Breaks – Still on the Way to Modernity

Pioneer of Modern Art – the English translation doesn’t catch the ambiguity of the German title of the exhibition of the work of Max Liebermann to which I went during the lunch break: Wegbereiter der Moderne. It could also be translated just as Pioneer, trailblazer of modernity, emphasising that he had been a pioneer not just as somebody who did something before others did the same, but underlining his proactive role, the ‘fight for something’. And it doesn’t limit the something to arts but leaves it open for a much wider scope.

I do not want and cannot engage in Max Liebermann’s complex and contradictory personality: citoyen and demotic; orderly, like the lanes in the part of his villa and allowing, provoking and even planning the impressionistic as seen in the flowerbeds on the roadside of the little palace ….

Surely as such – as other representatives especially of the citoyenitée of the time (see Thomas and Heinrich Mann, read the Buddenbrooks, The Small Town Tyrant, The Forsyte Saga ….) – reflecting very much the contradiction of the time.

One thing is sure: in life and in general there is surely not one pioneer – it is people as groups, peoples and personalities …

…. and it is about movements, ‘inventions of acceptance’. Entering the exhibition had been already exciting by looking at the plain pictures of life – ‘socialist realism’ came to my mind. Looking at his depiction of the twelve year old Jesus in the Temple – emerging as another simple life: simplicity of deification without simplifying the apotheosis; and then looking at her, looking into her face: Eva. It is a painting from 1882. And the way she looks says it all: No need, Adam. Not for you. And though I my not look like it. I have the apple, I eat the apple and I enjoy eating it.

Giving the impression of weakness and happiness, of inferiority and forcefulness … – modernity.


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