To mark the recent acquisition of a private collection from Stockholm, containing over 100 works by the great printmaker and graphic artist Gerhard Altenbourg (1926-1989), the Kupferstichkabinett is holding a retrospective on this internationally revered visual poet, with a representative selection of his work that reveals the amazing continuity and quality of his art.
The trauma of the Second World War resulted in Altenbourg's early work being dominated by a disillusioned view of humanity which was later sublimated into a more contemplative world view, through the artist's study of nature, literature, and Far Eastern philosophy. The Thüringen-based artist refused to satisfy official communist cultural-policy doctrine, and instead withdrew into himself in his art, creating delicate pictorial tapestries by using fine inks, pens, and colours. He managed to find a market for these works among West German collectors very early on in his career.
The title of the exhibition 'The Drawn Self' is derived from a line in a poem by Gottfried Benn (whom Altenbourg greatly revered) and refers to Altenbourg's introverted body of work, in which he drew an image of himself lined by his experiences in life.
The acquisition is supported by the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung and the Kulturstiftung der Länder (Germany's version of the Arts Council).
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