On Saturday, September 7, 2013, five panelists assembled in Steinberg Auditorium to discuss the legacy of German art and culture in St. Louis. The panel consisted of Sabine Eckmann, William T. Kemper Director and Chief Curator at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum; Simon Kelly, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum; Paul Michael Lutzeler, Rosa May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Max Kade Center for Contemporary German Literature at Washington University in St. Louis; Lynette Roth, Daimler-Benz Associate Curator at the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard Art Museums; and Tricia Y. Paik, Associate Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Each panelist presented on a segment of the history of German art and culture in St. Louis, beginning with the influence of beer magnate Adolphus Busch, then moving on to the German pavilions at the 1904 World’s Fair (Did you know that the artwork on view in the German Pavilion was all hand-selected by Emperor Wilhelm II?), the extensive Max Beckmann collection of Morton D. May, the strategic collecting of postwar German art by the Saint Louis Art Museum, and finally the recent acquisition of contemporary German artwork by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
The legacy of German art and culture is certainly a powerful one in St. Louis, despite the French origins of the city – so much so that St. Louis has one of the strongest collections of postwar German art in the country. At the turn of the century, 1 in 4 St. Louis residents were of German descent. Today, that count has certainly changed, but the legacy of German art and culture continues to thrive.
By Allison Fricke (Friday, September 13, 2013)