Sascha Wiederhold. Rediscovery of a Forgotten Artist / Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Sascha Wiederhold. Rediscovery of a Forgotten Artist is a special exhibition by the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The show presents works by Sascha Wiederhold (1904-1962) for the first time in nearly half a century. It’s also the very first museum presentation dedicated to this artist alone. Sascha Wiederhold began painting in 1924 and belonged to the circle around Herwarth Walden’s Berlin gallery Der Sturm. During the Nazi period, he discontinued his practice and worked as a bookseller; today, only few of Wiederhold’s works survive. The Neue Nationalgalerie presents more than fifty of Wiederhold’s paintings and drawings.

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Wiederhold’s imagery consists of wildly whirling shapes and patterns in intense colors. The large paintings convey an almost psychedelic visual experience. The new acquisition of the painting Bogenschützen (Archers, 1928) for the collection of the Nationalgalerie in 2021 was a first step to- ward the artist’s rediscovery. The painting has been on show in the exhibition The Art of Society 1900–1945 since the museum reopened in the summer of 2021. Wiederhold also created theatrical scenery, posters, and book covers, which form a further part of this first solo museum exhibition.

As an artist, Sascha Wiederhold has remained almost completely unknown and only few of his works survive. In 1925, however, he was off to a promising start when, at the age of twenty-one, he was given the opportunity to exhibit at the well-known Berlin gallery Der Sturm, where the gallerist Herwarth Walden was showing the revolutionary art of the contemporary avant-gardes. Walden was so enthusiastic about the young painter that he wrote a few words of recommendation for him on his calling card, to give to Ludwig Justi, the director of the Nationalgalerie.

Sascha Wiederhold would enjoy only few productive years before it became impossible to publicly exhibit his unmistakably modern artworks during the Nazi period. At this point, Wiederhold ended his artistic career, retrained as a bookseller, and continued to work in this profession even after the Second World War.

The artist had fallen almost completely into oblivion when he was rediscovered in the early 1960s by the art dealer and collector Carl Laszlo. Apart from two minor exhibitions in the mid-1970s, Wiederhold’s work did not find significant resonance. It seems it is only now that the time for an appreciation of his surprising work has come. After half a century, an exhibition is once again dedicated to this artist.

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