On Life and Surviving
The Threepenny Opera and the Art of its Time
21 May to 23 October 2022
The exhibition On Life and Surviving presents a selection of graphic works from the collection of the Kunsthalle zu Kiel in which the artists focus on issues like poverty, infirmity, prostitution and crime in the Weimar Republic. The exhibition’s starting point is the 10 Woodcuts for the Songs of The Threepenny Opera by Hella Guth (1908–1992). In the prints, the artist honours Bertolt Brecht for his “play with music” The Threepenny Opera, first performed in 1928. In the play, which was an unexpected success, Brecht created a biting, critical parody of the social and economic injustice of the time. Characters like the gangster Macheath; Peachum, the beggars’ friend; and the prostitute Low-Dive Jenny, provided the inspiration for Guth’s very detailed woodcuts.
The depth and range of contemporary artists’ engagement with the struggles faced by large swathes of the population can be seen in works by Käthe Kollwitz, Ernst Barlach, Heinrich Ehmsen and Otto Dix, among others.
The graphic holdings of the Kunsthalle zu Kiel are supplemented with photographs and archive materials from the Theatergeschichtliche Sammlung der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel and the Theatermuseums Kiel e.V., giving visitors an insight into the first production at the Kieler Schauspielhaus of The Threepenny Opera, in 1931.