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Cult of the Artist: Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Clemens Brentano. Contest between Artist Friends

09.10.2008 to 18.01.2009

Alte Nationalgalerie
Alte Nationalgalerie

A National Gallery Exhibition in collabortaion with the Frankfurter Goethe-Museum and the Kupferstichkabinett

From 1811 onwards, Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Clemens Brentano entered into a close and artistically productive friendship with one another. Brentano had an intense interest in the visual fine arts and took lessons in architecture from Schinkel. He dedicated the figure of the architect, Bonascopa, to his friend in an autobiographical story and wrote a poem 'To Schinkel' in which he paid homage to the inventiveness of Berlin's resident painter and chief city architect. In his turn, Schinkel held Brentano's poetry in high esteem and made many illustrations for his works. At Brentano's suggestion he served as architect for Brentano's whole family.

One of the highpoints of this friendship was a contest, initiated by Brentano, the aim of which was to determine which of the two men's chosen pursuits - poetry or painting - could claim to be the higher art form. Schinkel accepted the challenge. In response to Brentano's story of great narrative complexity, he created a sketch, two large scale drawings and, in 1820, as the crowning moment of his Romantic phase, the painting 'Castle on the River', which today is one of the most prized works in the National Gallery's Romantics collection.

Some 60 exhibits serve as the heart of this exhibition, documenting the two men's friendship and the conditions in which they worked. A selection of paintings, drawings, and some of Schinkel's stage designs as well as Brentano's letters, manuscripts and some of his publications will be just some of the things on display in the exhibition, which is a joint production with the Goethe museum in Frankfurt, Freies Deutsches Hochstift, and the Kupferstichkabinett - Museum of Prints and Drawings in Berlin.