Gerhard Marcks, Woodcuts from the Fine Arts Collection

Curated by Aaron Zauner ‘14 and Hans Becklin ‘14
April 7-May 25, 2014
Preus Library

Gerhard Marcks

This show, curated by Aaron Zauner ‘14 and Hans Becklin ‘14, consists of fifteen of the finest prints in Luther College’s Fine Arts Collection. Due to their fragility and value they are seldom on public display. They are but a small part of a substantial collection of Marcks’ works given to Luther by one of his students, the late German-American sculptor Marguerite Wildenhain. Her generosity combined with that of other donors has given Luther the largest collection of Marcks’ works in North America. Luther’s collection of his sculptures is on permanent display in Luther’s Preus Library, as well as a large-scale sculpture Oedipus and Antigone that is on display outside of the Center for Faith and Life. All of the works comprised in this show are a part of the Wildenhain collection. These works were acquired as a result of Marcks and Wildenhain’s close friendship.

Gerhard Marcks (1889-1981) was a prominent German visual artist best known for his work with the Bauhaus School, where he taught from 1919 until 1925. Although the Bauhaus’ “form master,” specializing in three-dimensional production, he produced some woodcuts during that time, which share stylistic similarities with the works of other Bauhaus artists—Paul Klee, especially. An excellent example of this is Der Vogelschutze (The Birdhunter), 1921, LFAC #456, immediately following the translation of Schlangenbiss. Instead of the more expressive moving lines and spatial consciousness of that work, Der Vogelschutze has a strong linearity and simple, constructed forms presented without depth. The difference between these works shows Marcks’ development as an artist from a form-concerned idealist in the 1920s to a more nuanced understanding of how woodcuts could speak to life’s experiences. These experiences—the death of his son in World War II and the destruction and reconstruction of Germany—colored his work from the 1940s until his death.