The Sprengel Museum Hannover’s Collection of Works on Paper

Sprengel Museum HannoverSprengel Museum Hannover
The Sprengel Museum Hannover collects not only paintings, sculpture and other objects made by artists, it also, like most other museums, has a considerable amount of works on paper. What was once referred to as the museum’s “Graphisches Kabinett“ and was often perceived as a secondary priority in terms of a museum’s collecting activities – namely a place where works of art are stored in drawers to protect them from contact with light which could result in damage -  has here developed into a substantial collection in its own right. These works of art are displayed in a space that was designed expressly for this purpose; not only is the light carefully controlled to reduce damage, but the temperature is also separately controlled in this part of the museum to guarantee the ideal amount of humidity and temperature for works on paper.

The category loosely referred to as art works on paper encompasses original watercolours, gouaches, drawings and collages as well as printed works such as lithographs, etchings, wood cuts and screen-prints. These works are not, as some people believe, merely by-products in the artistic process or sketches for oil paintings or sculptures (although this does apply to a few cases). Each has its own unique character, aura and expressiveness originating in characteristics of the medium itself. When one thinks of, for instance, the use of transparency and lightness inherent in Emil Nolde’s application of watercolour or Kurt Schwitters’ provocative yet harmonious collages, it becomes apparent how unique they were and that the effect each of these works has depends largely on the technique used to realise them.

A significant number of works on paper in the rich collection here were chosen by Dr Bernhard Sprengel. He assembled an abundance of works by a number of individuals, so making it possible to offer a comprehensive presentation of their artistic careers. Hence, the collection of works on paper, organised by focal points, has inspired other collectors, and indeed artists, to contribute additional works to ensure that the collection retains its character while continuing to prosper and expand in scope.

In the past, the Sprengel Museum Hannover has presented various subject matter, or works by specific artists, groups or periods from this part of the collection, and these exhibitions are well documented in the catalogues that accompanied each show. This made it possible to focus on works by artists, such as Horst Antes, Max Beckmann, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, Pablo Picasso and C.F. Reuterswärd in the museum’s collection as well as artists’ groups, including the “Brücke“ and the "Blauer Reiter", to form comprehensive and large-scale exhibitions. Exhibitions have also been devoted to works by those artists who are less well represented in the museum’s collection but about who, nonetheless, a great deal can be learned from the pieces exhibited at the Sprengel Museum Hannover. These include works by the likes of Lyonel Feininger, Joan Miró, T. A. Steinlen, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Käthe Kollwitz and Ernst Barlach.

Additional exhibitions presenting works of art in the museum’s collection complement what has already been shown in this series of shows and, at the same time, make the public aware of what treasures lie in the museum’s collection. Special attention has been drawn, for example, to works by Kurt Schwitters, Henri Laurens and El Lissitzky. In that vein, due to the considerable number of works by these artists on permanent loan to the Sprengel Museum Hannover, an exhibition was devoted to Robert Michel and Ella Bergmann-Michel’s works.

For further information:
Dr. Karin Orchard

Inventory of the Collection of Works on Paper:

Icon für Dokument Zeichnung [PDF] (.pdf, 416 KB)
Icon für Dokument Druckgrafik [PDF] (.pdf, 862 KB)

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Sprengel Museum Hannover
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Sprengel Museum Hannover
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