Arts in exile

Projectduration: 2013 – 2014
Project Sponsorship: Bundesbeauftragter für Kultur und Medien

The Deutsches Kunstarchiv (German Art Archive) of the GNM has, within its almost 1,400 holdings, numerous documents by artists and art experts forced into exile in the 20th century as a result of political pressure. Up to now, these sources have not been summarised in a targeted manner and only a small proportion have been digitalised. The aim of the project is to research images and writings from the holdings of the German Art Archive as part of the "Arts in Exile" virtual exhibition and to make these accessible online.

The "Arts in Exile" virtual exhibition is sponsored by the Federal Government Representative for Culture and Media and is led by the German Exile Archive 1933-1945 of the German National Library in Frankfurt am Main. Throughout Germany, selected network partners – including the German Literary Archive Marback, as well as the German Art Archive – are searching their holdings for traces of artists driven out of Germany. In close cooperation between heirs and copyright representatives in Germany and abroad, a network is thereby being created that documents the fates of writers, film-makers, artists, theatre professionals and musicians in exile and will present these to a broad public in fascinating words and pictures. The "Arts in Exile" research work will keep the subject in the public's awareness.

Project progression

The virtual exhibition looks at the various aspects of the subject of "Arts in Exile". The exhibition addresses the reasons for emigration and examines the historical context. It studies the host countries, the impact of the artists in emigration, artistic themes in exile, partnerships, political commitment, remigration and reception. The subject of "Arts in Exile" is approached from a geographical, chronological, biographical and thematic perspective. On 18 September 2013, the first part of the "Arts in Exile" virtual exhibition went live in the Office of the Federal Chancellor in Berlin. Completion of all modules of the current section of the project is scheduled for the end of 2014. However, the exhibition will also continue to grow after this date.

Project goal

For the "Arts in Exile" virtual exhibition, the German Art Archive specifically provides person-based, topic-based and object-based entries consisting of images, explanatory texts and cross-references. To this end, the estates of artists such as Manfred Henninger, Helmut Krommer, Ernst May, Alfred Neumeyer, Josef Scharl, Lili Schultz, Heinz Trökes or Gustav Wolf were studied with a view to their years in exile. The German Art Archive also has in its holdings testimonies from emigrant artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Oskar Kokoschka, Fritz Lang or Emy Roeder, which are also being integrated in the project. The individual lives of the people featured in "Arts in Exile" are revealed through works of art, writings, photographs or objects from a life in exile and their memory thus preserved. 

Archive Research projects


Further objects of research

Unbekannter Fotograf: Der Maler und Grafiker Manfred Henninger, erkrankt an Angina pectoris, Tessin, 1940, Signatur: DKA, NL Henninger, Manfred, I,A-2 (19)

Unbekannter Fotograf: Das Wohnhaus von Ernst May in Nairobi, Kenia, um 1938, Signatur: DKA, NL May, Ernst, I,A-19 (0001)

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