Georg Kolbe. Blue Ink Drawings
An exhibition of works by Georg Kolbe
The group of drawings displayed at the exhibition belongs to the beginning
of 1920s. Similar works by Kolbe performed between
In 1919-1920s Kolbe practically did not work as a sculptor. During this
Kolbe almost always signed his drawings with a monogram and almost never
dated them. That is why it is not exactly known when he began to create
these drawings. Most of the researchers connect the largest part of his
In most cases the theme of these drawings lies in a movement of a female model conveyed by a swift, almost intuitively caught sketch. Only a few precise lines expressed on paper convey the nature of a strained movement, a complicated and sometimes even provocative posture so laconically and expressively. The work is finished with a few brush strokes that outline shapes and bring the necessary dramatic effect and decorative elements into the composition of the drawing.
The theme that unites all the works performed by Kolbe during the period
of Blue Ink Drawing is erotic origin. Almost one century later the perception
of these works changed in many ways, but in 1920s such sketches were considered
to be quite scandalous. Different actresses and dancers served as models
for the artist. In 1920s the dancers who performed before the master were
a Javanese dancer Seeti Sundari, Ďbarefootí ballet dancer - Charlotte
Bara, variety dancers Vera Skoronel and Palucca, Eva Reichlin from Red
Dances group and a dancer Ted Schawn. They were all very
Apparently some other model sat for the drawings that came to the Hermitage, the model that would satisfy aesthetic preferences of Kolbe and had good physical training, perhaps, she was also a dancer. She is free and unrestrained, without difficulty she can maintain complex postures that never repeat in the sculptorís works. Her movements are intense and complex, and yet they are natural and devoid of any exaltation. The admiration by the perfection of a female body, smoothness of her shapes and plastique of her movements is perceived in these drawings.
There are special compositions among the exhibited works. After two of them
Two more drawings belong to sketches of nude lovers that are quite rare among sketches by Kolbe. One of them in which a couple is depicted in a posture of a struggle between a men and a woman was reproduced in the book by Walentiner. Another two drawings that are now in the Hermitage are also published in this book. If we take into account that only thirteen graphic works by the master are reproduced in the book, then it indicates a very high level of works that came to the museum collection.
Only one of the exhibited works is not connected with sketches of a nude model. It is a project of a Memorial hall that was ordered under the will of Karl August Linger, a factory owner from Dresden. Linger, an old friend of Kolbe and the first collector of his works, died in 1916. In his house in Weissen Hirsch it was planning to build a memorial. As it can be seen from Kolbeís draft it should have been a round spacious room with upper lighting. The sculptor planned to cover its walls with bronze relief, and in the middle he was planning to place a sculpture Assunta on a high pedestal. This is a big bronze statue (170 centimeters high), it is the only part of the planned ensemble that was implemented, however, later the artist was able to return to his plan and created Ring of Statues in Rothschild Park in Frankfurt am Main in 1930s.
After World War I Kolbe resumed his work as a sculptor. However, since that time in the publicís mind his graphic works have become inseparable from his other works. It is likely that the biggest part of his graphic works was acquired by one of collectors from Berlin. Unfortunately, the drawings do not have any collection marks, notes or inscriptions that could help to identify the source of their entry into the Hermitage. At any rate, during the war they were no longer in the collection of the artist. There is also no information about the works that came to the Hermitage in Georg Kolbe Museum in Berlin where the masterís archives are situated and study of his works is conducted. It is likely that now it is the most interesting and significant collection of graphic works by the master outside Germany.
The State Hermitage Publishing House has prepared a scientific illustrated catalogue for the exhibition; the author of the text is the curator of the exhibition Mikhail Dedinkin, chief assistant at the Department of Western European Art of the State Hermitage.