Arne Jysch's graphic novel "The Wet Fish" about Berlin in the 1920s
04.07.2020 - 27.09.2020

The 2020s have barely begun and already everything is at stake. Just like a hundred years ago. Back then, the First World War had just ended, the Spanish flu claimed hundreds of thousands of victims in Germany, and the Kaiser had abdicated. The newly established republic was practising parliamentary democracy, even women were now allowed to vote. Berlin, the capital of the young republic, was a rapidly growing metropolis with almost four million inhabitants. In the evenings, the original and new Berliners celebrated with artists from all over Europe. Literature, painting and music sought a modern language for this society in turmoil. The increasing economic problems led to the strengthening and radicalisation of right-wing and left-wing organisations. The graphic novel Der nasse Fisch by Arne Jysch, based on the novel by Volker Kutscher, is set in this period.

Arne Jysch (born 1973 in Bremen) works as a storyboard artist, illustrator and as a guest lecturer for film language at the Babelsberg Film University. In his adaptation of the novel, he condenses Volker Kutscher's original about the detective superintendent Gereon Rath into a visually powerful graphic novel. Rath arrives in Berlin in March 1929 and gets caught in the middle of the conflicts between exiled Russians, Freikorps members and ring clubs.

Jysch uses black and white scenes to paint an atmospheric picture of Berlin in the 1920s - of modernity, of the boundless lust for life, but also of poverty, crime and political tensions. The exhibition of the Cranach Foundation showed scenes from the graphic novel and Jysch's sketches and studies for it. The era was also brought to life by original graphics (G. Gruber Collection), fashion and everyday objects (A. Ohm Foundation) from the 1920s.

Graphic novels in the Cranach House? With his graphic cycles, Cranach was a forerunner of this artistic medium. As early as 1521, he published the Passional Christi und Antichristi - a picture story criticising the Pope. A year later he created a series of woodcuts on the Apocalypse. Two sheets refer to Babylon, to the Babel of Sin as a synonym for a place of savage debauchery, in Cranach's woodcuts with clear references to the Roman papacy. For Luther and Cranach at the time, Rome was the Babel of Sin, for them it would have been BABYLON ROM. Supported by: Lotto Saxony-Anhalt


25.01.2020 – 17.06.2020

The exhibition showed paintings, drawings and woodcuts by the artist Thomas Schmid, who has lived in Wittenberg since 1974. His paintings seem frozen, still and beyond time. Schmid's landscapes, still lifes and figurative paintings, influenced by New Objectivity and late Expressionism, become allegories by concentrating on the essential.

Art after 1945. The Gerd Gruber Collection

An exhibition at three locations in Lutherstadt Wittenberg 11.09.2019 - 06.01.2020

In 2019/2020, three exhibitions from Dr. Gerd Gruber's extensive collection were shown in Lutherstadt Wittenberg under the joint title Art after 1945: The Gerd Gruber Collection. In terms of content, they comprised the works created after the Second World War by nationally and internationally important artists. Alongside lesser-known names, many world-class artists are to be found.

The exhibition in the ALTER RATHAUS showed works by international artists of the second half of the 20th century under the title INTERNATIONAL POSITIONS. Immediately after 1945, art was on the move - artists worldwide were searching for new forms of expression in response to the horrors of the Second World War. The exhibition illustrates the global networking that took place in the second half of the 20th century, with artists not only in Europe and the USA achieving similar results, but also in South America, Asia and Africa. On display are works from all over Europe and the USA, Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Israel, Nigeria, Japan, India and Russia by artists such as Giorgio de Chirico, Sonja Delaunay, Alberto Giacometti, Anatoli Kaplan, Marina Marini, Giacomo Manzù, Henry Moore, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Antonio Tapies, Emilio Vedova and many more.

Under the title NEW BUILDING HOUSE, works by Bauhaus masters and students were shown in the CRANACH-HOF, MARKT 4, which were created after 1945 and demonstrate the influence of the Bauhaus on art, architecture and design in the second half of the 20th century.

Immediately after the National Socialists came to power, they closed the Bauhaus. In connection with the emigration of many masters and students that followed, the Bauhaus idea spread worldwide. After 1945, in the young Federal Republic, Bauhaus masters such as Georg Muche and Gerhard Marcks once again taught at workshops and universities. Initially, the SBZ/DDR also took up the Bauhaus ideas, until they were suppressed from 1950 onwards in the context of the discussions on formalism and were not taken up again until the late 1960s. The exhibition in the Cranach House shows works by T. Lux Feininger, Johannes Itten, Max Bill, Ida Kerkovius, Gerhard Marcks, Georg Muche, Fritz Winter and Petra Petitpierre, among others.

The STIFTUNG CHRISTLICHE KUNST, in Wittenberg Castle, juxtaposed religious works from its collection with pacifist works by the same artists from the Gruber Collection under the title PAZIFISM MEETS RELIGION. This juxtaposition showed that one does not exclude the other in modern art after 1945, but that both themes complement and reinforce each other in their social and political statements. The exhibition shows works by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Oskar Kokoschka, Max Pechstein, HAP Grieshaber Fritz Cremer, Carlos Hermosilla Alvarez, Joseph Beuys, Toshi and Iri Maruki.

A catalogue is available for the exhibition. Supported by: Lotto Saxony-Anhalt

Art before Cranach.

Paintings, Sculptures and Objects of the 11th-15th Century from the August Ohm Foundation in Hamburg 26.01.2019 - 01.09.2019

As far removed as we are today from the world of Lucas Cranach, his contemporaries were from the world of the High Middle Ages. Yet the people of the 11th/12th century were equally in an era of tremendous change. An enormous increase in population led to the founding of numerous settlements and towns. New occupational profiles and differentiated crafts developed.

The great pilgrimages broadened people's horizons of experience and their view of the world. In the 13th century, the Franciscan movement prepared an individualisation and internalisation of faith, while at the same time visions of the end times worried people. In the visual arts, the development from Romanesque to Gothic reflects the change from chivalric-feudal structures to urban culture. At the beginning of the exhibition is a Romanesque robed figure (early 11th century) whose abstractness points to its spiritual context.

The sculptures and paintings on display from the 12th to 15th centuries showed the progressive struggle for individualisation and for a reflection of reality. Initially, the master builders, sculptors and painters of Italy were to rise from the sphere of craftsmanship serving faith alone, then around 1500 the artists of the North, painters such as Lucas Cranach the Elder. The exhibition showed over 40 paintings, sculptures, sacred and everyday objects on loan from the Hamburg collection Atelier und Stiftung August Ohm. Supported by: Lotto Saxony-Anhalt

Marc Chagall - Anatoli Kaplan. Memories of the Shtetl.

Drawings and Prints 10.11.2018 - 20.01.2019

In Marc Chagall's (1887-1985) paintings and prints, the villages and people of his childhood appear again and again. He was born as the eldest son of a Jewish family with many children in the Belarusian city of Vitebsk - a Jewish-dominated town on the periphery of Tsarist Russia, where hardship and distress determined the daily lives of most inhabitants. The relatively secluded life in the so-called "shtetl", a small, autonomous Jewish settlement, meant that Orthodox Jewish traditions, cultural identities and Jewish ways of life were preserved for a long time. The language spoken there was "Yiddish", which was also influenced by the German language.

The world of the shtetl was destroyed by the National Socialist Holocaust of 1939-1945. But it is preserved forever in the works of Marc Chagall and Anatoly Kaplan (1902-1980), who was fifteen years younger. Kaplan was born into the same milieu in Rogachev, not far from Vitebsk. Both artists bring the indomitable lust for life and the smiling Yiddish self-irony into the picture. They show the unmistakable characters, the festivals, rites and habits of the simple Jewish people. The exhibition showed 40 drawings and prints from the Dr Gerd Gruber collection. Supported by: Lotto Saxony-Anhalt

Frederike von Cranach: Acheron

15.09.2018 - 04.11.2018

Frederike von Cranach at the Cranach House: the Cranach Foundation showed prints and objects by the artist. She grew up in Cologne and spent several years in the Netherlands and Brazil. She currently lives and works in London.

Under the title Acheron, the exhibition featured works that address the becoming and passing away, the tenderness and vulnerability of nature as well as the insignificance of man in it. In Greek mythology, the river Acheron connected this world with the hereafter. In her works on paper, the artist also refers to the ideas of the afterlife of Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553).

She uses motifs from his woodcut The Damned in Hellfire (c. 1510). Frederike von Cranach formed the objects shown in the exhibition from egagropili - so-called "sea balls" formed from the foliage of the marine plant Posidonia oceanica. This is one of the oldest known living organisms on earth, ground into round or oval shapes by the maelstrom of time. Supported by: Lotto Saxony-Anhalt

Genuinely Fake.

Cranach and his Copyists - Aspects of the History of Reception 02.06.2018 - 09.09.2018

Fake news, alternative truths - these are not phenomena that have only appeared in the 21st century. Forged documents and images and the changes in meaning associated with them are a constant preoccupation of archives and museums. Original or copy? Masterpiece or schoolwork? These are also the questions one faces when assessing the work of the Cranach family. The style and pictorial inventions of Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) in particular have been taken up many times by other artists since the 16th century.

Successful motifs such as the portraits of Luther were already painted in large editions in the workshop, and numerous copies were also made in other workshops as late as the 16th century. The exhibition shows historical Cranach forgeries such as those by Franz Wolfgang Rohrich, who satisfied the constant demand for Old German painting with his fresh "Cranachs" at the beginning of the 19th century. But also on display are wonderful paintings from around 1600 from the Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie Dessau and the painting created by Wolfgang Beltracchi in the style of Cranach for the project Kairos - the Right Moment, which shows Luther in a thunderstorm outside Stotternheim. Supported by: Lotto Saxony-Anhalt

Van Bo Le-Mentzel: Hartz IV Furniture & 62 cm Home

10.03.2018 - 27.05.2018

The exhibition honoured the eight-year anniversary of the social Do it Yourself project Hartz IV-Möbel and showed the history of the furniture from DIY pioneer to design fetish. The Weil Chair, which was created at the Vitra Design Museum, was also exhibited for the first time. The highlight was the installation 62 cm Home, a 62 cm wide one-room flat with bathroom, kitchen and bedroom. The flat is pushed into a niche-like remaining room of the Cranach Foundation and is even available for trial living. Under the motto "Constructing instead of consuming", the exhibition dealt with the handling of unused resources, both in society and in public space.

Special feature No. 1: A temporary village of micro-apartments was created on the outdoor areas of the Cranach-Höfe. The Tiny House Village Wittenberg (curator: Apo Can Ericek) was an artistic intervention that addressed migration, social neighbourhood and education for a just world.

Special feature no. 2: Interested people could build their own Tiny House in a seminar. Special feature no. 3: For the first time, people were able to spend the night in a Tiny House in Wittenberg. For this purpose, the 100-euro flat was converted into a Tiny Hotel.

Blow by blow - The incredible adventures of the Abrafaxes with Luther, Cranach & Co.

24.10.2017 - 18.02.2018

On their travels through time, the Abrafaxes had landed in Wittenberg, exactly in the year 1517. Brabax helps Martin Luther to shorten his original 478 theses to 95 theses. Califax makes himself indispensable as a kitchen assistant in the Cranach workshop. Reason enough to invite the Abrafaxes and the Mosaic team to tell the whole story of the Reformation. On 24 October, the MOSAIK team was a guest in the Cranach courtyards with various school projects and an exhibition of original drawings was also opened.

Supported by: Lotto Saxony-Anhalt

Apocalypse now

20.05.2017 - 20.08.2017

The early 16th century was not only a time of great discoveries and inventions, but it was also characterised by apocalyptic ideas of the end times and the fear of God's coming Last Judgement. In 1522, Lucas Cranach the Elder created the illustrations for the texts of the Revelation of John (Revelation - Greek: apokalypsis) for Martin Luther's translation of the New Testament, which still has an impact today. Cranach took his cue from Dürer's series of woodcuts on the Apocalypse, which had been produced a few years earlier. The most famous print is probably the woodcut with the "Four Apocalyptic Horsemen", who bring war, death, famine and pestilence upon the land. John's visually powerful vision of doom and salvation is a recurring theme in art. As an act of resistance, artists under the Nazi dictatorship resorted to the religiously influenced motifs to find symbols for the horror. In addition to Dürer's series of woodcuts, the exhibition showed prints by Cranach, works of the 20th century as well as prints, paintings, objects and texts by Franca Bartholomäi, Pim Palsgraaf, Matthias Schmeier and Wolfgang Bauer.

Supported by: Lotto Saxony-Anhalt, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, County of Wittenberg

Bruno Beye, Max Dungert, Günther Vogler and the Artists of the Magdeburg Sphere.

Avant-garde in Central Germany around 1920
26.08.2017 - 15.10.2017

One hundred years ago, the First World War raged in Europe. Due to their war and post-war experiences, visual artists, writers, musicians and critics founded the artists' association "Kugel" in Magdeburg in early 1919. Under the slogan "Free Art - Free Spirits - Free Humanity", they came together to use art to "bring the peoples still separated by border posts closer together". They organised joint exhibitions, readings and performances. Expressionist texts, graphics and musical pieces were published in the magazine of the same name. The exhibition, with loans from the Gerd Gruber Collection, presented above all the Kugel protagonists Bruno Beye, Max Dungert and Günther Vogler. All three had begun their artistic training at the Magdeburg School of Arts and Crafts shortly before the First World War.

The "Kugel" existed until 1923, when the artists went their own ways. Many, however, remained non-conformists and were committed against the rising National Socialism.

Small paradises

18.02.2017 - 14.05.2017

From the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) came paintings such as "Let the Little Children Come to Me", "Caritas" or "Christ as the Good Shepherd", which illustrated Luther's understanding of God. Paintings that also supported a perception of the human being with all his strengths and weaknesses, with all his possibilities. In this spirit, the painting school of the Cranach Foundation has offered several painting projects in cooperation with the Wittenberg Association for the Disabled in recent years. In addition to unique works from these projects, the exhibition "Little Paradises" also showed graphics by Karl Hans Janke (1909 Kolberg-1988 Wermsdorf) and paintings and graphics by artists from the Lobetal Creative Workshop.

The Hoffnungstaler Stiftung Lobetal, which belongs to the v. Bodelschwinghschen Stiftungen Bethel, runs the Kreative Werkstatt Lobetal as a studio community to promote artists with special talents. Away from the art business, creative people such as Regina Hofmann, Günther Krug, Karl Beil, Detlev von Dossow, Ute Herzfeld or Ilse Berner create imaginative drawings and paintings. Works from the Creative Workshop were also on display in the Bethel Meeting Centre at Collegienstraße 41/42 in Wittenberg.

Karl Hans Janke saw himself more as an inventor. He created around 3000 drawings and models, mainly for aerospace technology. After Janke's death in 1988, his works were stored in a storeroom at Hubertusburg Castle (Wermsdorf) and were only rediscovered in 2000. His designs, which are now looked after by Rosengarten e. V., are now recognised as important works of Outsider Art.

Supported by: Lotto Saxony-Anhalt, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, County of Wittenberg

Marc Jung

19.11.2016 - 12.02.2017

In cooperation with the Kunsthaus Erfurt, the Cranach Foundation presented the exhibition "Feuilletonisiert" (Feuilletonised) with paintings, drawings and installations by the artist Marc Jung, born in Erfurt in 1985. Jung began as a wrestler and street artist, later studying at the Bauhaus University in Weimar and the Academy in Vienna. From 2012 to 2014, he was a master student under Wolfram Adalbert Scheffler at the Dresden University of Fine Arts.

With brute creative force, Marc Jung seizes the daily flood of images and samples the image of a media cosmos from icons, smileys, Pokemons, photos from news or lifestyle magazines and neon slogans. Jung approaches the motifs in an almost value-free manner. He uses photos that shape the pictorial memory of a year, from the trivial or high culture, photos of the return of the wolf or of the everyday life of the terribly large Wollny television family. TALK SHIT - GET HIT. And in between: Painting in a classical-expressive or street-art gesture.

Afterwards: PechaKucha Night Wittenberg; PechaKucha evenings in Lutherstadt Wittenberg with the kind support of the makers of PechaKucha Night Dessau -

Supported by: Lotto Saxony-Anhalt, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, County of Wittenberg

Further special exhibitions (selection)


Cranach and Luther. Departure into the New Era. Paintings, Graphics and Objects from the Collection ATELIER UND STIFTUNG AUGUST OHM, HAMBURG (Catalogue)


Cranach 2.0 - The International Lucas Cranach Award 2015 of Lutherstadt Wittenberg and the Lucas Cranach City of Kronach (catalogue)


Everything wonderful. Positions in Contemporary Art. Works and actions by Margarita Leonore Göbel, Jutta Konjer, Manfred Kroboth, Stefan Leyh, Stephanie Brysch, Matthias Schmeier and Christian Treffler.


Between Distress and Resistance. Prints and Paintings of the Years 1933 to 1945 from the Gerd Gruber Collection (catalogue)


Painter Lucas from Kronach. Lucas Cranach's early years (catalogue)


Venus, Eve & Co. Lucas Cranach's Nudes in the Context of Reformation and Humanism (Catalogue)

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