News 28 March 2014 - 30 June 2014

"I go my own way..." Sascha Schneider - Art and Homoeroticism ca 1900

Duration of the exhibition: 28 March to 30 June 2014

Curator: Jonathan David Katz (Leslie Lohman Museum New York)

Sascha Schneider lived in an age of upheaval, an era of contradictions. The liberal climate in Berlin around the year 1900 made the city into a magnet for many homosexuals. Yet at the same time, homosexuality was persecuted in accordance with §175 of the German penal code, and the Berlin police created a department specifically for this purpose.

Schneider's artistic output takes a prominent position in the context of nudist culture of the turn of the last century. His principal motif is the male body. He explores this body as a theme in a wealth of variations, and it becomes the viewer's object of desire. Schneider takes up motifs from classical antiquity, works with the ideal image of man and strives for the pure representation of human form. Here, depictions of fragile epheboi (the antique idea of a beautiful adolescent) exist along with those of muscular males. The overt representation of male bodies was catalyzed by the so-called “hygiene movement”. This movement aimed to resurrect the classical concept of the strong and healthy body – naked and frequently seen training in the open. It was here that Schneider found a culturally accepted form for his desire.

Schneider's body of work is seen as a document of an early “gay” art concept and is thus of particular historical interest. The artist himself is today considered one of the first obviously and self-confidently “gay” artists.

Although Schneider's complete body of work is generally considered to be lost or destroyed as a result of the two world wars and the subsequent division of Germany, a great number of pieces have been preserved. The Schwules Museum* shows the Röder Collection, featuring images, photographs, sculptures and public murals with homoerotic themes. The collector Hans-Gerd Röder will speak at the exhibition opening on “The Collector and his Collection – 40 Years for Sascha Schneider”. The exhibition has been curated and organized by Jonathan David Katz and was on view at the Leslie Lohman Museum in New York in 2013. Katz is Head of the Board of Directors of the Leslie Lohman Gay Art Foundation and will give an introduction to Schneider's work at the opening (in English with German translation).

 

Rudolph Karl Alexander (aka Sascha) Schneider (1870-1927) was a German painter, illustrator and sculptor. He came from a Danish family which moved to Zürich in 1881 and then to Dresden shortly thereafter. After studying at the Dresden Academy of Art, Schneider moved into a studio in the same city with a friend and showed his work in solo exhibitions. His friendship with the German sculptor, painter and illustrator Max Klinger was instrumental in making contacts within the established art scene. In 1900, he opened his own studio in Weimar. In the year 1903 he met Karl May, who was impressed by Schneider's symbolist style and commissioned a mural. Shortly thereafter, Karl May decided to have his travel memoirs designed with new cover images by Schneider. That same year, the artist was given a position as professor of figure drawing at the Weimar School of Art.

In Weimar, Schneider quickly got caught between the lines of various artistic schools of thought and his private life came under fire. In the year 1908, he quit the position and went into exile in Italy. This was motivated by the blackmail attempt of his then-boyfriend, because of which risked persecution under §175. Although Schneider established himself rapidly in Italy, he returned repeatedly to Germany incognito and then for good in 1914. He started working in the Dresden artists' house in 1917 and founded the “Kraft Art Institute” in the same city in 1920. He became a member of the honorary board of the International Art Exhibition Dresden, in which he also showed one work. Sascha Schneider died on holiday near Swinemünde of complications due to diabetes.

 

The exhibition is organized and curated by the Leslie Lohman Museum.