Embracing
Modernism

Berlin art around 1900

Anton von Werner, Unveiling of the Richard-Wagner-Monument in the Tiergarten, 1908
Anton von Werner, Unveiling of the Richard-Wagner-Monument in the Tiergarten, 1908
© Expired

Unlike London or Paris, Berlin did not become a capital city until 1871, when the many German states merged into a single empire, the “Deutsches Reich”. In the following years Berlin evolved rapidly to become a true metropolis – and a hub of modern art.

Hermann Rückwardt, Ohne Titel (Hochbahnbrücke über den Landwehrkanal, Nähe Gleisdreieck), 1903
Hermann Rückwardt, Ohne Titel (Hochbahnbrücke über den Landwehrkanal, Nähe Gleisdreieck), 1903
© Expired

By 1900 the city was the biggest industrial conurbation in the country with a population growing by the day. New districts sprang up, plans were adopted for overground and underground railways, schools and theatres. Many photographers were fascinated by this growth and change. Early urban photography had been a purely documentary medium, but Heinrich Zille’s portrayal of everyday life on the streets of Berlin strikes an unusually modern chord. As a photographer and illustrator, he was acutely aware of increasing social contrasts.

Visual artists reacted in very different ways to the dramatic transformation. The ruling classes – Kaiser Wilhelm II, the aristocrats and wealthy industrialists – continued to promote a photographically realistic style of art that sought to glorify tradition, the emperor and the empire. Artists such as Anton von Werner, court painter and director of the Royal College of Fine Art, set the tone for the conservative tastes of the time with idealised paintings of historical events, public occasions and portraits. Impressionists like Max Liebermann and Lesser Ury, by contrast, shocked the audience with their sketchier, looser brushwork and provocatively everyday themes. Their motifs were (urban) landscapes, the world of entertainment, portraits, but also urban poverty.
In 1898, a few progressive artists founded the Berlin Secession as a counterweight to the academic art world, with Liebermann as their first president. The Secessionists included artists from other countries in their exhibitions and displayed a full range of modern styles: Naturalism, Symbolism, Jugendstil (Art Deco), Impressionism and Pointillism.

Represented Artists (Selection)

Anton
von Werner

1843 - 1915

Lesser
Ury

1861 - 1931

Walter
Leistikow

1865 - 1908

Max
Liebermann

1847 - 1935

Works on display

Jens Birkholm (1869 - 1915), Warming Hall in Berlin

1908
Öl auf Leinwand
88 x 117 cm (Bildmaß), 102 x 127 x 7,5 cm (Rahmenmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Philipp Franck (1860 - 1944), After the Ceremony

um 1902
Öl auf Leinwand
100 x 130 cm (Bildmaß), 104 x 133,5 x 4 cm (Rahmenmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Moriz Melzer (1877 - 1966), The Dance (Girls at the Beach)

um 1908
Öl auf Leinwand
120 x 120 cm (Bildmaß)
© Renate Kneifel

William Pape (1859 - 1920), Portrait Study Fritz Schaper, Sculptor

1904
Öl auf Karton
50 x 35,5 cm (Bildmaß), ohne Rahmen (Rahmenmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

William Pape (1859 - 1920), Portrait Study August v. Mackensen, Prussian General

1900/1905
Öl auf Karton
46 x 36 cm (Bildmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

William Pape (1859 - 1920), Portrait Study Prof. Emil Warburg, Physicist

1900/1905
Öl auf Karton
50 x 36 cm (Bildmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

William Pape (1859 - 1920), Portrait Study Adolf Erman, Ägyptologe, Director of the Egyptian Museum

1900/1905
Öl auf Karton
49,6 x 35,5 cm (Bildmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Franz Skarbina (1849 - 1910), Lady on a Promenade of a Seaside Resort

1883
Öl auf Leinwand
136 x 83,5 cm (Bildmaß), 148,5 x 99,5 x 5 cm (Rahmenmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Eugen Spiro (1874 - 1972), The Dancer Baladine Klossowski (Merline)

1901
Öl auf Leinwand
161,5 x 121 cm (Bildmaß), 181 x 141 x 6 cm (Rahmenmaß)
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Louis Tuaillon (1862 - 1919), Amazon

Orginal 1890-95
Bronze
H 56 cm (Objektmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Lesser Ury (1861 - 1931), Reclining Nude

1889
Öl auf Leinwand
96,3 x 177,5 cm (Bildmaß), 132,1 x 213,5 x 7 cm (Rahmenmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Anton von Werner (1843 - 1915), Unveiling of the Richard-Wagner Monument in the Tiergarten

1908
Öl auf Leinwand
227 x 312,3 cm (Bildmaß), 257 x 344 x 13,5 cm (Rahmenmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Nicola Perscheid (1864 - 1930), Lady standing in front of a wooden pillar

undatiert
Mattes Kollodiumverfahren
22,5 x 12,5 cm (Bildmaß), 35,5 x 22 cm (Blattmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Nicola Perscheid (1864 - 1930), Portrait of a society lady

undatiert
Silbergelatinepapier
22 x 14,5 cm (Bildmaß), 36 x 28 cm (Blattmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Nicola Perscheid (1864 - 1930), Untitled

1900-1910
Pigmentdruck
22,1 x 14,9 cm (Bildmaß), 35,8 x 27,9 cm (Trägermaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Nicola Perscheid (1864 - 1930), Two Girls of Family von Seefeld, Zehlendorf

um 1905
Platindruck
23 x 17 cm (Bildmaß), 24 x 17,5 cm (Fotopapiermaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Heinrich Zille (1858 - 1929), Untitled (Probably in Charlottenburg)

August 1901
Silbergelatinepapier
20,1 x 26,8 cm (Bildmaß), 23,3 x 29,4 cm (Blattmaß), 70 x 50 cm (Passepartoutmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Heinrich Zille (1858 - 1929), Untitled (Tent with Ballard-Singer Billboard), September

September 1900
Silbergelatinepapier
20,9 x 26,2 cm (Bildmaß), 23,9 x 29,9 cm (Blattmaß), 60 x 50 cm (Passepartoutmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Heinrich Zille (1858 - 1929), Untitled (Outer Wall with Latrines)

1900
Silbergelatinepapier
20,7 x 26,2 cm (Bildmaß), 24 x 30 cm (Blattmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Heinrich Zille (1858 - 1929), Untitled (Inside a Tent), September

September 1900
Silbergelatinepapier
20,8 x 26,1 cm (Bildmaß), 24 x 30 cm (Fotopapiermaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Heinrich Zille (1858 - 1929), Untitled (Sandy Track to the Rubbish Dump at Westend in Charlottenburg), Summer

Sommer 1898
Silbergelatinepapier
20,7 x 26,2 cm (Bildmaß), 23,8 x 29,9 cm (Fotopapiermaß), 70 x 50 cm (Passepartoutmaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Heinrich Zille (1858 - 1929), Untitled (Probably by the Tracks of Berlin’s Circular Railway), Autumn

Herbst 1898
Silbergelatinepapier
20,7 x 26,2 cm (Bildmaß), 23,8 x 29,9 cm (Fotopapiermaß)
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

Further topics

Jacoba van Heemskerck, Landscape, Painting I, around 1914

Mental states and
urban neurosis

Expressionism in Berlin 1910 – 1918

Raoul Hausmann, OFFEAH, 1918

Metropolis
Berlin

Dada, Novembergruppe and New Vision 1918–1933

Willy Römer, Untitled („Erste Russische Kunstausstellung in der Galerie van Diemen“), 1922

Berlin as a hub
between
East and West

Constructivism in the 1920s

Peter Foerster, Still Life with Oranges, around 1924

Europe’s most
objective capital

New Objectivity in the 1920s

All topics

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