La Vera Pohl Collection of German Expressionism

La Vera Pohl (1901-1981) was a Milwaukee art historian, museum director, artist, and collector who studied in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Over a 40-year period she collected around 220 prints, paintings, and drawings, most of them by early 20th-century German artists — a collection of particular significance because it was compiled at a time when most Americans were unaware of modern German art. Artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Emil Nolde, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff lend distinction to the collection, which has been described as “a sharply focused body of work . . . a survey of German Expressionism that embraces the whole of the movement.” Mrs. Pohl bequeathed “her books and library and pictures and drawing collection” to Milwaukee-Downer College, which by the time of her death had become part of Lawrence University. A major exhibition of the collection was held in the newly completed Wriston Art Center at the time of its dedication in 1989.