Current Exhibition


Artist Couple in the Modern Movement 
Emil Maetzel and Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen

23 November 2018 – 24 March 2019


Emil Maetzel (1877-1955) and Dorothea Maetzel Johannsen (1886-1930) were important representatives of the artistic avant-garde in Hamburg in the first years of the Weimar Republic when the spirit of renewal resounded through German society. With the founding of the Hamburg Secession in 1919, the city experienced a second important phase of Expressionism, one in which the Maetzels played a decisive role. 


Emil Maetzel studied architecture and was a self-taught painter. Although Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen attended drawing school, she too was not professionally trained as an artist. In Berlin, where Emil Maetzel was stationed during the First World War, the couple benefited from opportunities to visit important exhibitions such as the Berlin Secession and Herwarth Walden's "Der Sturm" Gallery. A decisive event for the artists was their discovery of African art, which they began to collect and whose figures they integrated into their works.

Emil Maetzel, Porträt Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen, 1915, Holzschnitt, Sammlung Tobeler (Foto: Michael Hensel)
Dorothea Maetzel Johannsen, Emil Maetzel mit Pelzmütze, um 1914, Linolschnitt, Sammlung Tobeler (Foto: Michael Hensel)
Emil Maetzel, Badende am Waldsee, 1915, Linolschnitt koloriert, Sammlung Hamburger Sparkasse im Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg (Foto: Hans-Peter Zahn)

1919 to 1923 were the years of Hamburg's first artist festivals, which ignited a veritable firework of racy performances by dancers, singers and actors and provided the outlet for a more permissive societal cohesion. The festivities helped bring staid citizens together with members of the artistic Bohème. The ever exotic settings and costumes were the results of the fantasy of artists, among whom Emil Maetzel played a prominent role as painter. Artistic freedom found its intellectual expression in the emancipation of living styles from conventional ideas of morality.

The Maetzels followed diverging artistic paths in the 1920s. With visits to Paris (1925) and Gotland (1929) Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen underlined her increasing independence before she died of heart problems in 1930 at the age of only 44. Emil survived her by 25 years. In 1933 he was dismissed from the civil service by the National Socialists. In his house in Volksdorf he then spent lonely years, although taking advantage of the opportunity for painting excursions in northern Germany. After 1945 he started out on a new and voluminous productive phase.

Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen, Das kranke Mädchen, 1919, Öl auf Leinwand, Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen Schloss Gottorf, Dauerleihgabe aus Privatbesitz (Foto: Sammlung Maetzel-Erben)
Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen, Der rote Mond, um 1920, Öl auf Holz, Sammlung Tobeler (Foto: Michael Hensel)
Emil Maetzel. Afrikanisches Stillleben mit Benin-Tierplastik und Flasche, 1922, Öl auf Malpappe, Sammlung Tobeler (Foto: Michael Hensel)

With more than 150 paintings, sculptures, print graphics, and photos, the Exhibition, which was prepared and shown for the first time in 2017 by the Kunstmuseum Stade, gives visitors the most comprehensive look to date at both the work of this artist couple and a momentous chapter in Hamburg's Expressionism. The show is based on the holdings of Hamburg collector Tim Tobeler who has explored the work of Emil Maetzel and Dorothea Maetzel-Johansen for many years. Besides the artistic estate of the Maetzel family, the Tobeler collection boasts the largest holding of works by the artist couple. The show in the August Macke House has been supplemented by additional important loans from public and private collections, as well as from the artistic estate of the Maetzel family.

Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen, Frauen am Tisch, 1920, Öl auf Malkarton, Privatbesitz (Foto: Ketter-Kunst, München)
Emil Maetzel, Sitzende, sinnende Frau, um 1926, Steinguss, Sammlung Tobeler (Foto: Michael Hensel)
Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen, Überredung, 1919, Öl auf Rupfen, Sammlung Tim Tobeler (Foto: Michael Hensel)

A catalogue is available at the Exhibition.

Sponsors of the exhibition: