"The sentence that a well-painted turnip is better than a badly painted Madonna has become a permanent feature of modern aesthetics. But the sentence is wrong; it must read: A well-painted turnip is just as good as a well-painted Madonna." This quote by Max Liebermann (1916) marks the point of departure for an exhibition at Lenbachhaus that explores what and, more importantly, how the artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries painted. The presentation probes the question what constitutes "good painting" and examines the idea of the painterly from a variety of angles.
Aspects to be addressed include the pace of painting, beginner's luck, questions of attribution, bans on colors, and the quest for pure painting: Lovis Corinth, for example, created an enormous bouquet of flowers, a birthday gift for his wife, in a mere three days. When Franz von Stuck started experimenting with oil paints and the picture turned out well, he proudly labeled it "my first oil painting" right on the canvas, a pat on the back for himself as well as a message for posterity. A rapidly yet brilliantly painted unsigned portrait of a woman might be by Wilhelm Busch or by Franz von Lenbach, as both painted in very similar styles in the early stages of their careers. One would think that landscape painters were especially partial to the color "green," but oddly enough, pure green, straight from the tube, was derided as "spinach." Wilhelm Leibl, last but not least, cared only for the "how," not the "what"; his search for the "essence of painting" inspired his colleague Carl Schuch to make a radically simplified still life with leeks.
Curated by Karin Althaus
We would like to thank our lenders for their generous and dependable support:
Christoph Heilmann Stiftung
Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung
Doerner Institut der Bayerischen Staatsgemäldesammlungen