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First retrospective: Louise Stomps. Natur Gestalten Skulpturen 1928–1988 | Berlinische Galerie – 15.10.2021-17.01.2022

Editors’ Choice

Photo: Anonymous, Louise Stomps and „Die Scheue“, Berlin 1946 © Louise Stomps Estate.

THE VERBORGENE MUSEUM is a guest at the Berlinische Galerie and presents the first retrospective of the sculptor Louise Stomps (1900-1988). With around 90 sculptures, the exhibition provides an insight into the life’s work of this extraordinary artist. Her bronze figures “Pilger”, “Einsamer” and “Gilgamesh”, which are over three metres high and were donated to the Berlinische Galerie by Louise Stomps’ heirs, can also be seen in the staircase hall for the first time.

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Louise Stomps and her sculpture ” Der Ruf”, 1977, pear wood, H-430 cm, © Louise Stomps estate. The sculpture “The Call” was completely destroyed in the fire of the Herz-Jesu-Kirche in Munich-Neuhausen in 1994.

Louise Stomps hat ein imposantes Werk hinterlassen, das nach ihrem Tod jedoch nur selten ausgestellt wurde. Menschliches Leid und die schutzlose Kreatur sind für die Berliner Bildhauerin ein Leben lang Inspiration. Sie stehen im Mittelpunkt ihres bildnerischen Schaffens, das zwischen den ausklingenden 1920er und den späten 1980er Jahren entstand.

„Be open to the new and take modern art in its indescribable freshness and detachment as a compass for a new time.“

Louise Stomps

Stomps recorded his first successes at the beginning of the 1930s. At a time before the völkisch cultural politics of National Socialism destroyed the constructively experimental climate of the Weimar years from 1933 onwards. Under her motto “be open to the new and take modern art in its indescribable freshness and detachment as a compass for a new time”, she continued her sculptural activity after the Second World War. Her abstract figurations always remain related to the human being.

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Gerda Schimpf, Louise Stomps at studio in Schillerstraße 21, Berlin 1948, Berlinische Galerie, Photo: Anja Elisabeth Witte, © Gerda Schimpf Fotoarchiv

Louise Stomps consistently developed her artistic signature until well into the 1980s. The aim of the exhibition is to establish this almost forgotten position as an independent contribution to art studies.

The work

Human suffering and the defenceless creature have been a lifelong inspiration for the Berlin sculptor Louise Stomps’ artistic creativity. They are at the centre of her work, which was created between the fading 1920s and the late 1980s. For five decades, the sculptor completed the artistic process from the classical body image to highly abstracted figuration; in the process, she successively developed her own significant style.

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Exhibition view „Louise Stomps. Natur Gestalten – Skulpturen 1928-1988“, Foto: © Harry Schnitger

Although Louise Stomps had been drawing and modelling intensively since 1918, it was not until ten years later, after her divorce from her husband, that she devoted herself entirely to the practice of art as the mother of two daughters. She was not discouraged by the widespread prejudice that women artists were better off in the arts and crafts sector, and between 1928 and 1932 she took classes in the evening nude class of the “Vereinigte Staatsschulen für freie und angewandte Künste” (United State Schools for Liberal and Applied Arts) in Berlin; in addition, she trained with Milly Steger (1881-1948) in the sculpture class of the “Verein der Berliner Künstlerinnen” (Association of Berlin Women Artists).

As a result of bombing raids on her studio during the Second World War, only a few of her works from the 1930s have survived, for example “Das Paar” (“The Couple”) in oak (1937), a pair of lovers kneeling next to each other in a deep bond, still completely committed to the realistic image of man. These early beginnings of her artistic imagery could not be reconciled with the prevailing conception of art under National Socialism, so she withdrew into inner emigration.

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Louise Stomps, Das Paar I, 1937, Oak, H – 45 cm, Berlinische Galerie © Louise Stomps Estate

In October 1945, Louise Stomps participated alongside Renée Sintenis, Hans Uhlmann, Gustav Seitz, Paul Dierkes and Karl Hartung, among others, in the first exhibition “Sculpture and Sculpture Drawing” at the Gerd Rosen Gallery in Berlin at Kurfürstendamm 215.

After the shocks she experienced in her own body during the Second World War, figural abstraction offered Louise Stomps, as it did for many of her colleagues, the only way to create artistic form: from the 1950s onwards, she created figures with threatening, dismissive or fear-provoking gestures, such as “Mourners” (1951), “The Stranger” (1947), “Common Lament” (1948) or “Hiroshima” (1960), a direct allusion to the political events.

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Louise Stomps, Nachdenkende, 1946/47, Marble, 31 x 19 x 29 cm, Hanna Bekker vom Rath Estate, Photo: Ed Restle © Louise Stomps Estate

Louise Stomp’s preference for wood as a material for her “Nature Forms” was presumably triggered by a turning point in her life when she moved from Berlin to the Bavarian town of Rechtmehring near Wasserburg in the Inn valley in 1960 and moved into an old Kumpfmühle dating from the 15th century. Here she was inspired by nature as the original source of all living things, by the woods of beech, pine, oak, Inn oak, apple, acacia, nut, pear and many more, here she consistently developed her formal language of a so-called figural abstraction.

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Louise Stomps, Gabriel, 1960, Acacia, H – 70 cm, Private property, Photo: Friedhelm Hoffmann, © Louise Stomps Estate

In the 1960s, her slender figures, the “Ascetic” (1963) or the “Pilgrim” (1966), became three metres high, and in 1980, at 3.20 metres, she created “Gilgamesh”, who, according to the legend, is one-third human and two-thirds divine in his quest for immortality.

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Exhibition view „Louise Stomps. Natur Gestalten – Skulpturen 1928-1988“, Photo: © Harry Schnitger


Adele Louise Sophie Stomps is born in Berlin on 5 October, the daughter of the lawyer Otto Stomps and his wife Else Stomps, née Kempff.
Graduates from the Elisabeth Lyceum in Lichterfelde.
First animal sculptures. Attends a girls’ boarding school in Feldafing in Bavaria.
Marries the graduate engineer Hans Becker. 1921 Birth of daughter Inge; 1922 birth of daughter Annemarie.
Divorce and move into the parental home, Teichstr. 10 in Berlin-Zehlendorf.
Studies at the Vereinigte Staatsschulen für freie und angewandte Kunst Berlin. Attends Milly Steger’s sculpture class at the Verein der Künstlerinnen zu Berlin.
First own studio. Love affair and lifelong friendship with the sculptress Lidy von Lüttwitz.
Joins the Reich Chamber of Culture to be able to work as a sculptress.
In protest against the exclusion of Käthe Kollwitz and Ernst Barlach from the Academy exhibition, she no longer exhibits.
Visits the World Exhibition in Paris.
Meets the patron and art dealer Hanna Bekker vom Rath.
Destruction of studio and flat by bombing.
1945 imprisoned in Russia for six weeks on espionage charges.
Participates in the 3rd exhibition of the Rosen Gallery in Berlin on Kurfürstendamm.
Participates in the “1st German Art Exhibition of the Central Administration for National Education in the Soviet Occupation Zone” in the Zeughaus in Berlin.
The Magistrate of Berlin buys the oak sculpture “The Couple” from 1938 (today: National Gallery, National Museums in Berlin).
Participates in the initiative to found the Berufsverband Bildender Künstler Berlins, membership card no. 3.
Acquisition of a second-hand BMW motorbike with sidecar, built 1933. Trips to Sylt and the Ruhr area. Solo exhibitions and participation in exhibitions.
Art prize of the city of Berlin with a prize money of 1000 DM.
As the only artist besides eleven German sculptors she is selected for the International Sculpture Competition “The Unknown Political Prisoner” in London and receives an “honourable mention” with £25 prize money.
Visits the first documenta in Kassel.
An issue of her sculpture sketches appears in the Hermit Press.
Participates in the competition for the International Memorial to Auschwitz. Solo exhibition with Hanna Bekker vom Rath in the Frankfurt Kunstkabinett.
She leaves Berlin and moves to Upper Bavaria, where she converts an old mill in Rechtmehring into a studio and flat.
1970 and 1975
Solo exhibition with Hanna Bekker vom Rath in the Frankfurt Kunstkabinett.
The Berufsverband Bildender Künstler München shows a solo exhibition of 147 sculptures at the Galerie der Künstler in the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde.
The Kunstverein Rosenheim selects her sculpture “Kleiner Wassergeist” (Little Water Spirit) from 1971 as its annual gift and offers the bronze for sale in an edition of 30.
Purchase of a red motorbike, Yamaha XS 650 with Squire sidecar.
On 22 April Louise Stomps dies in Wasserburg am Inn as the result of a motorbike accident.
Installation of three sculptures on the sculpture path in Wasserburg am Inn.
Louise Stomps’ heirs donate six sculptures, 99 drawings and the written estate to the Berlinische Galerie.

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Stefan Moses, Louise Stomps, Sculpteur, Rechtmehring 1982, from the series „Große Alte“ im Wald, © Archive Stefan Moses

Das Verborgene Museum

DAS VERBORGENE MUSEUM (> the hidden museum) at Schlüterstraße 70 in 10625 Berlin-Charlottenburg is the only institution in the world that programmematically takes care of the public presentation and scientific reappraisal of the life works of women artists of past centuries or of women artists who are no longer active.
The initiative to found the association DAS VERBORGENE MUSEUM was the result of an investigation in the Berlin museums (West) between 1984 and 1987, during which the artistic works of more than 500 women artists were discovered in the archives and collections, only a few of whom are still known.
of whom only a few are still known.
DAS VERBORGENE MUSEUM presents exhibitions of women artists of all genres: Women painters, photographers, sculptors and architects, so far mainly from the generation born at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Not infrequently, the presentation of the works is the first appreciation in Germany after the Second World War.


Edited by Marion Beckers and Elisabeth Moortgat for DAS VERBORGENE MUSEUM with scholarly contributions by Yvette Deseyve, Arie Hartog, Annelie Lütgens, Christiane Meister, Christina Thürmer-Rohr, Julia Wallner and personal recollections by Berthold Kogut, Martin Meggle, Peter Schrader and Hans Goswin Stomps; illustrated with new photographs of the sculptures; Hirmer-Verlag, German/English, 224 pages, 150 colour ill, hardcover, 39,90 € (museum edition 29 €).

Curator tours

Mon, 18.10., 15.11. and 20.12.2021, each at 2 p.m.
Included in museum admission Registration at the ticket office (on the day of the event), limited number of participants.

Curators Tours Interpreted in DGS

Mon, 20.12.2021, 2 pm
The guided tour will be simultaneously interpreted into German Sign Language (DGS). Included in museum admission Registration at the ticket office (on the day of the event), limited number of participants.


Berlinische Galerie, Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst,
Fotografie und Architektur, Alte Jakobstraße 124–128
10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg


Wed-Mon 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Tue closed


Day ticket 12 EUR
Reduced day ticket 9 EUR
Free admission up to 18 years

Detailed programme and other offers:berlinischegalerie.de/kalender

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