20 July 2024, 3 pm

Thomas Mann House
Skruzdynės g. 17, Nida

Lecture by Lisa Marei Schmidt, Director of the Brücke Museum in Berlin
Moderated by Egija Inzule, Director of Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts

The lecture is organised in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Lithuania and Nida Art Colony of the Vilnius Academy of Arts for the 28th International Thomas Mann Festival. It will be held in German with simultaneous translation into Lithuanian. 

The Brücke artists discovered ‘Nidden’ and loved working there due to its remoteness, the unique landscape, the expressive colours of the sky over the Baltic Sea, the dunes, and the lagoon. They were drawn to the notion of ‘untouched space’, a popular subject among European painters in the late 19th and early 20th century seeking motives in the outskirts of urban European centres and overseas.

Max Pechstein, in particular, spent many summer months in Nida, along with other artists gathering at the Blode Hotel. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff created some of his most important works on the Curonian Spit in the summer of 1913. This concentration of artists in Nida from Germany (mainly Prussia and East Prussia) during that time period gave rise to the term ‘Nida Art Colony’. The name was later adopted and carried on by the subdivision of Vilnius Academy of Arts, established in 2011.

In their paintings, the nature of the Curonian Spit, including the Baltic Sea coastlines, the lagoon, as well as its inhabitants with their traditions and way of life, are approached as motifs, as subjects for study to be transformed into works of expressionist art. Some of these works are now in the Brücke Museum in Berlin. The museum is dedicated to the Brücke artists and has one of the most important collections of German expressionism. It is the only museum in the world with this focus.

To engage a new generation of audiences, the museum, under the leadership of Lisa Marei Schmidt, has undertaken a decolonial approach to address and rectify the colonial legacies embedded within the collection. This involves a critical re-examination of the collection, formulating new questions and uncovering new perspectives on the meaning of the works. 

This critical and scientific contextualisation of the historical works led to an invigorating diversification and rejuvenation of the audience and the museum’s research. The Brücke Museum was named Museum of the Year by the German art critics association AICA this year, the highest award for a museum in Germany.

Funded by the Goethe-Institut Lithuania, Lithuanian Council for Culture and Neringa Municipality.