Special exhibition: Ludwig Meidner

Ludwig Meidner - The Expressionist

Ludwig Meidner, "I, battered lump of clay ...", 1917
Ludwig Meidner, "I, battered lump of clay ...", 1917, from: sketchbook 1917, ink, 27,1 x 36,9 cm
photo: Ursula Seitz-Gray, © Ludwig Meidner-Archiv, Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. JMF 1994-0007 IV-02
Special exhibition: Ludwig Meidner

Ludwig Meidner - The Expressionist

I, battered lump of clay, ostracized, apocalyptic, my skull swept by the winter wind

Inscription on the self-portrait from 1917

Ludwig Meidner is now known throughout the world as an expressionist. Based in particular on his "Apocalyptic Landscapes" and his depictions of the metropolis, he is regarded as an important representative of urban Expressionism. However, Meidner was also a significant portraitist, who produced psychologically dense portraits of the protagonists of Berlin's literary and artistic milieu.

Meidner's expressionist works are characterized by often spontaneous, dynamic gestures, which are indicative of a creative process that frequently bordered on ecstatic and could almost be described as a creative frenzy. For this reason his contemporaries regarded him as the epitome of the expressionist artist:

"While the label 'Expressionism' repeatedly seems inadequate and unfounded because, on the one hand, it signifies nothing more than what has always been a criterion of art, and, on the other, it is too narrow and says nothing about, for example, Marc, Lehmbruck, Kokoschka and Klee – i.e., it is unsuitable as an umbrella term for modernism – there is nevertheless one figure among the prominent artists of our day that the very phonetic dynamism of the word compels us to call an ‘expressionist’: Ludwig Meidner. Everything he does is expression, outburst and explosion." (Willi Wolfradt, Ludwig Meidner, in: Das Junge Deutschland, January 1920)

Further reading:
Horcher in die Zeit. Ludwig Meidner im Exil (exhibition catalog Museum Giersch der Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main), München 2016.
Presler, Gerd/Riedel, Erik, Ludwig Meidner. Werkverzeichnis der Skizzenbücher / Catalogue Raisonné of His Sketchbooks, München 2013.
Heuberger, Georg (Hg.), Ludwig und Else Meidner (exhibition catalog Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, Ben Uri Gallery, London), Frankfurt a. M. 2002.
Gerda Breuer and Ines Wagemann: Ludwig Meidner. Zeichner, Maler, Literat. 1884-1966. 2 Bde. (exhibition catalog Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt), Stuttgart 1991.
Thomas Grochowiak: Ludwig Meidner, Recklinghausen 1966.