Max Sulzbachner

Kunstmuseum Bale. Photo: TES.

The exhibition shows the works by and artistic development of the Basel artist Max Sulzbachner (1904–1985). Sulzbachner was an ardent admirer of (German) Expressionism and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) in particular, although he never belonged to the inner circle of Kircher and his Davos friends. He got in touch with Expressionism during his stay in Berlin in 1921. He was a member of the artists’ group Rot-Blau in Basel, later Group 1933 (Gruppe 1933). Sulzbachner was multi-talented, he was not just a painter, but also a stage decorator, designer, he made many woodcuts, ceramics, caricatures and book illustrations. Moonlit Nights (Mondnächte) is the title of a series of famous woodcuts he created in 1925, including stylistic references to Edvard Munch (1863-1944) and Kirchner. The museum was fortunate enough to find the original sketchbooks, letters and other writings. This made it possible to reconstruct the origins of these famous woodcuts. he Moonlit Nights highlighted a common expressionist theme based on Fjodor Dostojevsksi’s book Rodion Raskolnikoff, also known as Crime and Punishment (1866). The museum was lucky enough to find the original sketching books, letters and other writings. That enabled the reconstruction of the coming into being of these famous woodcuts.

After 1924 and his stay in Paris he embraced French modernism and surrealism, influenced by, amongst others, Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) and Robert Delaunay (1885-1941). After 1945, until his death, he would remain active in many fields of art, in education, as an advisor and as the creator of many works. He was also A fervent Fasnacht celebrant and painted lanterns, wrote and illustrated “Schnitzelbank” ballads and designed carnival costumes. “Schnitzelbank” ballads are satirical-comical performances during the Fasnacht. The exhibition presents these various artistic periods in a well-documented overview.