LEICESTER’S New Walk Museum and Art Gallery is celebrating the completion of a major project that aims to open up its world-renowned German Expressionist collection to a much wider audience of people. Thanks to support from Arts Council England, the city council’s curators have been able to study and develop the collection of around 500 artworks, and to revolutionise the way people can view it. They have been able to create a stunning new gallery to display the collection, using digital technology to interpret and express the key ideas behind the powerful 20th century art movement. A new website will give people across the world access to images of the entire collection for the first time, as well as supporting information including films with a range of experts.
The collection, which started in 1944 amidst the darkness of war with paintings saved from destruction in Nazi Germany, now numbers over 350 artworks, the first and largest of its kind in the UK. it features works by Marc, Kandinsky, Munter, Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff, Kirchner, Kollwitz, Dix, Feininger and Grosz. The initial collection began with paintings acquired from a ground breaking exhibition, ‘Mid-European Art’, which took place at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery in 1944.
Inspired by the Expressionist idea of mixing art forms to create a ‘total artwork’, the gallery is also a performance space which will be used for everything from story-telling to dance, and will open with the first public performance of a contemporary dance by choreographer Matthias Sperling on October 3. Leicester is also celebrating being able to offer visitors the unique opportunity to view the work of Georg Baselitz, one of Germany’s most significant living painters, who was influenced by, and reacted to the Expressionist movement. Running in Leicester until January 2015, the exhibition includes two key works from the ARTIST ROOMS collection, exhibited for the first time since they were gifted to Tate England and the National Galleries of Scotland by Anthony d’Offay in 2008. Leicester’s City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby will officially launch the Baselitz exhibition, and the new gallery, at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery on 2 October.
Sir Peter said: “Leicester’s collection of German Expressionist art is already internationally renowned, but the new gallery and the presentation of the collection online for the first time will open up the artworks to a whole new audience. “I am delighted that we are also able to show the work of George Baselitz here in Leicester, and I hope that many people will take the opportunity to come here and view his work, and to enjoy the rest of Leicester’s rich and varied cultural offer.”
ARTIST ROOMS is an inspirational collection of modern and contemporary art acquired for the nation by Tate and The National Galleries of Scotland through the generosity of Anthony d’Offay with additional support from funders, including the Art Fund.