The Kunstsammlungen am Theaterplatz are among the largest civic art collections in Germany and cover all genres of artistic production, from painting and sculpture to graphic art and decorative art, with a special focus on textiles.
Among the most significant museum holdings are works from the Romantic period and, above all, the Expressionist period, particularly by the Brücke (Bridge) artists, with a large group of works by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff – who was from Chemnitz and grew up here, as did Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Ernst Heckel. Outstanding works by the latter two artists are also held in the Kunstsammlungen am Theaterplatz. In addition, the painting collection includes numerous works by artists such as Caspar David Friedrich, Max Slevogt, Lovis Corinth, Helene Funke, Louise Seidler, Edvard Munch, and Georg Baselitz.
Among the sculptures in the holdings are works by Edgar Degas, Aristide Maillol, and Tony Cragg, among others. The Graphic Art Collection comprises about 28,000 works on paper, including outstanding groups of works by Lyonel Feininger, Honoré Daumier, Käthe Kollwitz, and Wolfgang Mattheuer. Furthermore attention should be drawn to the decorative arts and the textile collection. The specialised art-history library is open to the public and holds more than 90,000 publications.
A high point is the archive containing the complete estate of Carlfriedrich Claus, an important representative of an international art school that emerged around 1960 as the »Second Modernism«. The archive contains the artist’s Sprachblätter (Language Sheets) und Lautprozesse (Sound Processes), as well as works by artist-friends, manuscripts, diaries, letters, photographs, and Claus’s own library.
The collection exhibitions present paintings and sculptures from the Romantic period and the 19th century, as well as masterworks of classic modern art, most notably by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and from the Expressionist period. They also give an insight into abstract art after 1945. The museum is renowned not only for the preservation and exhibition of its collections but also for its organisation of special exhibitions.