A 2011 Getty Museum show marked the acquisition of a group of 19th-century German drawings. Four years later the Getty is offering “Zeitgeist: Art in the Germanic World, 1800-1900.” It’s not just a retread. Half its objects were not in the previous show. They include a few paintings, a few recent acquisitions, plus loans from local collections. Caspar David Friedrich and Philipp Otto Runge, absent from the 2011 exhibition, each command a wall to themselves (at top, Runge’s silhouette Poppy).
The biggest surprise might be “local collections.” Who in L.A. collects 19th-century German art? (Shown, Joseph Anton Koch’s painting, Landscape with Apollo Among the Shepherds, c. 1836.)
The only lenders mentioned by name on the exhibition’s labels are Eva and Brian Sweeney. The Sweeney’s Germanic art is often on view at the El Segundo Museum of Art. The other lenders go uncredited, but KPCC’s Marc Haefele has identified them as Fiona Chalom and Joel Aronowitz, a Beverly Hills psychotherapist and a Cedars Sinai plastic surgeon (and a couple).
Chalom is on the board of the Wende Museum. The latter’s website says she has “a significant art collection of 19th century German Nazarene painting as well as communist Hungarian and North Korean artworks.” How cool is that?
This Getty show has two paintings and about a dozen drawings by the Nazarenes, described as the German/ Viennese forerunners of Britain’s Pre-Raphaelites. The Nazarenes were an anti-academy movement whose principal members moved to Rome and lived in an abandoned monastery.
Though the Nazarenes claimed to despise neoclassicism, their portrait drawings were very much in the mode of Ingres. At right is Friedrich Preller’s portrait of the Belgian painter Jan Antoon Vershaeren, a gift of Thomas and Gianna Le Claire. It dates from 1829, not long after Ingres’ gig as Grand Tour portraitist in Rome.
The Getty is also showing its first drawings by Friedrich and Carl Gustav Carus, both recently added; the Getty Research Institute’s four-print suite of The Times of Day by Runge; the museum’s two great Klimt drawings in period frames; Frantisek Kupka’s pastel Girl Shading Her Eyes (1908), one of the few strictly modern works in the museum’s drawing collection.
Another loan is a magisterial Friedrich wash drawing, View toward Cape Arcona, Rügen (bottom of post). The subject and medium are similar to the View of Arkona with Rising Moon and Nets that the Getty tried unsuccessfully to buy back in 2001. The latter drawing went to Swiss dealer Jan Krugier, who sold it to the Albertina. The View toward Cape Arcona in “Zeitgeist,” described as the most detailed of the Arkona watercolors, went for $748,000 in 2014. That was the same sale in which the Getty bought Seurat’s drawing of an Indian Man (from the Jan Krugier collection) for $4 million.