Gauguin, van Gogh to Dalí

Folkwang: The First Museum of Modern Art

10 September 200423 January 2005

The first museum of modern art

In 1902, Karl Ernst Osthaus founded a museum in Hagen for his collection of modern art. In the middle of an industrial area, he opened a place which he named ‘programatic Folkwang’, i. e. the people’s hall, which has been based in Essen since 1922. At the same time as Tschudi in Berlin and Munich or Kessler in Weimar,Osthaus developed a taste independent of the Wilhelminian zeitgeist. From the turn of the century onwards, he collected pictures by Renoir, Monet, Gauguin and van Gogh, who were to a great extent unknown and as French artists were frowned upon in Germany at this time. He also brought objects from non-European cultures back home from his travels. This first museum of modern art gave the German avant-garde an important impetus. The exhibition in the Kunsthalle presented a substantial part of this sensational collection in southern Germany. Starting with French Impressionism to Cubism and Fauvism, one was able to realise the influence on Expressionism as well as on Abstraction and Surrealism.

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