From Berlin to Broadway: The Ebb Bequest of Modern German and Austrian Drawings

April 20 through September 2, 2007

An extraordinary collection of forty-three early-twentieth-century German and Austrian drawings by some of the leaders of the German expressionist movement and the Vienna Secession is on view in From Berlin to Broadway. The exhibition is drawn from a collection formed by Broadway lyricist Fred Ebb (1928–2004) and includes drawings by Max Beckmann, Egon Schiele, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Oskar Kokoschka, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. In total, twenty-two artists from the period are represented in the Ebb collection, which is shown in its entirety.

Most of the drawings and watercolors date from 1910 to 1925, when expressionism dominated the avant-garde in Germany and Austria. The earliest work in the exhibition is a moving depiction of an old peasant woman by Paula Modersohn-Becker (ca. 1899). At the other end of the chronological span of the exhibition, the most recent work is a drawing created by Max Beckmann (1947) soon after his arrival in the United States, where he would spend the last three years of his life.

A particular strength of the Ebb collection is its large number of portraits, including a powerful self-portrait of Erich Heckel in his studio (1912) and another by Schiele (1910) in which the disembodied head of the artist, with typically tormented features, seems to be floating in a dramatic, spare composition. The largest number of works by a single artist in the Ebb bequest is the eight drawings by Schiele, four of which are portraits.

A fully illustrated catalog documents the entire bequest and includes reminiscences of Fred Ebb by John Kander and an introduction by Isabelle Dervaux, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings, the Morgan Library & Museum.