“Comic Grotesque: Wit and Mockery in German Art, 1870-1940” to open October 15

“Comic Grotesque: Wit and Mockery in German Art, 1870-1940” to open October 15

More than 70 Works from Private and Public Collections Assembled for Major Loan Exhibition

NEW YORK (September 13, 2004)—On October 15, the Neue Galerie opens "Comic Grotesque: Wit and Mockery in German Art, 1870-1940," an exhibition that explores an important but often neglected aspect of early twentieth-century German art: humor. Among the artists being presented are Arnold Böcklin, Hannah Höch, Paul Klee, Alfred Kubin, and Emil Nolde. In addition to paintings, drawings, posters, and sculpture, the exhibition features a room devoted to the groundbreaking films of Karl Valentin. Connections among the visual arts, cabaret culture, and satirical journals are also considered. The exhibition will remain on view through February 14, 2005.

"As a genre, the comic grotesque is full of life-affirming audacity, as well as surprise and irreverent wit," said Renée Price, director of the Neue Galerie. "Though often suppressed and obscured, this current has had far-reaching consequences for developments in international art."

"I am delighted to see 'Comic Grotesque' presented at our museum," said Ronald S. Lauder, president of the Neue Galerie. "These works are of greater meaning than ever to a younger generation of artists, who are struggling to come to terms with the twists and turns of this first decade of the twenty-first century."

"Comic Grotesque" has been organized by Dr. Pamela Kort, an independent curator based in Berlin. A different version of this exhibition, entitled "Grotesk! 130 Jahre Kunst der Frechheit", originated at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt and traveled to the Haus der Kunst in Munich.

The exhibition begins with late-nineteenth century paintings by Arnold Böcklin, demonstrating his influence on a number of major artists. It traces the history of comic-grotesque art over a seventy-year period in Germany, from its first flowering to its denunciation by the National Socialists. Although humor tends to be rooted in a particular time and place, many of these works—from Max Klinger's Pissing Death (1880), with its bizarre image of a skeleton passing water, to Georg Scholz's Industrial Farmers (1920), which portrays a disfigured, Neanderthal, but still pious family—remain amusing, shocking, and fascinating to this day.

The Neue Galerie will host three lectures in connection with the exhibition. On Monday, October 18, at 6:30 p.m., Pamela Kort, curator of "Comic Grotesque," will deliver a lecture entitled "The Grotesque: Modernism's Other." On Monday, October 25, at 6:30 p.m., Sabine Hake, professor at the University of Texas at Austin, will discuss the performer Karl Valentin in a lecture entitled "The Valentin Effect." On Monday, November 1, at 6:30 p.m., Robert Storr, professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, will speak on the grotesque and contemporary art in a lecture entitled "Reason's Dream, Reason's Nightmare." The Neue Galerie will also host one adjunct lecture on Monday, November 8, at 6:30 p.m., when Sophie Lillie, author of Was einmal war (What Once Was), will address the topic, "Restitution in Austria: A Quest for Justice."

In addition to the Karl Valentin films that will be shown as part of the exhibition, the Neue Galerie will host a separate film series that explores the artist's work in greater depth. On Saturday, October 16 and 23, at 2 p.m., Karl Valentins Hochzeit (Karl Valentin's Wedding), 1913, and other short works will be shown. On Saturday, October 30 and November 6, at 2 p.m., the feature-length Der Sonderling (The Eccentric), 1929, will be screened. On Saturday, November 13 and 20, at 2 p.m., Im Photoatelier (At the Photo Shop), 1932, and other short films will be presented. On Saturday, November 27 and December 4, at 2 p.m., Im Schallplattenladen (At the Record Shop), 1934, and other short films will be shown. "Karl Valentin" was organized by Laura Della Vedova, with the assistance of Juliane Wanckel of the Goethe-Institut, New York, and Gunter Fette, Administrator of the Estate of Karl Valentin.

Neue Galerie New York is open to the public four days per week: Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $10 (students and seniors, $7). Children under 12 are not admitted and those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. The Book Store and Design Shop are open six days per week: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Café Sabarsky is also open six days per week: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


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