The Exhibition

Willi Sitte: The Retrospective


There is no more predestined location than the Kunstmuseum Moritzburg Halle (Saale) for this exhibition! On the one hand, Willi Sitte spent most of his life in the city on the Saale, and on the other, with its 2017/18 collection presentation Paths of Modernism. Art in Germany in the 20th Century, the museum demonstrates how a factual and objective presentation can successfully contribute to the discussion of art in the GDR.

Click here for the virtual tour of "Art in the Soviet Zone/GDR between 1945 and 1990" with works by Willi Sitte.



The exhibition extends over two levels in the entire west wing of the Moritzburg. On the first floor, the actual retrospective presentation of the entire œuvre takes place on approx. 1100 sqm. A largely chronological parcours is divided into thematic clusters. A central space is taken up by the works of the 1940s to 1960s, which were the decisive years of Willi Sitte's development – both artistically and in his relationship to the state and the party.


Willi Sitte: Leuna 1921, 1965–1966, Öl und Tempera auf Hartfaserplatte, 270 x 480 cm (4 Tafeln à 270 x 120 cm), Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Foto: bpk / Nationalgalerie, SMB / Klaus Göken © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021
Willi Sitte: Leuna 1969, 1967–1969, Öl und Tempera auf Hartfaserplatte, 275 x 490 cm (4 Tafeln, je 275 x 122,5 cm), Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Foto: bpk / Nationalgalerie, SMB / Klaus Göken © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021


The large exhibition space on the 2nd floor will bring together a dozen of the artist's large-format programme paintings from the 1950s to the 1980s, works such as:

  • Der Untergang der Napoleonischen Armee in der Völkerschlacht bei Leipzig 1813 (The Fall of the Napoleonic Army at the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig 1813), 1956
  • Der Kampf der Thälmann-Brigade in Spanien (The Fight of the Thälmann Brigade in Spain), 1958
  • Memento Stalingrad, 1961
  • Die Überlebenden (The Survivors), 1963
  • Leuna 1921, 1965
  • Leuna 1969, 1968
  • Der Höllensturz in Vietnam (The War in Heaven in Vietnam), 1966/67
  • Mensch, Ritter, Tod und Teufel (Man, Knight, Death and Devil), 1969/70
  • Sie wollten nur Schreiben und Lesen lehren (They only wanted to teach writing and reading), 1985

In another segment between the two parts of the exhibition, the cultural politician Willi Sitte as president of the Verband Bildender Künstler (Association of Visual Artists) is presented for discovery and discussion on an area of approx. 200 square metres with the help of historical documents and media stations.


Willi Sitte: Memento Stalingrad, 1961, Mischtechnik auf Hartfaser, jeweils 153,5 x 120 cm, Predella: 123 x 240 cm, Berlin, Akademie der Künste, Kunstsammlung, Inv.-Nr.: E 24; Foto: Ilona Ripke © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021
Willi Sitte: Die Überlebenden. 1963, Mischtechnik auf Hartfaserplatte, 200 x 350 cm, Predella: 121 x 350 cm, Dresden, Albertinum, Galerie Neue Meister, Gal.-Nr. 3614, Foto: Albertinum | GNM, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Elke Estel/Hans-Peter Klut © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021
Willi Sitte: Höllensturz in Vietnam, 1966/67, Triptychon, Öl auf Hartfaser, 272 × 482 cm, Kulturstiftung Sachsen-Anhalt, Kunstmuseum Moritzburg Halle (Saale), Foto: Punctum/Bertram Kober © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021


The exhibition considers itself decidedly a part of the reappraisal of the art and cultural system in the GDR. Thus, 30 years after reunification, the project represents an important contribution to coming to terms with Willi Sitte's art, which was apostrophised as state art.

On the basis of representative works from public and private collections in Germany and abroad, Sitte's development in the sense of Socialist Realism as well as in contradiction to it becomes visible. The works on display are based on the representative collection of the Kunstmuseum Moritzburg Halle (Saale), works from the artist's estate and important loans from the Nationalgalerie of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig.



With the friendly support of

In cooperation with


Willi Sitte: The Retrospective

03.10.2021 — 09.01.2022


Thomas Bauer-Friedrich and Dr. Paul Kaiser, Dresden, with the collaboration Dr. Eckhart Gillen, Berlin, and Dr. Dorit Litt, Bonn

The exhibition will be on view in an adapted version at the Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle, the Netherlands, in 2023.