Feel the Soul?

The Inspired Spirit of Poet-Painter Louis Michel Eilshemius in the Works of J. F. Willumsen, Florin Stettheimer, Marsden Hartley, Joseph Stella, Francis Picabia, Edward Hopper, Milton Avery, Marcel Duchamp, Georgia OKeeffe, Horace Pippin, Louise Nevelson, Balthus, Louise Bourgeois, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Jeff Koons, Karen Kilimnik, Peter Schuyff, Merlin James, Verne Dawson, Ugo Rondinone, Caroline Bachmann, Wilhelm Sasnal, Vidya Gastaldon, Nicolas Party, and Caroline Tschumi.

6 November 2020 – 5 November 2021

Due to COVID-19 and the resulting guidelines for museum visits, Willumsen’s Museum has developed a new virtual exhibition format that people can enjoy with friends and family directly online 24/7 – at home or on a mobile device.

The virtual exhibition Feel the Soul? is curated by the Swiss artist, curator and writer Stefan Banz. The exhibition presents a poetic story of figurative, nature-based painting in a bold, transhistorical juxtaposition of artworks. It is based on an often underappreciated genre of painting, and the work of the recently rediscovered American artist Louis Michel Eilshemius (1864-1941).

The exhibition will be followed by another artist-curated virtual exhibition to be launched in spring 2021.

Both exhibitions have been generously supported by the Augustinus Foundation, and will be available online for one year from the day they are launched.


As a complex, distinctive and intriguing artist, Louis Michel Eilshemius has left an indelible mark on 20th-century art. His figurative, romantic and simultaneously spontaneous and conceptual art stands in sharp contrast to the machine art, fragmentation and geometric forms that predominated at the time, defying prevalent definitions of modernism and avant-garde art.

Eilshemius’s highly individualistic art and persona have a strong contemporary appeal, and the juxtaposition of his work with that of artists of his own time and ours provides a broad frame­work for the contemporary reception of an artist who has since his death been largely overlooked.

Thanks in no small part to Stefan Banz’s monumental publication Eilshemius: Peer of Poet-Painters (JRPêRingier, 2015), there is a current revival of interest in Louis Michel Eilshemius. This ‘artists’ artist’, who a remarkable number of artists since Marcel Duchamp have been inspired by and collected, is currently assuming his rightful place in art history after over seven decades of obscurity and rejection.


Curatorial Statement

Before I really knew Louis Michel Eilshemius’ work, there were always two questions that personally intrigued me: Why was Marcel Duchamp so interested in his oeuvre that he was ready, along with Katherine S. Dreier, to organize his first two public solo exhibitions at the legendary Société Anonyme in 1920 and 1924, and might Duchamp even have been influenced by his work?


Stefan Banz