Otto Freundlich: Cosmic Communism

18 Feb 2017 – 14 May 2017

Museum Ludwig

Cologne, Germany


Travel Information

  • Dom/Hauptbahnhof

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The Museum Ludwig shows the work of Otto Freundlich (1878-1943).


With around eigh­ty ob­jects, the ex­hi­bi­tion traces the work, thought, and life of an artist who pro­duced not on­ly paint­ings and sculp­tures but al­so stained-glass win­dows and mo­saics, and who in a search­ing re­flec­tion on the lead­ing art move­ments of his time found his own path to ab­s­trac­tion—be­fore be­ing margi­nal­ized by the Nazis, de­nounced as “de­gen­er­ate,” and ul­ti­mate­ly mur­dered as a Jew.

This dis­crim­i­na­tion and erad­i­ca­tion of both Fre­undlich and his work have marked the artist’s re­cep­tion to this day. Many of his works were de­stroyed in Ger­many un­der Na­tio­n­al So­cial­ism. His Großer Kopf (Large Head), which the Nazis re­pro­duced on the cov­er of their guide to the En­tartete Kunst (De­gen­er­ate Art) ex­hi­bi­tion in 1938, re­mains his most fa­mous work even to­day. This ret­ro­spec­tive de­mon­s­trates that the Nazis not on­ly fal­si­fied the ti­tle of the work (they gave it the ti­tle “The New Man” by which it is still known to­day), but even the sculp­ture it­self: at least at one venue on the De­gen­er­ate Art tour­ing ex­hi­bi­tion they pre­sent­ed a crude copy in place of the orig­i­nal.   The Mu­se­um Lud­wig is now pro­vid­ing vis­i­tors a chance to en­coun­ter Fre­undlich’s en­tire oeu­vre and places it at the cen­ter of con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous art-his­tor­i­cal de­vel­op­ments. It be­gins with the heads he drew and sculpt­ed around 1910 and fea­tures his lit­tle-known ap­plied art­works along­side his sculp­tures, paint­ings, and gouach­es. More­over, it of­fers in­sights in­to Fre­undlich’s writ­ings, in which he po­si­tioned his work in its so­cial and artis­tic con­text.  


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