultimately, the period of vehement and jointly experienced Expressionism lasted only a short time, which can primarily be attributed to the early deaths of Scherer (1926) and Müller (1927). Wiegers, who stayed near Davos in the period 1920-1921 and again in 1925, carefully began to explore new paths from 1927 onward. In De Ploeg, the Groningen artists’ association, the inspiration Wiegers had gained in Davos resulted in a particular variant of Swiss Expressionism – nowadays referred to as ‘Groningen Expressionism’ – whose most important representatives were Jan Wiegers, Jan Altink, Hendrik Werkman, and Johan Dijkstra.

The exhibition The circle around Kirchner - Expressionismus aus den Bergen not only links the Expressionism of De Ploeg with that of Kirchner and the Swiss artists, it also shows how shared notions and working methods could be translated into expressive paintings, works on paper and sculptures, all of which are articulations of personal sentiment. The various artworks on display sketch an image of a vital type of Expressionism with its own specific characteristics.

The exploratory research on North European Expressionism that has been performed in the Groninger Museum in the past few years has made it clear that, after the First World War, a ‘zweite expressionistische Welle’ (second expressionistic spring) appeared that was more original and richer than had been assumed up until now. The study has also made it evident that Expressionism in Groningen occupied a less isolated position than was thought, and that it was a part of a broader Expressionistic movement. It has become apparent that it had an obvious kinship with Expressionism in Switzerland.

The exhibition is an initiative of the Groninger Museum and has been organized in close co-operation with the Kunstmuseum Bern and the Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur, which are the first and last stations of the exhibition respectively.

A richly illustrated book Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Friends. Expressionism from the Swiss Mountains will appear to accompany the exhibition. Published by Scheidegger & Spiess Publishers AG, 8001 Zurich. There is the possibility to order this catalogue here.

The exhibition will be on display at three locations: Kunstmuseum Bern, 27 April – 19 August 2007 Groninger Museum Groningen, 15 September 2007- 13 January 2008 Bündner kunstmuseum Chur, 16 February – 25 May 2008

Note for the editor
Curator: Han Steenbruggen
Exhibition layout: Mark Wilson
For additional information, please contact: Groninger Museum, Josee Selbach +31 (0)50-3666555,