On November 8, Dagmar Jaeger’s 21G.409 Visual Arts, Media, Creative Expression visited the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University, the only museum in the US which is solely devoted to art from German-speaking countries.
Jaeger’s advanced class, taught in German, employs various art forms, including photography and art, plays and poetry, through which students further their spoken and written German language skills and gain a deeper understanding of the varieties and forms of cultural productions of the past and present. To study Modernism and German Expressionism and experience art works first-hand, the group visited Busch Reisinger.
After arrival, the class got a brief introduction from their instructor about the history of the museum and its connection to the German Department at Harvard.
To study form, shape, composition and theme, every student received a clipboard with a print of only half of a painting on it. Students located the ‘other half’ of that painting in the exhibition and paid attention to every detail by drawing the missing part, and in this way completing their painting. The group then talked about their drawings and about their thoughts on the painting’s themes and the ways they drew the image. Students went on to view a photo collage by Hannah Höch as well as paintings of the German Expressionism period by artists Paula Modersohn-Becker, Max Beckmann, and Erich Heckel.
The group then viewed Emil Nolde’s “Mulatto”, a term which is no longer used in German. A passionate supporter of the Nazi Party, Nolde’s art works were at the same time groundbreaking in European modernist art. The class talked about Nolde’s political as well as artistic views, with particular attention to the depiction of race through an Eurocentric view.
To conclude the visit, students paired up and looked around to find connections between two works of art. For example, students compared the motif of Franz Marc’s “Grazing Horse” to another painting and found similarities in brush stroke and style in two portraits by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.