DEPTH LIGHT HANGING IN THE SHADES Expressionist Reverse Glass Painting

Gerhard Richter – Aladin  2010

The more fragile the glass, the more astonishing the deep fire of the expressionists’ colours in reverse glass painting.

Depth light” (Tiefenlicht) is a comprehensive exhibition dedicated to 20th and 21st century expressionist painters by Museum Penzberg – the Campendonk Collection. A game of powerful luminosity, magical colour nuances and transparent shapes will be activated for visitors from 23 September 2017 through 7 January 2018. The unlocked radiance of Expressionism’s treasure chest might have anticipated the nowadays light boxes.

H. Campendonk –  Fairy Tales 1919-1921  – Photo credit Simone Betz


Reverse glass painting incited modern (August Macke, Erich Buchholz, Carlos Mense, Ida Kerkovius, Walter Dexel) and contemporary (Gerhard Richter, Florian L. Arnold, Juschi Bannaski, Gabriela Gerosa, Thilo Westermann) painters to conduct free, playful experiments and reach high technical perfection.  Stylistically they distance themselves from the traditional techniques.

The intimate connection among the glass, fixed colour and light scintillating in a special manner generates ambivalences: surface sheen and transparency, reflexes and light refraction.

Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Expressionism


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Heinrich Campendonk developed this painting technique his entire life and finally became a master of sophisticated variations. He turned glass entirely into his individual expression medium. Campendonk erased some of the colour layers and painted again further layers for catching light in images. The colours are not only next to one another, but they also lie in veils and combine themselves in almost tactile structured surfaces and in ecstatic luminous tones.

The artist’s starting point for this art is 1911 – the moment he became part of the Blauer Reiter circle in Bavaria.  Differently from his colleagues Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky or August Macke, he devoted himself to reverse glass painting even in his late work from the beginning of the 50s. Museum Penzberg showcased Heinrich Campendonk’s reverse glass painting for the first time in February – May 2017. An extended exhibition runs until 7 January 2018.

Heinrich Campendonk Gallery


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In reverse glass painting, the glass pane is painted on the backside and turned after completion: the painted side and the obverse are therefore, not identical. This is why the picture has to be created inversely. The unique work steps happen exactly the other way compared to the canvas painting technique. During the painting process, the artist sees only the back side.

Museum Penzberg – the Collection Campendonk pursues its reverse glass painting researches in a 3-year project focused on Modern Classicism 1905 – 1955 (half a million Euro financing is provided by the Volkswagen Foundation).

A parallel exhibition on reverse glass painting will open in MuSeen Landschaft Expressionismus (Bernried, Kochel, Murnau) under the motto “The Blue Land behind the Glass”.  All these exhibitions accompany the 10th International Conference on Reverse Glass Painting organised by Museum Penzberg on 13-14 October 2017.