The Museum of Modern Art Announces Werner Schroeter Retrospective


The Museum of Modern Art, in association with the Munich Film Museum and the Goethe-Institut New York, presents the first comprehensive North American retrospective of German film, theater, and opera director Werner Schroeter (1945-2010).

Running May 11-June 11, 2012, in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters, Werner Schroeter includes 40 feature films and rare early experimental shorts, very few of which have had theatrical releases in the United States. This exhibition is organized by Stefan Droessler, Director, Munich Film Museum, and Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.

The full measure of Schroeter's influence on his German contemporaries, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Rosa von Praunheim, and Hans-Jurgen Syberberg, and on Daniel Schmid, Ulrike Ottinger, Wim Wenders, and Werner Herzog, has only begun to be fully appreciated. So too his direction of actors like Isabelle Huppert, Bulle Ogier, Candy Darling, and his muse and superstar Magdalena Montezuma, from whom he drew some of their greatest performances.

Inspired, like Jack Smith, by the divas of silent-era cinema, Schroeter strove for an authenticity of feeling through extreme emotions, reaching a point, he said, of "musical and gestural excess." He found this on the steps of an ancient Roman temple and on the streets of Manila, in a Pina Bausch dance piece, a fin-de-siècle Oscar Wilde tragedy, and a Verdi aria performed by Maria Callas. Making no distinction between kitsch and high art—travesty was for him a form of exaltation—he drew from a dazzling array of sources: Shakespeare and the Passion Play, German Romanticism and Italian neorealism, 19th-century opera and Arab pop, Jean Genet and Douglas Sirk, fashioning out of these a densely woven, ravishing, and often hallucinatory collage of images, songs, and fragmentary narratives organized around musical structures.