The exhibition "Max Kaus. Among Friends" presents the multi-faceted work of this Berlin-based artist. At the same time, it acknowledges the generous gift made by Sigrid Kaus who has, over the past two years, donated 20 paintings from all phases of the artist’s career to the Brücke-Museum.
Max Kaus (1891–1977) always stressed the continuity of his oeuvre, which extends all the way from his early works, with their Expressionist feel, to his later pieces, which tended towards abstraction. As the artist saw it, all his works were defined by “the impressions left by nature” and his “desire for orderliness in the sense of completion”. The exhibition invites viewers to get an idea of this works and to investigate his versatile pictorial vocabulary.
The exhibition shows paintings, prints and watercolours from the years 1911 through 1975. They are juxtaposed to works by Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Otto Mueller and Max Pechstein. Through the dialogue thus established to the output of his artist friends, the exhibition traces Kaus’ broad network of friends and acquaintances and the images that populated that world.
The show sheds considerable light on the various topics which connected Kaus with the Brücke artists, topics ranging from bathers to the many different ways of executing lithographs or indeed Kaus’ involvement in a joint artistic venture planned by Schmidt-Rottluff. Something that is particularly well illustrated is the mutual esteem in which Kaus, Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff held one another, as attested to by the gifts they exchanged as tokens of their friendship. Accordingly, one chapter of the exhibition is dedicated specifically to the works that the artists gave one another as presents. A number of these have hand-written dedications on them, underscoring the close bonds between these fellow artists.
Kaus met Heckel during the First World War when the two were stationed as medical orderlies in Ostend in Belgium. Back in Berlin, Heckel introduced Kaus to Schmidt-Rottluff in 1919. And in 1920 Kaus also made the acquaintance of Otto Mueller and Max Pechstein. Now, 100 years later, this exhibition celebrates the friendship and the many sides to the artistic interaction between Kaus and the former Brücke painters.
The Brücke-Museum first acquired works by Kaus as early as 1966 as a result of efforts by Erich Heckel. Today the collection includes more than 180 pieces by Kaus – a sure indication that Kaus will continue to be accorded his own special place in the circle of his friends.