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Handstand

Accession Number
1956/1.20

Title
Handstand

Artist(s)
Erich Heckel

Artist Nationality
German (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1916

Medium & Support
lithograph on paper

Dimensions
11 1/8 in x 7 7/8 in (28.3 cm x 20 cm);22 1/8 in x 18 1/8 in (56.2 cm x 46.04 cm);16 9/16 in x 12 1/2 in (42.1 cm x 31.8 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Along with fellow members of Die Brüke (The Bridge) Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Erich Heckel often turned to images of the circus and cabaret for his illustrations of working class, non-bourgeoisie society. Following two years spent at the lakeside focusing upon nudes at rest and in harmony with nature, Heckel’s artistic focus turned to these theatrical images.
Handstand focuses upon a solitary acrobatic performer on stage. The contorted figure is dwarfed by the monstrous shadow it casts upon the stage wall. The head of a conductor leading a brass band is visible in the foreground, suggesting that the acrobat is performing before an audience. Along either side of the stage we glimpse columns composed of primitive masks — visual allusions to the Expressionists’ interest in the art of Oceania and the Americas.

Subject matter
Along with fellow members of The Bridge Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Erich Heckel often turned to images of the circus and cabaret as illustrations of working class, non-bourgeoisie society. Following his two years spent in the lakeside focusing upon nudes at rest and in harmony with nature, Heckel’s artistic focus turned to these theatrical images.
Handstand focuses upon a solitary acrobatic performer on stage. The contorted figure is dwarfed by its monstrous shadow cast upon the stage wall. The head of a conductor leading a brass band is visible in the foreground suggesting that the acrobat is performing before an audience. Along either side of the stage we glimpse columns composed of primitive masks – visual allusions to the Expressionists interest in art of Oceania and the Americas.

Physical Description
Print featuring a stage with a figure of a man with his feet touching his head while doing a handstand on a small table flanked by two chairs. His large shadow is cast on the wall behind him. The head and hands of a conductor are visible in the lower right.

Primary Object Classification
Print

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Entertainers
Expressionism
Expressionist (style)
Surrealism
abstraction
acrobats
crowds
faces
hand
males
modern and contemporary art
performing artists
screen
shadows
stages (performance spaces)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved