Taking Positions: Figurative Sculpture and the Third Reich

26 May – 26 August 2001

Exhibition in Galleries 1, 2 and 3

Encompassing sculptors whose careers flourished during the Third Reich as well as those who effectively made their work in isolation, this exhibtions represents a cross-section of those who stayed in Germany and found a way to continuing practising art - even if sometimes in 'inner exile'.

Early 20th century German sculpture is little seen in Britain. The few exhibitions devoted to the topic have generally only shown the art judged to be 'degenerate' by the Third Reich, with the consequence that we have seen very little of the figurative tradition which represented the means by which most sculptors, before and during the Third Reich, practised their art.

The theme of the exhibition is that the figure - the single male or female nude, standing or sitting - was the vehicle by which sculptors, more or less explicitly, expressed their political position.

The fact that this tradition - the single bronze figure - was largely brought into question in the post-war era is closely connected to its previous association with political propaganda. This means that we have not only lost our familiarity with its nuanced shades of meaning, but have also felt a moral imperative to turn away from it. Taking Positions proposes the need to look at this art, across its shades of meaning, so as to understand difference.

The make-up of the exhibition is simple. Its chronological span (1918-1948) represents the years from the end of one world war until shortly after the next, but it concentrates on the period after 1933. It is by no means a survey, but rather sets up three groups of figures for the purposes of comparison. These groups are premised on symbolism and narrative, classicism and modernity, movement and scale.

Taking Positions is presented in association with Gerhard Marcks Haus, Bremen and the Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin, where the exhibition travels after Leeds.

Audio recordings of the talks 'Arno Breker : a German paradigm' by Frank Whitford and 'Jacob Epstein gives birth to British sculpture!' by Anne Wagner are available in the Henry Moore Institute Research Library.

Venue details

26 May - 26 August 2001

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Friday, 10am - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment

7 October 2001 - 6 January 2002

Venue address

Georg Kolbe Museum
Sensburger Allee 25
T: +49 (0)30 3042144
Visit website

Opening times

Monday: Closed
Tuesday to Sunday: 10am - 6pm

20 January - 14 April 2002

Venue address

Am Wall 208
T: +49 421 98 97 52 0
Visit website

Opening times

Monday: Closed
Tuesday to Sunday: 10am - 6pm
Thursday: 10am - 9pm

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