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“The Folly Square”

Felix Nussbaum (1904 – 1944)

Painting by Felix Nussbaum, oil on canvas, 97 x 195,5 cm

In the foreground, in the centre of the beige-grey painting: a group of young artists in pale smocks with paintings. More paintings are being unloaded from a vehicle on the right. Left: professors dressed in black form a long queue three abreast. In the background, Max Liebermann stands on a half-crumbling building.

© Expired

Turbulent goings-on at Pariser Platz in Berlin: young artists unload their paintings outside the Prussian Academy of the Arts while its distinguished professors file through the door. In the background we see Max Liebermann, the president of the Academy, on the roof of his house right next to the Brandenburg Gate. He is working on a self-portrait held for him by Victoria, the goddess of victory. She has torn herself off the Victory Column on the right of the frame, but in mid-flight she loses the laurel wreath which, since Ancient times, has been the mark of distinction for success.

Felix Nussbaum (1904–1944) depicts the generation conflict with irony: by the early 1930s, artists of Liebermann’s age – seen as “rebels” at the turn of the century – had become established dignitaries. From the point-of-view of younger artists, they were now defending a fossilised, obsolete tradition in art and standing in the way of new trends. No wonder the 27-year-old Nussbaum shot to fame in Berlin with “The Folly Square”.

The Folly Square
Oil on canvas
97 x 195,5 cm
Acquired with funds from the Foundation DKLB, Berlin 1975

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