Making Myth Modern: Primordial Themes in German 20th-Century Sculpture

, Busch-Reisinger Museum

Busch-Reisinger Museum

This exhibition features seven 20th-century German sculptures from the Busch-Reisinger Museum that reinterpret mythological themes through the artists’ biographies and the events of their time. The artists—Franz von Stuck, Renée Sintenis, Max Beckmann, Gerhard Marcks, Bernard Schultze, and Joseph Beuys—addressed such fundamental subjects as creation, nature, and gender relations but departed increasingly from traditional iconography. Schultze invented a new myth, and Beuys merged elements of myth, alchemy, and science in his concept of “social sculpture.”
The examination of German artists’ use of myth in the 20th century is particularly compelling given Germany’s role in two world wars as well as the Third Reich’s persecution of modern artists and use of myths for its own political ends. The artists represented here created, among other works, a barbaric female warrior of sleek bronze (Stuck), an athletic Daphne without Apollo (Sintenis), and a dejected Prometheus with his wrists bound (Marcks). Schultze explored new materials and subjects and perhaps characterized his times in describing a colorful, free-form “Migof” that he created out of wire, textiles, and paint as “not sculpture, not painting,” but “a border situation.” Organized by Solveig Köbernick, 2005–07 Michalke Curatorial Intern, Busch-Reisinger Museum. A brochure accompanies this exhibition.