Julius Meier-Graefe


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German art historian. He spent most of his career in Berlin, where he was co-founder of the luxuriously produced literary and artistic journal Pan (1895–1900). Its prestige helped to make Berlin the most important German art centre apart from Munich. From 1895 to 1904 Meier-Graefe lived in Paris, where he ran a gallery called La Maison Moderne, which championed Art Nouveau (the great Art Nouveau architect Henri van de Velde designed furniture for his apartment). In this period he also founded the periodical Dekorative Kunst (published in Munich, 1897–1929) and a companion title in French, L'Art décoratif (1898–1914). Meier-Graefe's own publications were devoted mainly to French painting, and John Rewald comments that his ‘numerous and enthusiastic writings on impressionism did much to spread its fame in Germany and abroad’ (The History of Impressionism, 1946, 4th edn, 1973). His most important work was Die Entwicklungsgeschichte der modernen Kunst (3 vols, 1904; translated as Modern Art, 1908), which Rewald describes as ‘the first broadly conceived general history of modern art’ (Post-Impressionism, 1956, 3rd edn, 1978). In 1930 Meier-Graefe moved to France and he died in Switzerland. By this time he was reviled by the Nazis for his support of degenerate art (quotations from his writings were displayed on the walls of the ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition in Munich in 1937 along with those of other like-minded critics, who were pilloried along with the pictures).

From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.

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