03. March - 04. May 2018 Kunsthaus Stade


Ernst Oppler, Anna Pawlowa in Sterbender Schwan, 1917 © Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln
Ernst Oppler, Illustration für Einladung Secessionsball, 1926 © Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln
Ernst Oppler, Les Sylphides (Hinter den Kulissen), um 1915 © Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln
Ernst Oppler, W. Nijinsky als maskierter Harlekin in Le Carnaval, um 1922 © Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln

The Berlin Secession and the Russian Ballet

The graphics and paintings of Ernst Oppeler are a significant discovery in the art of the early 20th century. Apart from portraits and interieurs, the impressionist also portrayed the social life of his time and was as artist and art collector affiliated with these circles. The great motivic variety of Oppelers’ works is among others reflected by plein-air paintings, sports scenes or observations of wartime existence.

For the first time in northern Germany, the Kunsthaus Stade presents a comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s drawings and paintings on the subject of the dance. The Museum presents more than 160 works including sketches, graphic reproduction and paintings.

An exclusive performance of the Russian Ballet, presented to the members of the Berlin Secession on Mai 5, 1909, cause Ernst Oppler great enthusiasm: he became a convinced ballet enthusiast and “ballet painter”.

He did not portray the dancers resting (“au repos”) or posing in his studio, but he portrayed them during the rehearsals and performances on stage. For this purpose, he invented himself an illuminated pen that enabled him to draw in the dark auditorium. It is especially these sketches that show ballet and dance in the authenticity of the movement.

Ernst Oppler’s special attention to Anna Pawlowa is abundantly obvious in his oeuvre: No other dancer has inspired him more for his sketches, etchings and paintings. Since her performance in Berlin in 1909, Oppler has sketched her dancing over and over again and has created innumerable portraits of her.

In particular, her most famous solo dance, the dying swan, is eternalized in a large number of works. Among the male dancers of the Ballets Russes, Adolph Bolm and Waslaw Nijinsky fascinated Ernst Oppler the most. Nijinsky’s jumping power and technique made him to the most undoubted male celebrity of the ballet company. Ernst Oppler sketched, drawed and etched him frequently.

Since 1998, Oppler and Max Liebermann have belonged to the first members of the Berlin Secession that successfully supports modern art movements and the French impressionism.

The exhibition of the Deutsche Tanzarchiv Köln and the SK Stiftung Kultur will take place in the Kunsthaus Stade from March 3 to Mai 1, 2018.

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