Ludwig Meidner

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Meidner (* 18th April 1884 in Bern city on the pasture ( Silesia ); † 14. May 1966 in Darmstadt ) was a German painter of Expressionism and poet and graphic artist .

Ludwig Meidner - stamp signature from estate

Live and act

After studying at the Breslau Art Academy, Ludwig Meidner moved to Berlin from 1903 to 1905 , where he took etching lessons in Herrmann Struck's studio . From 1906 to 1907 he attended the Académie Julian and the Atelier Cormon in Paris. Here he discovered the art of Picasso , Gauguin and Ensor and made friends with Amedeo Modigliani . In 1912 he founded the group Die Pathetiker with Richard Janthur and Jakob Steinhardt . After an exhibition in Herwarth Walden's “Der Sturm” gallery , the group disbanded that same year. In Berlin, Meidner worked on various expressionist magazines, including Der Sturm , Die Aktion , Die Weißen Blätter and Der Feuerreiter .

In Meidner's early work, influences of impressionism and post-impressionism can be seen. From 1912, his expressive, dynamic style is characterized by cubism and futurism. His main theme at the time was hectic city life, which he captured in paintings, dynamic drawings and graphics (such as the folder Streets and Cafes ). Meidner wrote: “Let's paint the obvious, our city-world! the tumultuous streets, the elegance of iron suspension bridges, the gasometers hanging in white cloud mountains, the roaring colors of the buses and express train locomotives, the swaying telephone wires (aren't they like singing?), the harlequinades of the advertising pillars, and then the night. .. the big city night .. "

From 1912 onwards, disaster scenarios also emerged: burning cities with comets and pillars of fire in the sky, populated by panicked crowds. These apocalyptic landscapes were (not only) later interpreted by Meidner as premonitions of the First World War . In the fall of 1913 Meidner met the poet Ernst Wilhelm Lotz , with whom he moved into a studio in Dresden in April 1914. In 1914 Meidner's portfolio war was created , which, while there was still general euphoria in Germany, already dealt critically with the war in gloomy pictures. Lotz's early war death meant a great loss for Meidner.

Meidner did his military service as an interpreter in a POW camp from 1916 to 1918. This is also where his two volumes of expressionist, hymn-like prose came into being: Im Nacken das Sternemeer and Septemberschrei . The cover drawing by Meidner of the book The Political Poet by Walter Hasenclever , published by Rowohlt in 1919, became famous . After a brief engagement in revolutionary artist groups such as the Novembergruppe , Meidner turned intensely to religious topics in the 1920s. The latent preoccupation with religion (such as the theme of the Last Judgment in the Apocalyptic Landscapes ) increasingly turned into a conscious religious search for meaning in the medium of art. The search for his religious identity resulted in depictions in self-portraits of Jewish prophets and religious zealots . From the mid-1920s, when Meidner oriented his life strictly according to the religious rules of Judaism , he drew many biblical scenes and ideal portraits of pious Jews in prayer. Although his style has now become increasingly naturalistic, there is still a certain drama and expressive tension in his paintings.

Meidner was also an important portraitist who captured many intellectuals, especially writers, of the Weimar Republic in psychologically intense portraits. In addition to portraits in oil painting, Meidner created numerous portrait etchings , especially between 1914 and 1928 . Those portrayed include the poets Johannes R. Becher , Max Herrmann-Neiße , Johannes Baader and Paul Zech , the painters Conrad Felixmüller and Otto Th. W. Stein , the actors Eugen Klöpfer and Lotte Lenya , the art critics Paul Westheim and Ernst Cohn-Wiener , the pianist Walter Kaempfer, the art dealer Israel Ber Neumann or the Rabbi Leo Baeck .

Between 1927 - the year of his marriage - and 1932 Meidner largely retired as a visual artist and wrote numerous feature articles, which appeared mainly in the Kunstblatt , the Berliner Börsen-Courier and the Berliner Tageblatt .

After 1933, Meidner was banned from painting and exhibiting in National Socialist Germany. A self-portrait of him was shown in the exhibition “Degenerate Art” . In order to escape the growing anti-Semitic pressure, he accepted a position as a drawing teacher at the Jawne Jewish High School in Cologne in 1935 . In Theodor Fritsch's propaganda manual of the Jewish question , he was branded in 1936 as a “leading art Jew”. In 1939 Meidner emigrated to London, where he lived under the most difficult material circumstances. 1940–1941 he was in various internment camps as an “ enemy foreigner ”. In exile in London, alongside watercolors and drawings with a religious theme, he also created a cycle of pictures on the persecution of the Jews and a series of humorous scenes and sheets that show a grotesque world theater.

Since Meidner could not gain a foothold in London as an artist, he returned to Germany in 1953. He missed Germany and wrote to a friend: “I don't know whether Germany can still be the place where Jews can exist and work in greater numbers. But I myself can only live where one speaks and writes German; I still love it, there is nothing to be done. ”After a stay in the Jewish old people's home in Frankfurt am Main, he moved into a studio in Hofheim am Taunus in the Marxheim district through the mediation of the gallery owner Hanna Bekker vom Rath . In 1963 he moved to Darmstadt, where he spent the last years of his life. Ludwig Meidner was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Darmstadt.

His wife was the graphic artist and painter Else Meidner . At first she was his student, but always insisted on her artistic independence. They married in 1927 and had their son David two years later. Unlike her husband, Else Meidner did not want to return to Germany and stayed in London.

In contrast to other Expressionist artists, such as the painters of the Brücke or the Blauer Reiters , Meidner was rediscovered late. Since the late 1980s, when his works (also on the art market) regained international attention, he has been considered one of the main representatives of urban expressionism. Ludwig Meidner was a member of the German Association of Artists .

His artistic estate is looked after in the Ludwig Meidner archive in the Jewish Museum Frankfurt , which also manages Meidner's artistic copyrights. The Ludwig Meidner Society in Frankfurt am Main, founded in 1990, has been working on a catalog raisonné of Meidner's paintings since 2010. The written legacy has been kept in the Darmstadt City Archives since 1996 and is gradually being made available to the public.

Exhibitions (selection)

Works (selection)


The sea of ​​stars in the neck (1918)
  • Lothar Brieger : Ludwig Meidner: With a self-biography of the artist. Klinkhardt & Biermann, Leipzig 1919.


  • The fire rider. Leaves for Poetry and Criticism , 2nd year (special issue), August 1923, Berlin. (The edition was dedicated to Ludwig Meidner. Texts by and about him by Oskar Walzel , Fred von Zollikofer , Hugo Marcus , Johannes R. Becher , Willi Wolfradt , Heinrich Eduard Jacob and Fritz Gottfurcht as well as four text contributions and two works of art - including a self-portrait - von Meidner.)
  • Thomas Grochowiak : Ludwig Meidner. Recklinghausen 1966.
  • Gerhard Leistner: Idea and Reality. Content and significance of urban expressionism in Germany, presented in the work of Ludwig Meidner (= Europäische Hochschulschriften , Series XXVIII, Volume 66). Lang, Frankfurt am Main / Bern / New York 1986, ISBN 3-8204-8244-X . (Dissertation University of Würzburg 1985.)
  • Jörg Deuter:  Meidner, Ludwig. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 16, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-428-00197-4 , pp. 640-642 ( digitized version ).
  • Carol S. Eliel (Ed.): Ludwig Meidner. Apocalyptic landscapes. Exhibition catalog. Berlinische Galerie, Berlin 1990.
  • Ludwig Meidner. Draftsman, painter, man of letters 1884–1966. Exhibition catalog. Institute Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, arr. by Gerda Breuer and Ines Wagemann, two volumes. Hatje, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-7757-0357-8 . (This also includes an extensive selection of, in part, previously unpublished writings by Ludwig Meidner and a bibliography.)
  • Meidner, Ludwig. In: Hans Vollmer (Hrsg.): General Lexicon of Fine Artists of the XX. Century. Third volume (K-P). EA Seemann, Leipzig 1999 (study edition), ISBN 3-363-00730-2 , p. 364.
  • Ljuba Berankova, Erik Riedel (Ed.): Apocalypse and Revelation. Religious themes in the work of Ludwig Meidner. ( Series of publications by the Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main, vol. 5). Sigmaringen 1996.
  • Erik Riedel, Mirjam Wenzel (Eds.): Ludwig Meidner. Expressionism, Ecstasy, Exile / Expressionism, Ecstasy, Exile . Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-7861-2784-0 . (German and English)
  • Tobias Natter (ed.): The sea of ​​stars in the neck. Ludwig Meidner - A German Expressionist. Exhibition catalog. Jewish Museum Vienna 2001
  • Georg Heuberger (ed.): Ludwig and Else Meidner. Exhibition catalog. Jewish Museum Frankfurt, Ben Uri Gallery London. Frankfurt am Main 2002.
  • Wolfgang Maier-Preusker: Book and portfolio works with graphics of German Expressionism. Exhibition catalog for the Hanseatic City of Wismar. Vienna 2006, ISBN 3-900208-37-9 .
  • Dorle Meyer: dual talent in expressionism. On the relationship between art and literature in Oskar Kokoschka and Ludwig Meidner. Göttinger Universitätsverlag, Göttingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-86395-107-8 . online version (PDF; 28.9 MB)
  • Gerd Presler, Erik Riedel: Ludwig Meidner. Catalog raisonné of his sketchbooks. (German / English.) Prestel, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-7913-5302-9 .
  • Catalog for the exhibition Horcher in die Zeit - Ludwig Meidner in Exile. Publisher: Museum Giersch of the Goethe University , Frankfurt am Main. Hirmer, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-7774-2554-2 (German); ISBN 978-3-7774-2586-3 (English)
  • A directory of the more recent literature on Ludwig Meidner (from 1991) can be found on the website of the Ludwig Meidner Archive of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt at

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ludwig Meidner: The Young Modigliani. Some memories. In: Burlington Magazine, Vol LXXXII, 1943, pp. 87-91.
  2. Ludwig Meidner: Instructions for painting big city pictures. In: Art and Artists, XII. Vol., H. 6, Berlin 1914, pp. 312-314.
  3. Bernd-Ulrich Hergemöller : Man for man. Pp. 502/503.
  4. Septemberschrei ( Memento of the original dated November 6, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Helmut Herbst: Profiled. To the Marbach Tucholsky exhibition. In: Karl H. Pressler (Ed.): From the Antiquariat. Volume 8, 1990 (= Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel - Frankfurter Ausgabe. No. 70, August 31, 1990), pp. A 334 - A 340, here: p. A 338.
  6. Ludwig Meidner: Defense of the Rollmops. Collected feature pages 1927–1932. Schöffling, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 978-3-89561-152-0 .
  7. ^ Ernst Klee : The culture lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945 (= The time of National Socialism. Vol. 17153). Completely revised edition. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-596-17153-8 , p. 362.
  8. Thomas Grochowiak: Ludwig Meidner. Bongers, Recklinghausen 1966.
  9. Ordinary members of the German Association of Artists since it was founded in 1903 / Meidner, Ludwig ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (accessed on November 13, 2015)
  10. ^ Ludwig Meidner archive in the Jewish Museum Frankfurt
  11. StadtA DA inventory 45/67 Meidner. Retrieved February 1, 2019 .
  12. An art that never calmed down. In: FAZ of May 30, 2016, p. B3.
  13. Burying the battle ax in the realm of the arts. In: FAZ of August 30, 2016, p. 34.

Web links