The urbanist system of reference which links the metropolis of French Impressionism with the metropolis of German Expressionism, serves as the pivot of the exhibition in the Schirn curated by Karin Sagner, Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, and Matthias Ulrich.

The show pursues the urban traces from Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s (1809–1891) sustained interventions in Paris to the comprehensive redevelopment of Berlin under James Hobrecht (1825–1902) and highlights their impact on the fine arts. The comparison between Paris and Berlin reveals how the fascination and curiosity characteristic of the way Impressionist painters like Claude Monet or Camille Pissarro recorded the urban citizens’ anonymity and, doing so, transferred the genre of landscape painting into the urban sphere, gave way to a horror of society in early 20th-century German Expressionism where the city – especially in works by George Grosz or Ludwig Meidner – presented itself as almost perverted and transformed into a living creature, a wild beast of prey.

Comprising nearly 300 paintings, photographs, city maps, graphic works, posters, and films, the four chapters of the exhibition – “Boulevard and Street,” “Urban Mise-en-Scènes,” “Mobility and Technology,” “Commercialism, Spectacle, Turmoil” – unfold a vast panorama of social, mainly bourgeois life in the two metropolises.


Edited by Max Hollein, Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Karin Sagner, Matthias Ulrich. With a preface by Max Hollein and essays by Matthias A. Amann, Dominik Bartmann, Richard R. Bretell, Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Caroline Mathieu, Karin Sagner, Harald R. Stühlinger, and Matthias Ulrich. German/English, 322 pages, 240 illustrations, Hirmer Verlag, Munich, ISBN: 3-7774-3175-3/ISBN-13: 978-3-7774-3175-8.