CULTURE MAGAZINE

The great seduction – Karl Ernst Osthaus and the beginnings of consumer culture

24.11.2023 - 28.04.2024Kunstmuseen in Krefeld
T
Peter Behrens Poster AEG metal filament lamp/Zirka one watt per candle, 1907 Print: Hollerbaum & Schmidt, Berlin Color litography Kunstmuseen Krefeld Photo: Dirk Rose / Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Peter Behrens – Poster AEG metal filament lamp/Zirka one watt per candle, 1907
Print: Hollerbaum & Schmidt, Berlin Color litography
Kunstmuseen Krefeld Photo: Dirk Rose / Kunstmuseen Krefeld

A treasure trove of consumption

The Kunstmuseen Krefeld are currently presenting an exhibition of great cultural and historical significance that is well worth seeing. Entitled “The Great Seduction. Karl Ernst Osthaus and the beginnings of consumer culture”, this extraordinary exhibition is being held at the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum (KWM). This remarkable cultural event is not only a highlight of the 650th anniversary celebrations of the city of Krefeld, but also marks an important anniversary: the 100th anniversary of the museum itself. The multifaceted exhibition delves deep into the history of consumer culture and sheds light on its close links with the world of art in an exciting way.

Julius Gipkens Poster Kaiser Brikett, 1913 Color litography Print: Hollerbaum & Schmidt, Berlin Kunstmuseen Krefeld Photo: Dirk Rose / Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Julius Gipkens Poster Kaiser Brikett, 1913
Color litography Print: Hollerbaum & Schmidt, Berlin
Kunstmuseen Krefeld Photo: Dirk Rose / Kunstmuseen Krefeld

Karl Ernst Osthaus and his legacy

The visionary collector Karl Ernst Osthaus from Hagen is at the centre of the exhibition. A century ago, he founded the Deutsches Museum für Kunst in Handel und Gewerbe (DM), one of the first design collections in the world. The collection comprises an impressive range of exhibits, including posters, advertising graphics, typography, photographs, wallpaper, fabrics, everyday objects and luxury items. Today, it forms the core of the Krefeld museum collection in the field of applied art. Osthaus worked closely with leading artists of his time such as Henry van de Velde, Walter Gropius and Peter Behrens. Together they contributed to an impressive collection of advertising graphics and everyday products, which laid the foundations for the Bauhaus in the 1920s.

Hans Rudi Erdt
Poster Automobile/Opel, 1911
Print: Hollerbaum & Schmidt, Berlin
Color litography
Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Photo: Dirk Rose / Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Hans Rudi Erdt Poster Automobile/Opel, 1911
Print: Hollerbaum & Schmidt, Berlin Color litography
Kunstmuseen Krefeld Photo: Dirk Rose / Kunstmuseen Krefeld

Merging aesthetics and business

The exhibition sheds light on the fusion of aesthetic ideals and economic goals at the beginning of the 20th century. With the advent of industrial mass production, not only the manufacture of products changed, but also their presentation. Artfully designed shop windows and splendid department stores became the scenes of everyday urban life, and advertising became increasingly present in public spaces. This development led to the emergence of corporate identity and modern advertising strategies. Artists became commercial artists and product designers who developed a new design language for modern everyday life. These changes, which are vividly presented in the exhibition, illustrate the significance of the unity of art and life that Osthaus sought to achieve.

Alfred Messel
Warenhaus Wertheim, Berlin, 1896/1905
First construction phase, atrium
Photography made by the Institute Dr. Franz Stoedtner
Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Photo: Dirk Rose / Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Alfred Messel Warenhaus Wertheim, Berlin, 1896/1905
First construction phase, atrium Photography made by the Institute Dr. Franz Stoedtner
Kunstmuseen Krefeld Photo: Dirk Rose / Kunstmuseen Krefeld

Impulses for the present and the future

The exhibition “The Great Seduction” is not only a journey into the past, but also encourages us to reflect on the significance of consumer culture for our society today. It shows that timeless questions such as the role of art and design in everyday life, the importance of “good taste” and “proper consumption” as well as the sustainable integration of museums into society are as relevant as ever. The exhibition spans an inspiring arc between past and present and encourages visitors to look at their own collection with new eyes and link it to current issues. Overall, the exhibition offers a deep insight into consumer culture and its close connection to art and builds an exciting bridge between the eras.

Further information

The exhibition “The great seduction. Karl Ernst Osthaus and the beginnings of consumer culture” on the website of the Kunstmuseen Krefeld.

Book cover: “The Grand Seduction. Karl Ernst Osthaus and the Beginnings of Consumer Culture”
Photo: Wienand Verlag

Exhibition book

The book accompanying the exhibition “The Great Seduction: Karl Ernst Osthaus and the Beginnings of Consumer Culture” at the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Krefeld makes the unique collection of the Deutsches Museum für Kunst in Handel und Gewerbe (DM) accessible. Curated by Karl Ernst Osthaus between 1909 and 1919, the collection offers a fascinating insight into the art and design of the early 20th century. The book, published by Wienand Verlag, sheds light on the historical significance of the collection for consumer culture and the fusion of art and everyday life at the time.

TitleThe Grand Seduction. Karl Ernst Osthaus and the Beginnings of Consumer Culture
EditorsMagdalena Holzhey, Ina Ewers-Schultz, Katia Baudin
AuthorsMagdalena Holzhey, Ina Ewers-Schultz, Katia Baudin, Gerda Breuer, Renate Flagmeier, Reinhold Happel, Christiane Lamberty, Daniel Reynolds, Robin Schuldenfrei, Birgit Schulte, Rainer Stamm, Karoline Urbitzek
PublisherWienand Verlag
CoverFolded brochure
Pages368
LanguageEnglish
Dimensions17 x 24 cm
ISBN978-3-86832-766-3
Price36 €

Further information on the book “The Grand Seduction. Karl Ernst Osthaus and the Beginnings of Consumer Culture” (Advertisment) on the Wienand Verlag website.

CULTURE MAGAZINE
Consent Management Platform by Real Cookie Banner