Between «Brücke» and «Blauer Reiter». Hanna Bekker vom Rath, a pioneer of modernism

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Amorous couple, about 1908 34.2 X 44.2 Cm © Courtesy of The Museum Wiesbaden
Between «Brücke» and «Blauer Reiter». Hanna Bekker vom Rath, a pioneer of modernism

Monument im Fruchtland 3
3006 Bern
November 22nd, 2013 - February 23rd, 2014

+ 41 (0)31 359 01 01
Tue – Sun 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


As a courageous representative of the artists condemned as ‘degenerate’ under the Nazis, Hanna Bekker vom Rath helped to ensure that German Expressionism regained its international significance after the Second World War.

The gallery-owner, painter and patron Hanna Bekker vom Rath (1893-1983) was friends with important artists such as Ludwig Meidner, Alexej von Jawlensky, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Emy Roeder. She bought their works, invited the painters to her legendary Blue House in Hofheim near Wiesbaden and introduced them to collectors. During the Nazi era she organised secret exhibitions in her Berlin studio. Her initially spontaneous support for individual artists became a lasting mission. 

A reliable friend 
As the daughter of a well-to-do family, Hanna Bekker vom Rath discovered her love of art early on, took painting and drawing lessons and, through her husband Paul Bekker, also met many artists from the worlds of music, literature and theatre. On a number of occasions Karl Schmidt-Rotluff, one of the most important representatives of Expressionism and a founding member of the artists’ association Die Brücke, spent several weeks painting in Hofheim. After the end of the Second World War, in 1947 she founded the Frankfurt Kunstkabinett Hanna Bekker vom Rath. Her circle of artists and friends now included Ernst Wilhelm Nay and Willi Baumeister. As a successful operator of the Frankfurt Kunstkabinett, Hanna Bekker vom Rath sold work to many major museums and, in 1962-63, also travelled with exhibitions on behalf of the cultural department of the German Foreign Office. 

The flourishing of modern art in the second half of the century 
The collection of Hanna Bekker vom Rath reflects her interest in Expressionism as existentially moving art. She also had a special connection with Paul Klee. As early as 1923 she bought one of his works, Runner (hooker-boxer), 1920, 25 in the gallery, from Klee’s art dealer Hans Goltz in Munich. Probably via Ida Kerkovius, who took lessons with Klee, among others, at the Weimar Bauhaus, Bekker got to know the artist personally. She visited him in Dessau and, after his involuntary return to Switzerland, in Bern in the summer of 1935. 

The exhibition was developed in cooperation with Wiesbaden Museum and brings together the most important paintings from the legacy of the collector and gallery-owner Hanna Bekker vom Rath with works by such artists as Max Beckmann, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Alexej Jawlensky, Paul Klee, Kurt Schwitters, Alberto Giacometti, Käthe Kollwitz and Willi Baumeister.