Anita Rée

A Retrospective
Anita Rée (1885–1933): Selbstbildnis, 1930, Öl auf Leinwand, 66 x 60,8 cm © Hamburger Kunsthalle / bpk  Foto: Elke Walford

Press information

In the autumn and winter of 2017/18, the Hamburger Kunsthalle will present the first extensive museum show of the work of the Hamburg-based painter Anita Rée (1885–1933). Featuring some 200 paintings, works on paper and art objects, the retrospective sheds light on an important and multifaceted oeuvre, ranging from Impressionist plein air painting to Mediterranean landscapes to portraits in the spirit of the New Objectivity. The Hamburger Kunsthalle’s rich holdings of works by Rée, comprising 13 paintings and 25 works on paper, will be supplemented by significant pieces from private and public collections in Germany, England, Switzerland and the USA.

Anita Rée took painting lessons from Arthur Siebelist in Hittfeld, did further training in Paris in the winter of 1912/13, and worked from 1922 to 1925 in Positano in southern Italy. After her return to Hamburg, Rée’s many portraits and public commissions brought her nationwide recognition, and she was able to make valuable contacts in the art world. She spent her last years living a reclusive life on the island of Sylt, where she took her own life in 1933.

The retrospective at the Hamburger Kunsthalle invites visitors to discover a great artist. Anita Rée grapples in her art with questions of identity, exploring the relationship of the individual to society and the feeling of belonging in a fast-changing world. As a painter straddling tradition and modernism, an independent woman on the art scene, as a regional artist with international aspirations and someone with South American and Jewish roots brought up in Protestant Hamburg, Rée lived in many senses between different worlds.

The exhibition, funded to a large extent by the Ausstellungsfonds der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg, stems from an interdisciplinary research project involving in-depth art-historical and art-technological studies. Archives in Hamburg, Germany and elsewhere in Europe were systematically searched for traces of Rée’s life and work. With the support of the ZEIT-Stiftung, her artistic methods and the materials she used in her paintings and works on paper were investigated scienti-fically. Thanks to the new insights thus gained, we are now able to appreciate Anita Rée as an active and self-assured artist and not view her merely as a victim of her times, gender or religion.

A richly illustrated catalogue featuring scholarly essays in German and English accompanies the exhibition (Prestel Verlag, Munich), available in the Museum Shop for 29 euros or online at At the end of the exhibition, the Hamburger Kunsthalle will publish a new catalogue raisonné of Anita Rée’s work, compiled in collaboration with the art historian Maike Bruhns and funded by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung.

The programme accompanying the exhibition includes regular public tours (Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 12 noon), special tours by curators and conservators, an event in the series »Kunst im inter-religiösen Dialog« (2 November 2017), a panel discussion on research at the museum (1 February 2018) offered in conjunction with the Freunde der Hamburger Kunsthalle as well as a presentation of the new catalogue raisonné (4 February 2018). The extensive education and outreach programme also offers several activities in cooperation with Hamburg schools. Open tours for people with dementia and their families will also be inaugurated with the Anita Rée exhibition.

A multimedia guide to the show is available in German and English.