Otto Mueller: Zwei kauernde Mädchen, 1924 (Detail) | Leimfarbe auf Rupfen, 98,3 x 129,5 cm | Sammlung Karsch-Nierendorf | © Foto: Eric Tschernow


The exhibition PAINTER. MENTOR. MAGICIAN. is the first to spotlight the enormous influence of the former Brücke artist and expressionist Otto Mueller (1874–1930): for over ten years the artist was engaged as a teacher at the State Academy of Arts and Crafts in Wrocław, which at that time was one of the most progressive schools of art in Europe. Particularly from the 1920s onwards, the Wrocław Academy had a reputation for cosmopolitanism and liberality, thanks to the numerous new appointments made by the director at that time, Oskar Moll. This was a place where the many-faceted movements in modern art stood side by side as equals: Expressionism with Otto Mueller, French Peinture of the Académie Matisse with Oskar Moll, New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit) with Alexander Kanoldt and Carlo Mense and Bauhaus with Oskar Schlemmer, Georg Muche or Johannes Molzahn.

Otto Mueller: Self Portrait with Pentagram, around 1924 | Distemper on hessian, 120 x 75.5 cm | Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal
© Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal | photo: Antje Zeis-Loi, Medienzentrum Wuppertal

Otto Mueller: Two Girls, around 1925 | Distemper on hessian, 175 x 111 cm | Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie | © bpk / Nationalgalerie, SMB | photo: Jörg P. Anders

The main focus of the exhibition is on modernist painting: Otto Mueller and his network experienced a creative phase in Wrocław which they described as highly productive and a direct result of their exchanges and reciprocal influence. The ways in which the artist colleagues influenced each other become apparent through thematic similarities and other cross-references: in paintings, works on paper, written statements or photographs. And it was the charismatic Otto Mueller, driven by longing and a thirst for freedom, who had the greatest influence on the Breslau art scene. From the comments of his closest associates, including art critics and writers, he seems to have been a ‘romantic’ and even a ‘magician’. He had already been immortalised by Carl Hauptmann in his biography of an artist “Einhart der Lächler” (1907) – and with this the Silesian poet laid an important foundation stone for the myth later to surround the artist.

Mueller’s striking appearance and his anti-bourgeois way of living held an enormous fascination for his students at the Academy, men and women alike. They loved his total commitment to art, his unconventional teaching methods and his humor. Some of his students – such as Alexander Camaro or Horst Strempel – went on from Wrocław to Berlin and experienced here the zeniths of their artistic careers.

One special feature of the curatorial concept of PAINTER. MENTOR. MAGICIAN. is the ‘guest exhibit’ principle: what is meant by this are selected works that spotlight the intercultural similarities and differences over the epochs, particularly in the German-Polish context. The inclusion of ‘Polish Expressionists’ provides unique visual com-parisons and new correlations and at the same time underlines the German-Polish orientation of the exhibition.

The immense appreciation for Otto Mueller’s work – from the perspective of his artist network – extends into post-war modernism: an important chapter of German-Polish art history is retold in special consideration of the interaction between the cities of Berlin and Wrocław.

This reflects the relations between the Nationalgalerie in Berlin and the former Silesian Museum of Fine Arts in Wrocław (today Muzeum Narodowe in Wrocław) which were characterized by intensive exchange and collaboration. One paradigmatic example of this was the Otto Mueller Memorial Exhibition initiated by Director Erich Wiese in Wrocław in 1931 – shortly after the death of the celebrated expressionist – which was adopted that same year by Ludwig Justi, Director of the Nationalgalerie as a commemorative exhibition in Berlin.

The present exhibition PAINTER. MENTOR. MAGICIAN. follows the opposite route. It has been developed in Berlin and will go on to be shown in Wrocław in a modified form. In Berlin the exhibition continues the sequence of presentations on Classic Modernism that have been shown during the renovation of the Neue Nationalgalerie at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin: “The Black Years. Histories of a Collection: 1933–1945”, “Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Hieroglyphs” and “Rudolf Belling. Sculptures and Architectures”.


Witkacy: The last Cigarette of the Convict (Self portrait), 1924 | Oil on cardboard, 72 x 51 cm | Museum of Literature, Warsaw | © Museum of Literature Warsaw | photo: Anna Kowalska

Plan your visit


October 12, 2018 – March 3, 2019


Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Invalidenstraße 50-51
10557 Berlin


regular: 8 Euro
reduced: 4 Euro
house ticket incl. temporary exhibitions:
regular: 14 Euro
reduced: 7 Euro
Free admission on every first Thursday of the month from 4 to 8 pm.
Free admission for children and young people up to the age of 18.
Book tickets online


U-Bahn U55 Hauptbahnhof, U6 Naturkundemuseum
S-Bahn S3, S5, S7, S75 Hauptbahnhof
Tram M5, M8, M10 Hauptbahnhof
Bus 120, 123, 142, 147, 245, M41, M85, TXL Hauptbahnhof


Café/book store/free cloak room


10 am – 6 pm
10 am – 6 pm
10 am – 8 pm
10 am – 6 pm
11 am – 6 pm
11 am – 6 pm


Christmas Eve (Monday 24 December 2018): closed
Christmas Day (Tuesday 25 December 2018): 11 am – 6 pm
Boxing Day (Wednesday 26 December 2018): 11 am – 6 pm
New Year’s Eve (Monday 31 December 2018): closed
New Year (Tuesday 1 January 2019): 12 am – 6 pm


To accompany the exhibition, a richly illustrated catalogue is being published in a German and a Polish edition. Both versions are available at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin from October 12, 2018.

Softcover with flaps
26.5 cm x 20 cm
440 pages
ISBN 978-3-86828-873-52018
Price during the exhibition at the museum: 34,90 Euro (regular: 39,90 Euro)

Edited by Dagmar Schmengler, Agnes Kern and Lidia Głuchowska
Texts by Magdalena Droste, Lidia Głuchowska, Barbara Ilkosz, Florian Karsch, Iwona Luba, Gerhard Leistner, Piotr Łukaszewicz, Tanja Pirsig-Marshall, Sarah M. Schlachetzki, Dieter Scholz, Peter Sprengel, Małgorzata Stolarska-Fronia, Petra Winter et al.

The catalogue is being realised by: ZEIT-Stiftung, Ernst von Siemens-Kunststiftung

Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin

The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin presides over a comprehensive collection of contemporary art, which it presents in a variety of exhibitions. It is the largest among the buildings housing the Nationalgalerie’s extensive holdings, the remainder of which are divided into the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Neue Nationalgalerie, the Museum Berggruen, and the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg.

More information

The exhibition is made possible by: Freunde der Nationalgalerie, Hauptstadtkulturfonds, Kulturstiftung der Länder, Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung, Stiftung für deutsch-polnische Zusammenarbeit, Stiftung Preußische Seehandlung

On the occasion of 100 years of Bauhaus.

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