With the exhibition, Gottfried Lindauer, the Nationalgalerie is making a first presentation of the work of an artist whose sensational painting has never before been exhibited in Europe and who is unknown outside of New Zealand.
With the exhibition, Gottfried Lindauer. The Māori Portraits, the Nationalgalerie presents, for the first time, Gottfried Lindauer(1839-1926), whose works are all but unknown outside of New Zealand, in the Alte Nationalgalerie. It is the first time that the descendants of the personalities depicted have, together with Haerewa (Māori scholars and artists acting as consultants to Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki), given permission for the pictures to be shown outside of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The pictures have never left New Zealand because, for the descendants of the personalities depicted, the memory of their ancestors is part of living and the former are always mindful of the bonds tying successive generations to their lineage, history and identity right up to today.
Gottfried Lindauer, born in 1839 in Pilsen (today in the Czech Republic), is one of the few painters of the late 19th century to devote himself in his work almost exclusively to depicting an indigenous people, the Māori of Aotearoa/New Zealand, in portraits and genre paintings. Gottfried Lindauer was trained at the Vienna Academy of Art. His teachers were Leopold Kuppelwieser, Josef von Führich and Carl Hemerlein. As the increasing popularity of photography began to jeopardise his chances of commissions in Pilsen, and there was also the threat of being drafted into the military in the Austro-Hungarian War, Lindauer decided to emigrate by taking ship from Hamburg.
He arrived in Wellington harbour in 1874, settled in the merchant city of Auckland, where he met his patron, the businessman, Henry Partridge, who wanted to record the Māori culture. Lindauer died at a ripe old age in 1926 in Woodville.
The exhibition opens up a further chapter in the history of 19th century art and one focusing on the complex web of relationships already woven around the whole world. With its premier collection from the 19th century, the Alte Nationalgalerie forms an ideal context for this exhibition. The bitterly conducted struggle at the end of the 19th century over acquisitions of the French art of Impressionism does, in fact, define the decisive background to the history of collecting and to the identity of the Nationalgalerie. Previously, the museum's international perspective surveyed a European history of art and excluded the context of what was already a globalised world in the 19th century. The questions of inclusion and exclusion, as developed in the context of contemporary art with the aim of scrutinising our own cultural practice, are highly relevant here, as the portraits of tattooed Māori bear witness to a genuine and rare bicultural interaction and demonstrate the energy arising from the encounter between very different people, societies and cultures.
In conjunction with the exhibition, we are publishing a comprehensive book (ISBN 978-86335-630-9), in German and English, with full-sided illustrations of all of the portraits and extensive details on their subjects. Scholars from Aotearoa/New Zealand and from Germany have interpreted the wide spectrum of the works in expert articles. Udo Kittelmann and Britta Schmitz are the book's editors, and it will be published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne.
A scholarly symposium in collaboration with the University of Darmstadt is being planned for February 20/21, 2015. The exhibition will be accompanied by a wide-ranging programme of information.
Co-organiser Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin, Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie