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I, Lovis Corinth. The self-portraits
19 November 2004 – 6 February 2005


The East Prussia-born Lovis Corinth (1858–1925), along with
Max Liebermann, was one of the outstanding artists whose painting paved the way for modernism in Germany. His hedonistic nudes, his still lifes and landscapes signal a crucial turning point in the development of German painting. Rooted in nineteenth-century realism, Corinth evolved his painting over four decades to achieve a degree of autonomy that sets him apart from traditional forms of representation. Especially in his late period, starting in 1912 following a stroke, his painting underwent a process of formal disintegration in which the depicted motif became progressively abstracted and emotionally charged through his physical application of paint.

Barely another artist of his time was quite so preoccupied with self-portraiture in painting and drawing as Lovis Corinth. It is precisely in this examination of himself that he documented the changes occurring within his art: he charts a journey from a confidently posing artist (frequently accompanied by a female model as his counterpart) to an ailing recluse. These two poles – at the one extreme, the actor Corinth staging himself with theatrical pathos; at the other, the fragility of the surface, introspective self-observation, the states of mind this reveals, and the dissolution of the self, including death as an integral part of the self – testify to Corinth’s personality with an artistic intensity rarely encountered elsewhere.

The self-portraits in Corinth’s oeuvre have previously been shown in major retrospectives. But a comprehensive exhibition focusing solely on this aspect of his work has (surprisingly) never been held. Besides numerous watercolours, drawings and prints, the exhibition will include some 30 of his altogether 42 painted self-portraits. With this exhibition, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is continuing the successful series of exhibitions which showed (among others) self-portraits by Max Beckmann (in 1993) and those by Vincent van Gogh from his Paris period (1995).

Exhibition curator: Dr Ulrich Luckhardt

Lovis Corinth (1858 – 1925) Selbstbildnis vor Staffelei, 1922




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