Consider the appropriateness of the German Expressionist prints on view this autumn at Vassar College's always au courant teaching collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. Created between two wars of devastating consequence, during a decadent time when fears of crazy economics drove odd spending splurges and disastrous political decisions, this diverse body of work coalesced around a collective need to cut the b.s., right the wrongs and get back on a goodly course.
Be it Wassily Kandinsky's non-representational experiments or Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's haunted streetscapes, or the cartoon-like takes on the dark sides of mankind rising to the forefront from the likes of George Grosz, Max Beckmann, and Käthe Kollwitz, there's a timeless urgency to what was created. Even when stripped down to the elemental forces of woodcuts, lithographs, and etchings, the colorful aspects of this art's immediacy come through, be it through the rendering of brittle lines into copper, the gouging of bold shapes into wood, or the drawing of quick marks onto plate or stone, as the current show's curators at the Syracuse University Art Collection have noted.
"They responded in their styles and subjects to a new, fast-paced, and increasingly materialistic age," runs the tagline.
"Impassioned Images: German Expressionist Prints" presents its 50 images in the Loeb Center's Prints and Drawings Galleries through October 26, and has been augmented by an upcoming series of outdoor film screenings on Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. on the Campus Lawn by the Arts Center.
The six remaining works, all German masterpieces of the 1920s and 1930s, include Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920, Robert Wiene) on September 4; Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922, F. W. Murnau) on September 11; Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (1922, Fritz Lang) on September 18; Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh, 1924, F. W. Murnau) on September 25; M (1931, Fritz Lang) on October 9; and Das Testament de Dr. Mabuse (1933, Fritz Lang) on October 16.
During inclement weather, the screenings will take place in Taylor Hall, room 203.
In addition, on Thursday, October 2, at 7 p.m., the atrium and galleries of the Art Center will be turned into a Berlin-inspired cabaret featuring songs of decadence, exile, corruption, revolution, crime, and experiment with bass-baritone Robert Osborne, adjunct artist in music at Vassar, and pianist Richard Gordon.
"Late Night at the Lehman Loeb," on the participating Thursdays, extends the museum's hours every until 9 p.m., for the public to tour the galleries, attend special performances, and enjoy refreshments.
Talk about getting in the mood for, well... how about a November election.
Admission to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is free. The Art Center is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday. 1 p.m.-5 p.m. For more information, the public may call 845 437-5632 or visit fllac.vassar.edu.