Consul General Dr. Bernd Fischer Attends Opening of The Human Beast: German Expressionism Exhibition at The San Diego Museum of Art
Enlarge image Consul General Dr. Bernd Fischer views The Human Beast exhibition. (© Bauman Photographers) Consul General Dr. Bernd Fischer attended the opening reception for “The Human Beast: German Expressionism at The San Diego Museum of Art” exhibition on July 19. Accompanying him were Deputy Consul General Stefan Biedermann and Honorary Consul Stephan Hollmann.
During his first visit to San Diego, the newly posted Consul General had the opportunity to preview the exhibition dedicated to the modernist movement that developed in Germany and Austria in the early 20th century. "The Human Beast" showcases the recent bequest of the Vance E. Kondon and Elisabeth Giesberger collection.
Enlarge image The Human Beast - German Expressionism at The San Diego Museum of Art. (© Bauman Photographers) In addition to the 48 German Expressionist paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints acquired from the Kondon-Giesberger estates, the exhibit also features nine oil paintings on loan from the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, Spain and works from the Museum’s permanent collection and private loans. With a total of 84 works on display, the exhibition offers a comprehensive depiction of German Expressionism.
Enlarge image Artwork on display. (© Bauman Photographers) Consul General Dr. Fischer was struck by the quality of art, as well as the strong political message the images conveyed. The artwork depicted Germany suffering under the shock and violence of World War I and on the brink of sliding into political radicalism. Images also showed the liberalism and unconventional experimentation taking place in Berlin during the roaring ‘20s, and captured the human soul in its most primal and raw state - all in a palette of strong vibrant colors.
Enlarge image Curator John Marciari talks about the namesake of the exhibition - an image that shows how war makes beasts out of humans. (© Bauman Photographers) It was this vibrant use of color, and the exploration of themes such as primitivism, raw emotion, the solace of nature, the terror of the First World War and the subsequent social chaos of Weimar Germany, that drew the late San Diego art collector Vance Kondon, who died in 1997, to German expressionism. The exhibition’s title, “The Human Beast,” is actually inspired by the horror and violence Kondon attributed to war, especially in the First World War, and stems from a painting showing a German soldier looking like a beast due to the ravages of battle.
Enlarge image German Honorary Consul Stephan Hollmann, left, and Vance Kondon's grandson, midldle, and daughter, Melissa, right, attend opening. (© Bauman Photographers) Over a span of three decades starting in the ‘60s until the mid ‘80s, Kondon’s collection of expressionist paintings were often on display at the Museum. After marrying Liesbeth Giesberger and moving to Europe, the paintings were thought to be lost forever. But with the December 2011 death of Geisberger, the Museum unexpectedly received the gift of 48 works of pre-1950 art, including paintings by Otto Dix, Gabriele Münter, and Max Pechstein, as well as watercolors and drawings by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Ernst Kirchner, and Emil Nolde. The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art was gifted with 30 works of post-1950 art.
Enlarge image The gala reception for the opening of The Human Beast. (© Bauman Photographers) With “The Human Beast” exhibition, the core of Kondon’s collection is on view for the first time since the last San Diego show in 1984. And almost 30 years later, some of the artwork considered too erotic, offensive or obscene to be shown at that time, is now on display.
The Museum’s director Roxana Velasquez was especially pleased that Kondon’s daughter Melissa was present at the opening to share with guests her memories of the pieces art that were such a large part of her childhood.
Enlarge image Museum Director Roxana Velasquez welcomes guests to "The Human Beast" opening reception. (© Bauman Photographers) Though the pieces will join the Museum’s permanent collection, now until the exhibition closes on November 11, 2012, is not only the perfect opportunity to see the complete Kondon collection (after this show, it will not be shown in its entirety again), but also the chance to get firsthand testimony of a turbulent era in German history.