Arts & Culture

Lake Grunewald

Walter Leistikow1895

Alte Nationalgalerie, National Museums in Berlin
Alte Nationalgalerie, National Museums in Berlin

“It is Leistikow’s lasting achievement — and will always remain so — that he found a style that can express the melancholy charm of the surroundings of Berlin. We see the Grunewald lakes and those on the upper Spree through his eyes; he has taught us to see their beauty,” said Max Liebermann in a memorial speech honoring his friend. For ten years they had led the Berlin Secession together, which was founded after Lake Grunewald had been rejected by the “Great Berlin Art Exhibition” of 1898. This is the most successful of many works with similar themes. Its clear, expansive composition with the dark, shadowy shape of the woods against the orange-yellow of the evening sky, repeated in the water, lends this work the stature of a great landscape in its own right. Its unusual angle and expressive linearity show the influence of the Japanese woodcuts Leistikow had admired during his stay in Paris in 1893. The clear contours of the forms and the stark contrasts are reminiscent of Munch’s work, whose “bold colour-symphonies” Leisti-kow had defended in late 1892 in the journal Freie Bühne (Free Stage) immediately after the exhibition scandal that had greeted the former’s work. Leistikow’s Lake Grunewald shows the artist at his best. He avoids the decorative simplification of some of his works and goes far beyond merely illustrating a topographically identifiable location.

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  • Title: Lake Grunewald
  • Creator: Walter Leistikow
  • Date Created: 1895
  • Viewing Notes: Walter Leistikow was a German painter and graphic artist. He came to Berlin in 1883 where he took part in the salon. He was one of the founders of the artists’ group Vereinigung der XI, or ‘Union of XI’ in 1892, as well as a supporter of the Berlin Secession, an alternative to the conservative, state supported Association of Berlin Artists. His artworks were widely critiziced in his lifetime, with his painting Grunewaldsee (1895) being rejected by the jury of a major art exhibition in 1898. Knowing his syphilis could not be cured, Leistikow shot himself in July of 1908. Leistikow is known for works, such as his portrait of Lovis Corinth (1893) and 'Märkischer See bei Sonnenuntergang' (1895).
  • Style: Secession
  • Provenance: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Physical Dimensions: w252.0 x h167.0 cm
  • Original Title: Grunewaldsee
  • Credit Line: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Angelika Wesenberg Photo: �� b p k - Photo Agency / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jürgen Liepe
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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