Elizabeth Shaw

July, 3rd - September, 19th 2021


Kunstmuseum Ahrenshoop
Weg zum Hohen Ufer 36, 18347 Ostseebad Ahrenshoop


On display are around 80 pen and ink drawings, lithographs and pastels from the life's work of the artist, who became known and popular for her satirical draughtsmanship and illustrations, especially in the field of children's books. The focus of the show is on sheets from Ahrenshoop - the place that the Irish-born artist visited many times with her husband, the German artist René Graetz, to relax and work.


Elizabeth Shaw grew up in Belfast, which was shattered by the civil war, before she received her artistic training at the Chelsea School of Art in London under Graham Sutherland and Henry Moore. In 1942, Shaw met the German artist René Graetz, who worked as a sculptor, painter and graphic artist in London after his release from an internment camp in Canada. A few years later, the couple moved to Berlin. Their acquaintance with the draughtsman and publicist Herbert Sandberg, who published the satirical magazine "Ulenspiegel" in Berlin, led them to collaborate on the publication and to focus on political caricature. Shaw had already published political caricatures in left-wing magazines during the Second World War. Her pen and ink drawings from the post-war period are not only impressive contemporary documents, they also show her subtle humour and her sense of caricatural exaggeration and satirical exaggeration. Even in the 1950s, there was a gradual departure from caricature in favour of book illustration. Shaw illustrated works by authors such as Mark Twain, Bertolt Brecht and Erich Kästner. Later she illustrated her own children's books. Among the best known are "The Little Scaredy-Cat", "Bettina Strolls" and "Gitti's Tomato Plant".


The exhibition focuses on Shaw's drawings of Ahrenshoop. In the early 1950s, Elizabeth Shaw and René Graetz and their two children were given accommodation in Ahrenshoop by the Kulturbund, which provided holiday places for cultural workers. For the family, the place meant relaxation and inspiration at the same time. In the course of a regular exchange with fellow artists, the idea for a "Bunte Stuben Post" (Colourful Parlour Post) also arose, a stationery that Elizabeth Shaw was commissioned to illustrate in 1968 and which is being reissued on the occasion of the presentation to be seen in the Ahrenshoop Art Museum. Her free drawings of Ahrenshoop and the surrounding area bear witness to her incessant desire to discover. On the one hand, she took aim at Ahrenshoop's summer guests, observing them closely and seasoning them with a pinch of dry humour. On the other hand, she drew interiors and views of the gardens with loose strokes - sometimes with a love of detail - capturing the tranquillity of the Bodden landscape and the vastness of the sea in its timeless beauty. In addition to these watercolour pen and ink drawings, it is especially the delicate pastels that are touching and speak of her love for this landscape. Elizabeth Shaw's art is an invitation to pause, to discover the beauty and truth in simple things and to encounter the everyday with a twinkle in her eye.

Site Plan Ahrenshoop