Max Liebermann – Horseback Riding, Tennis, Polo
22 Oct 2016 to 26 Feb 2017 Kunsthalle Bremen
Sport permeates virtually all areas of our lives today. It is part of modern lifestyle, a popular spectacle for the masses and even an expression of social status. Max Liebermann was the first German artist to shine a spotlight on this subject. The exhibition explores Liebermann’s impressions of exercise and sport, and also tells the history of horse riding, tennis and polo in art.
Paintings and prints by Degas, Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec illustrate the French source of Liebermann’s inspiration. No one else in Germany or France portrayed tennis players and polo players quite like Liebermann did. The unique quality of his works becomes apparent when viewed alongside the selected works by his contemporaries Lavery and Slevogt and others from England and Germany. Liebermann’s scenes of horse riding, tennis and polo were primarily produced in the period between 1900 and 1914. These works convey an image of the Wilhelminian bourgeoisie, whose leisure activities emulated those of the English sporting gent.
In the late 19th century, Liebermann focused on depicting summer scenes of visitors to the North Sea coast. He began by painting bathers and horse riders, before turning his attention to modern sports such as polo, tennis and horse racing, which had been popular in England for some time. After the First World War, sporting scenes faded into the background of Liebermann’s work. During the 1920s younger artists began exploring sport as a motif, particularly sports that were popular with the masses, such as football and boxing. The boxing scenes depicted by Georges Grosz, Renée Sintenis and Rudolf Grossmann reflect this shift in popularity from the sophisticated lawn sports of the countryside to the physical sports played in the towns and cities.
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