Romanticism and Modernism
Drawing as an Art Form – from Caspar David Friedrich to Vincent van Gogh

24.09.2016 to 15.01.2017
Kulturforum

The 'long' 19th century was a time of Romantic enchantment, as well as the mechanical acceleration of life, nation-building and industrialisation. It was a time of the systematic and scientific study of history, art and nature, as well as the emergence of a middle-class public. It was a time of a constant shift in perception in the face of a more and more globally experienced world. In that time everything changed: art's subject matter and forms, media and methods used to create images, aesthetic categories, perspective and responses of the spectator and artists' self-awareness.

The medium that exhibits these changes first, more clearly and with greater complexity than any other art form is drawing: it vividly sheds light on the creative process, and gives immediate insight into artistic ideas. Drawing experiments with new content and composition, plays with the beauty of the fragmented as with the atmospheric. It has the freedom to define its objects in either concrete terms or vague allusions, or to allow their complete diffusion. Drawing documents, as never before, material and social realities whilst reflecting upon its own potential in terms of using tools, materials and techniques.

This exhibition compiles a selection of around 130 works from the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett's collection to highlight crucial aspects of the gradual, seismic shift from the classical European art tradition to modernism. Iconic works are brought into mutual dialogue with never-before-exhibited 19th century masterpieces, revealing fascinating affinities and contrasts between the two: brush drawings (sepia and watercolour) by artists including Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Blechen, and Schnorr von Carolsfeld are juxtaposed with line drawings (pen and ink) by artists such as Ferdinand Olivier, Franz Theobald Horny, Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Wilhelm Leibl. Adolph Menzel's virtuoso paintings on paper from his 'Kinderalbum' contrast the blurred, monochrome head studies from his later period, which feature a complete diffusion of line. Horizons broaden with 'Trip around the World': Eduard Hildebrandt's today somewhat overlooked series of plein-air master drawings in watercolour, an aesthetic investigation of the globe in the spirit of Humboldt. Finally, by including outstanding works by Vincent van Gogh, Giovanni Segantini and Odilon Redon, the exhibition traces the international development of drawing as an autonomous art form.

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On view is: Die Tänzerin Alicia Ruben vom Staatsballett Berlin in einer Kopie des Kleides von Canovas Tänzerin vor der Skulptur im Bode-Museum.
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Daniel Hofer

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Romanticism and Modernism Temporary exhibition Kupferstichkabinett
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