Masterpieces of Modernism. The Haubrich Collection at Museum Ludwig

Au­gust 04, 2012 - Au­gust 30, 2013

For the ci­t­izens of Cologne it was like the tid­ings of a bet­ter world when in 1946, Josef Haubrich en­trust­ed his trea­sures to the ci­ty. A world of art that ev­ery­one had thought was lost; but now it toured in tri­umph round Ger­many and Eu­rope in a trav­elling ex­hi­bi­tion. To­day the col­lec­tion is in the keep­ing of Mu­se­um Lud­wig. It is con­sid­ered one of the great­est in Eu­rope for Ex­pres­sion­ism, but it al­so ex­tends to the New So­bri­e­ty and other cur­rents in Clas­sic Mod­er­nism.

Haubrich (1889–1961) was a lawy­er and a prop­er Cologne “char­ac­ter”, gre­gari­ous and gener­ous in equal part. And he had some­thing that not ev­ery­one pos­sessed in the Third Reich: courage. The col­lec­tion mir­rors his per­so­n­al­i­ty, and his love of life and the new. Al­ready dur­ing the First World war he be­gan to col­lect works by con­tem­po­rary artists, above all from Ger­many, in­clud­ing such pièces de ré­sis­tance as Ot­to Dix’s Por­trait of Doc­tor Hans Koch, the very first mod­er­nist paint­ing to en­ter the col­lec­tion, or Dream­ers by Emil Nolde, and the cele­brat­ed Half-Length Nude with Hat by Ernst Lud­wig Kirch­n­er, which was ex­hibit­ed as ear­ly as 1925 at the Venice Bien­nale and is now a shin­ing ex­am­ple of the col­lec­tion. Among the other mas­ter­pie­ces are works by Marc Cha­gall, Karl Hofer, Hein­rich Ho­er­le, Wil­helm Lehm­bruck and Pau­la Mod­er­sohn-Beck­er. Wa­ter­colours form here the ba­sic stock and oils the sub­s­tance, while sculp­tures are in the mi­nor­i­ty. Haubrich was loathe to cross the boundary to ab­s­trac­tion, and avoid­ed Con­struc­tivism and the Blue Rid­er, just as he did Da­da and the Novem­ber Group. Not un­til 1946 - when the col­lec­tion was fur­ther ex­pand­ed in con­sul­ta­tion with the di­rec­tor at that time of the Wall­raf-Richarz Mu­se­um, Dr. Leopold Rei­de­meis­ter - were works by the Blue Rid­er, Bauhaus and Cu­bism in­clud­ed.

Start­ing Au­gust 4, the col­lec­tion can once again be mar­velled at in its orig­i­nal con­stel­la­tion. While pre­par­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion and the ca­t­a­logue, the paint­ed rear sides of three works were re-dis­cov­ered, two of which - Ernst-Lud­wig Kirch­n­er’s Fränzi in Wie­sen and Alex­ej von Jawlen­sky’s Vari­a­tion – have nev­er been shown. The new pre­sen­ta­tion will high­light th­ese twin-sid­ed paint­ings.

An ex­ten­sive ca­t­a­logue – the first publi­ca­tion since 1959 on the paint­ings and sculp­tures in the Haubrich Col­lec­tion – brings to­gether the best from the hold­ings, along with new pho­to­graphs and as­tute es­says, care­ful­ly gleaned in­for­ma­tion on the col­lec­tion’s ori­gins, and the cur­rent state of the re­search in­to the prove­nances. With the help of a spe­cial­ly-cre­at­ed po­si­tion for prove­nance re­search, it is now pos­si­ble to show the of­ten cir­cui­tous routes by which the over 140 works came to be in the Mu­se­um Lud­wig. Hats off to a man whom Cologne, a ci­ty of art, has much to thank.

Ex­hi­bi­tion Cu­ra­tors: Dr. Ju­lia Frie­drich to­gether with Dorothee Gra­fahrend-Goh­mert