The collection of the Kunsthalle in Emden in Northern Germany is intrinsically associated with the names of Mr. Henri Nannen (1913-1990) and his wife Eske (born 1942). The Nannen’s collection of classical modern art forms the main focus of the exhibition, while a group of contemporary art from 1945 onwards, donated by the Munich gallery owner Otto van de Loo, provides a second nucleus.
Expressionsm and Realism
In Germany, Mr. Nannen is best known as the founder of the influential and widely read Stern magazine, of which he was the long-time editor-in-chief (from 1949 to 1980). His passion for collecting started early on, during his enrolment as an art history student in Munich from 1934 to 1938. After acquiring a print by Nolde in these early years, he not only laid the foundations for his future collection, but he also defined its main emphasis. From then on he was fascinated by works from the Expressionist artists groups of the “Brücke” and “Blauer Reiter”. Another core area of the collection comprises works of the “Neue Sachlichkeit” (new functionalism) from the 1920s. In addition to the unique group of seven works by Hanns Ludwig Katz (1892-1940) – his secured oeuvre numbers only 25 paintings – there are works by acclaimed verists such as George Grosz (1893-1959) and Otto Dix (1891-1969). Other forms of Realism are to be found in works by artists such as Georg Kolbe (1877-1947), Josef Scharl (1896-1954) and Franz Radziwill (1891-1969), as well as in a large block of Russian painting, which the collector discovered during the time preceding and following the fall of the Iron Curtain.
In 1990, Otto van de Loo showed his exhibition “In the Beginning was the Image” in Emden. Some of the works then shown, were permanently installed there when Mr. van de Loo generously donated over 200 works in the year 2000. The new collection tended towards an expressively escalated language of form, and provided a welcome addition and appropriate sequel to the original collection with its focus on expressionism. Thus the great representatives of the “informal”, together with works by artists from the “COBRA” and “Spur” groups, found their way into the museum. The unique character and excellent quality of this collection opened new avenues, substantially enriching the identity of the establishment and enhancing its attraction.
In 2007 for the first time in Munich, the Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung presented this intensely personal collection from the far north of Germany with over one hundred paintings, sculptures and works on paper.