The Center’s work refers to the Community Foundation for Persecuted Arts – Else Lasker-Schüler Center – Gerhard Schneider Art Collection („Bürgerstiftung für verfolgte Künste – Else Lasker-Schüler-Zentrum – Kunstsammlung Gerhard Schneider“). The focal points of the collection are visual and literary works reflecting the political and social events between 1914 and 1989.
Discovered Modernism – The Art Collection
The majority of the Community Foundation’s art work comes from the collection of Dr. Gerhard Schneider. The collection’s overall theme is the development of art in Germany from 1910 to 1933 and during the Nazi’s reign over Germany from 1933 to 1945.
The collector has a particular interest in the biographies of the artists because of the difficulties they faced. The permanent exhibition displays a variety of styles and budding potential of the German artists of the early decades of the last century, rediscovering those who have been all but forgotten. After the Second World War, the younger generations of modern art were neglected and nearly forgotten. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that the art started to resurface. Dr. Schneider’s collection, presented in Solingen is attracting much international attention because of its unique qualities.
The collector gathered about 3,000 documents of artistic imagery on current events of the 20th century, reflecting upon: the outbreak of World War I on the subsequent revolution, the social tensions of the Nazi regime in 1920’s and 1930’s focusing on experiences of persecuted artists, the horrors of World War II, the consequences the division of Germany and art’s role in the GDR.
The three works published from the collection in 1999, provide a wealth of knowledge of previously lost artworks. Jacques Schuster already conceded the first band “Outlawed – Forgotten – Rediscovered” the “character of a reference work”. Previous exhibitions were well received by the public, showing a realization of “lost treasures” and a great desire to reassess the artistic achievements of the “lost generation”. The literary scholar Prof. John M. Spalek, from Albany, United States, was among the visitors. In a New York Symposium featuring German art of the 20th century, he reported his impressions and paid tribute to the first catalog as the “most comprehensive, independent contribution of German art history on the subject of Nazism oppression of the younger generation of artists of classical modernism”.
Dr. Christina Weiss, former State Minister for culture and media, described Solingen Art Museum’s collection as “undeniably valuable cultural politics”. The Director of the National Gallery Moritzburg in Halle, the Museum Director A.D. Prof. Dr. Heinz Spielmann and Dr. Fritz Jacobi, formerly Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, stated that no institution is comparable to the degenerate German art collection of Gerhard Schneider.
Catalogs (excerpt, german):
Gerhard Schneider, Rasmus Kleine (Hrsg.): “entartete” kunst. Verfolgung der Moderne im NS-Staat dargestellt mit Werken aus der Sammlung Gerhard Schneider. Kettler Verlag 2016. 29 €
Rolf Jessewitsch, Gerhard Schneider (Hrsg.): Entdeckte Moderne. Werke aus der Sammlung Gerhard Schneider. Kettler Verlag 2008. 39 €
Heaven and Hell between 1918 and 1989
The Literature Collection of Jürgen Serke
Serke sagt was er so sagt so normal und das es ein Schmerz für mich ist … wie ich mich andauernd einzuchecken versuche in seine Ansprache da schonungslos gegen sich selbst … bin ein meschuggener Vogel im zweifellosen Zustand zu seinem Text
Sarah Kirsch, 1994
With his book „Die verbrannten Dichter“ (1977) Jürgen Serke initiated in the Federal Republic of Germany, the rediscovery of those authors whose works were burned in Berlin in 1933 by the Nazis. His book title broadly encompassed much of the literature that was lost. The book „Die verbannten Dichter. Berichte und Bilder einer neuen Vertreibung“(1982) presented the poets’ opposition to the communist totalitarianism and gave hope to exiled authors to take root and begin again. In the book „Böhmische Dörfer. Wanderungen durch eine verlassene literarische Landschaft“ (1987) he presented the German literature of Czechoslovakia (which was destroyed by the Nazis and then by communism) and returned it back into the Czech history.
In 2007, the Foundation acquired the Else Lasker-Schüler Society literature collection of media. It consists of more than 2,500 works: books, documents, handwritten letters, printed texts and photos. Since 2008, the Solingen Art Museum, now the Center for Persecuted Arts, owns a collection of literature entitled „Himmel und Hölle zwischen 1918 und 1989. Die verbrannten Dichter“ which are presented in permanent and special exhibitions. In 2008, German newspapers reported: With the existing art collection and the collection of literature, the art museum is the Center of Persecuted Arts.
Jürgen Serke was born in 1938 in Landsberg an der Warthe, he worked for UPI in Frankfurt from 1961-1969, and reported 1967/68 from Czechoslovakia on the Prague Spring. From 1970 to 1983 Serke worked as an author at STAR, from 1984 to 1989 he worked for the “Weltwoche” Zurich, and from 1990 to 1992 he worked with the “world”. Serke’s journalistim was central to resistance of to the two totalitarianisms of the 20th century.
Serke is a trustee of the Else-Lasker-Schüler Society in Wuppertal. In 1992, with the support of Hajo Jahn, chairman of the Else-Lasker-Schüler Society, Serke organized poetry readings in asylum centers. Sarah Kirsch, Wolf Biermann, Herta Müller, Rainer Kunze, Hans Joachim Harmful, Günther Grass, Peter Schneider, Sten Nadolny, among others, were involved in the center. The Action joined the SPD, CDU, the Greens foundations, as well as the Booksellers Association of the German book trade and the initiative against violence and xenophobia.