Dogs are the oldest known pets and humankind's most faithful companions. Their presence as such is also reflected in art, where our four-legged friends can be found in representations of every kind. In this year's summer show, the Kupferstichkabinett presents the most charming images of humans and dogs. And in doing so, the museum has a unique asset to draw from - the most comprehensive and thematically diverse collection of European art in Germany, spanning 10 centuries. The collection contains scores of outstanding animal pictures, by some of the greatest draughtsmen and printmakers, from Agostino Carracci, Albrecht Dürer, and Rembrandt to Adolph Menzel, Otto Dix, and Dieter Roth. The drawings, prints, oil sketches, and watercolours from the collection give a vivid impression of the variety of modes of representation that artists have adopted over the centuries to capture the essence of our canine friends. In their own distinctive styles, the artists apply their extraordinary powers of observation and skilful hand to render the texture of fur and the anatomy of dogs in motion. In an array of delicate brushstrokes, in rugged aquatint, hard cross-hatching, and fleeting pencil lines, breeds of every variety are brought to life on paper, from the smooth-haired greyhound to the stocky bulldog, from playful spaniels to terriers and poodles.
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As dogs have accompanied humankind through the ages, so too have they accompanied humankind in the changing faces of art. Dogs were presented alongside Adam and Eve, in depictions of the first imagined humans in Paradise. The works on display show how, since then, the dog has served people in a variety of roles, as watchdogs, sheepdogs, hunting dogs, and companion dogs and have been an integral feature of street scenes in cities for centuries. The earliest genre to consistently feature dogs was the royal hunting scene, which quickly evolved into an important subject in art. As a metaphor of the taming of nature by humankind, the hunting scene was an essential part of courtly display. Later, some artists used the subject of the dog to disrupt pictorial conventions. Rembrandt, for instance, placed a dog in the foreground of a biblical scene, defecating. Rather than just depicting dogs in anatomical studies, many artists have dedicated entire sheets to representations of our canine friends, often without their masters, giving rise to a subgenre of portraiture: the dog portrait. When dogs are depicted with their masters - be they man, woman, or child - they are frequently used to underline human gender roles or to reflect the naive innocence of the depicted child. Again and again, dogs have been portrayed in such a way as to reflect their owners' character. However, the animals are not only portrayed as loyal companions or humorous play-friends, they can also be seen roaming the streets as strays or mutating into vicious, hair-raising monsters.
By launching a major exhibition in the middle of summer, the Kupferstichkabinett has broken the conventional mould of concentrating on spring and fall exhibitions. The aim of the summer show is to present particularly attractive and popular themes in art and cultural history to visitors during the summer months, the time of long holidays, of travel, when people have time to indulge in culture. In keeping with the season, the exhibition takes an especially ironic, irreverent view at the topic. In addition, the summer show allows the museum of works on paper to build on its unique asset: the most comprehensive and thematically diverse collection of European art in Germany, spanning 10 centuries. The exhibitions include around 100 works and on are on display for three months at the Kupferstichkabinett at the Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz. The first of these shows, 'The Art of Bathing', held in 2014, was an instant success.
Address / Getting there
U-Bahn U2 (Potsdamer Platz)
S-Bahn S1, S2, S25 (Potsdamer Platz)
Bus M29 (Potsdamer Brücke); M41 (Potsdamer Platz Bhf / Voßstraße); M48, M85 (Kulturforum); 200 (Philharmonie)
Sun 11:00 - 18:00
Tue 10:00 - 18:00
Wed 10:00 - 18:00
Thu 10:00 - 20:00
Fri 10:00 - 18:00
Sat 11:00 - 18:00
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