Franz von Stuck

November 2, 2013 – February 2, 2014

In his American debut at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Franz von Stuck (1863–1928) was praised by critics as “one of the most versatile and ingenious of contemporary German artists.” The renowned Symbolist painter, architect, designer, and cofounder of the Munich Secession exhibited his most famous painting, Sin, an iconic work of the fin de siècle, at the Third Annual Exhibition at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1898. Two years later, at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, Stuck was awarded a gold medal for furniture he designed for his magnificent villa in Munich, a Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art. In 1909, he was included in the Exhibition of Contemporary German Art which premiered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and travelled to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Copley Society in Boston. The same year he was awarded a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth and the 120th anniversary of his American debut, Franz von Stuck is celebrated in the first monographic exhibition in the United States dedicated to his accomplishments. The exhibition showcases his graphic and architectural design and his photography, as well as spectacular canvases that generated both praise and controversy among American critics of his day for their “cachet of strangeness, which comes from a modern treatment of legendary, biblical, mystic or symbolic subjects.” These masterworks include Lucifer, 1890, from the National Gallery for Foreign Art, Sofia, Bulgaria; Pietà, 1891, from the Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main; Wild Chase, 1899, from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France; Sin, ca. 1908, from the Frye Art Museum, Seattle; and Inferno, 1908, from the Mugrabi Collection.

The exhibition, a joint project of the Frye Art Museum in Seattle and the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich, is accompanied by a catalogue that examines Stuck’s theory of the spatial qualities of color; his influence on Josef Albers, Vassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee; his breach with naturalism; and his willing embrace of the transformative ideas of his day as articulated by Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Richard Wagner. The handsome, fully-illustrated 172-page publication documents for the first time Stuck’s participation in major international exhibitions in the United States and the reception of his work in the New World.

Franz von Stuck is organized by the Frye Art Museum, Seattle and the Museum Villa Stuck, Munich. The exhibition is curated by Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker and is funded by the Frye Foundation with the generous support of Frye Art Museum members and donors. It is sponsored by Nitze-Stagen and BNY Mellon Wealth Management and the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, San Francisco. Seasonal support is provided by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, and ArtsFund. News Media Sponsorship is provided by The Seattle Times. Broadcast Media Sponsorship is provided by Classical KING FM.

Image Credits:
Franz von Stuck. Orpheus (detail), 1891. Oil on gold-ground panel. 21 5/8 x 18 1/2 in. Museum Villa Stuck (acquired with special funds from the Cultural Department of the City of Munich), G 03 1-1. Photo: Wolfgang Pulfer
Franz von Stuck. Orpheus, 1891. Oil on gold-ground panel. 21 5/8 x 18 1/2 in. Museum Villa Stuck (acquired with special funds from the Cultural Department of the City of Munich), G 03 1-1. Photo: Wolfgang Pulfer
Franz von Stuck. Die Sünde (Sin), ca. 1908. Syntonos [tempera] on canvas. 34 7/8 x 21 5/8 in. Frye Art Museum, Charles and Emma Frye Collection, 1952.169.
Franz von Stuck. Lucifer, 1890. Oil on canvas. 63 3/8 x 60 1/16 in. The National Gallery for Foreign Art, Sofia, Bulgaria.
Franz von Stuck. Inferno, 1908. Oil on canvas. 50 9/16 x 82 1/4 in. Mugrabi Collection.
Franz von Stuck. Der Abendstern (Evening Star), before 1912. Oil on canvas. 27 9/16 x 28 3/4 in. Museum Villa Stuck, G 91 1-10. Photo: Wolfgang Pulfer

“A stunning accomplishment . . . . monumental works that have never been exhibited stateside at all, including his 1890 masterpiece Lucifer.”

T.S. Flock, Vanguard Seattle

“The paintings are what the fuss is about… you have to see them in the real.”

Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times

“…I definitely recommend. It's a peek into the 19th century that you won't get anywhere else around here.”

Jen Graves, Slog

“You’ve seen masterpieces like Sisyphus, Inferno, and Lucifer in history books. In the flesh, they burn even brighter and more feverishly.”

Amanda Manitach, City Arts