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Modern German Prints and Drawings from the Kainen Collection

February 23 – June 29, 2014
West Building, Ground Floor, West Outer Tier Galleries

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Aschaffenburg 1880–1938 Davos, Three Bathers by Stones, 1913, color lithograph, Ruth and Jacob Kainen Collection, 1986

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: In May 2012, the National Gallery of Art received a magnificent bequest of 781 works of art from Ruth Cole Kainen (1922–2009). Born in Arkansas and raised in Oregon, Ruth Cole moved permanently to Washington in the late 1950s, where she became an active patron of the arts. Her bequest—primarily prints, drawings, watercolors, and rare illustrated books—was the culmination of many other donations that she and her husband Jacob Kainen (1909–2001) had given the Gallery over the previous thirty-five years. Her gifts have included works from five centuries representing most major periods and styles of European and American art. This exhibition presents more than one hundred of her finest German drawings, prints, and watercolors.

Ruth Kainen focused on German art from 1910 to 1930. These were the peak years of expressionism, a movement that rejected the academic pursuit of timeless, idealized beauty in favor of creating dynamic art that reflected life and experience in the modern world. Ruth Kainen acquired works by the most important expressionists, with a particular interest in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and others in his circle. She placed these major acquisitions within a broader context by collecting lesser known artists from the German-speaking world, including artists outside the expressionist sphere. And she selected works from preceding and later periods that resonated with the central expressionist themes of human life and passion, and an individual’s relationship to society and to nature.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Sponsor: The exhibition is supported in part by a generous grant from the Thaw Charitable Trust.

Attendance: 59,359

Press Event: Modern German Prints and Drawings from the Kainen Collection
Audio, Released: February 18, 2014, (87:07 minutes)