Ilna Ewers-Wunderwald: Expedition Art Nouveau

21 May until 29 August 2021

This year, the Horst Janssen Museum is celebrating the rediscovery of an almost forgotten artist of Art Nouveau, a universal artist of the Belle Epoque: Ilna Ewers-Wunderwald (1875-1957). Highly praised at the beginning of her career, the virtuoso draughtswoman, illustrator, translator, designer of furniture and avant-garde women's fashion and cabaret artist of the "Überbrettl" (Berlin) withdrew from the public eye as early as the 1920s. Although she continued to draw until her death, her work fell more and more into oblivion over the years. After several successful exhibitions of her work last year, Oldenburg is now showing the most comprehensive exhibition of her work from around fifty creative years. From 21 May to 29 August, visitors can look forward to around 75 works by Ilna Ewers-Wunderwald, including drawings and illustrations.


Ilna Ewers-Wunderwald moved between Art Nouveau and Symbolism until the end, her use of colour was masterly. She worked with Chinese ink and coloured pencils and used them to draw highly decorative and detailed depictions of fairytale animals, fantastic plants or whimsical mythical creatures.


One focus of her work is the highly aesthetic and elegant designs for book covers and the imaginative illustrations and vignettes for essays and stories in magazines. She mostly used floral elements such as tendril motifs, but also stylised animals as motifs. The novels and stories of her husband, the writer Hanns Heinz Ewers, also inspired her to create dark and morbid cover designs. Long-distance journeys and stays in South America, the Caribbean, India, Australia and the Far East served her as a source of inspiration – the Mediterranean island of Capri in particular was to become a place of longing for her.


Supporting programme

Due to the restrictions caused by the Corona pandemic, we have developed a predominantly digital framework programme. Since public guided tours and workshops are now possible again on site with limited numbers of people, we are gradually supplementing our digital programme with presence offerings.