Back to Paradise – Expressionist Masterpieces

By on January 13, 2019

The industrialization of the 1800s meant that European cities grew. Social mobility became larger and technological advances contributed to a higher rate of living. There were tensions between and within the social classes, and in response to a desire for alternative social models, various reform movements arose, often international. The younger generation rebelled and paved the way to freedom. Many artists freed themselves from the academic traditions in the early 1900s and began to express the spirit of the time.

As a result of the society upheavals, the artists sought new ways of lifestyles. The faster the changes were, the stronger was the desire for a new paradise, which the artists seemed to find in nature and in foreign cultures.

The artist group Die Brücke (Bron), which included some of the participating artists, was formed in Dresden in the early summer of 1905 and became the start of a change of German art. With their new and emotional painting, they not only wanted to provoke the bourgeois taste but also to re-evaluate the accepted concept of beauty. In Munich, the artist group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) also appeared. These artists also blasted the boundaries of painting and the imagination, and with the help of new theoretical principles, they began to re-evaluate the “primitive” art.

All the artists in the exhibition Back to Paradise later became classified as degenerate (entartete) by the Nazi regime in Germany.

Millesgården’s author, Carl Milles, himself inspired by the classical art from Italy and Greece, was a long-standing opponent of modern art.

He visited Munich in 1937 and saw the two notorious art exhibitions, one with art permissible and one with degenerate and seized art, Entartete kunst. After the visit, he writes to his wife Olga that he has seen both exhibitions and that his heart is delighted when he sees what the regime has forbidden.

That is why the exhibition is important to show at Millesgården. It shows how society’s attitude towards art changes. Something that today is perhaps more important than ever to remember.

Helena Olofsson, Culture & Music | Lidingö