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Landscape, light and rural life

Städtischen Galerie
Schwalenberg, GER
9.9 - 29.10.2023

Landscape, light and rural life / Landschaft, Licht und Landleben
On the traces of the artist colony Schwalenberg.
Exhibition in the Municipal Galle

In cooperation with the town of Schieder-Schwalenberg, the Cultural Agency of the Lippe Regional Association will again present an exhibition on the theme of the Schwalenberg Artists’ Colony in 2023.

Under the title Landscape, Light and Country Life. In the footsteps of the artists’ colony Schwalenberg, works from times of the artists’ colony will be shown in the Städtische Galerie in Schwalenberg from September 09 to October 29, 2023.
The focus this time is on the impressionistic light effect in the works.
The “painter’s town of Schwalenberg” in the southeast of Lippe between the Weserbergland and the Teutoburg Forest is one of the historically documented artist colonies of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Early on, artists from Düsseldorf and Berlin played an important role for the medieval rural small town.

But what drew the artists from the big cities of Berlin and Düsseldorf to Schwalenberg of all places? Even though the place is embedded in a very varied, lovely landscape, it is still far away from a big city with an art academy. This development can be explained by the general movement of plein air painting, i.e. outdoor or open-air painting, which originated in France in the 19th century and in the course of which around 180 artists’ colonies were established throughout Europe in a short period of time. The painters who came to Schwalenberg were thus following a phenomenon of the time: more and more artists in Germany were leaving their studios to seek new forms of artistic expression directly in nature under the open sky.

The realistic, as well as the idealized landscape, moved visibly into the background in painting in the 19th century. The painters, who were mostly oriented to the Impressionism coming from France, were rather fascinated by the different moods of changing color and light conditions.

Framed by an idyllic landscape of rolling hills, characterized by winding alleys and richly carved medieval half-timbered houses, as well as the castle above the town on the hill, Schwalenberg was a center of attraction for painters who turned to the emerging style of open-air painting.
In addition, there was a geo-atmospheric peculiarity that made the place particularly interesting for impressionist landscape painters: on warm days, a particularly shimmering light rises from the “Mörth”. The former high moor is called “Mörth”, which stretches between the villages of Schieder, Schwalenberg, Rischenau and Elbrinxen at an altitude of up to 446 m above sea level. On the wooded slopes of the western side, the air heated by solar radiation rises, while the cold air currents on the eastern side descend. The ascending and descending air masses create an alternation of different shades of blue and gray in the sky above Schwalenberg.

Schwalenberg became a kind of temporary artists’ colony for city dwellers, especially in the years between the world wars.
The painter’s town had its heyday in the 1920s. During this period, Schwalenberg attracted more artists than ever before or since. The artistic creativity contrasted – as almost everywhere in Germany at that time – with the modest economic conditions. Perhaps the cheaper cost of living in rural Schwalenberg compared to a big city was an additional reason why many artists spent the summer months here.

The exhibition shows selected works from the collections of the town of Schieder-Schwalenberg and the Cultural Agency of the Lippe Regional Association of landscape and genre painting associated with Schwalenberg. New additions to the collection will also be shown.

Fig: Hans Licht, Valley in the Lippe Southeast, oil on hardboard, no year, 74 x 85 cm
Fig: Robert Kämmerer the Elder, Das Mörth bei Schwalenberg im Herbst, oil, HF, 1925