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Melancholy
Genius and Madness in Art

17.02.2006 to 07.05.2006

Neue Nationalgalerie

An exhibition of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux de France.

Made possible by the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie (Friends of the National Gallery).


At the beginning of 2006, the Nationalgalerie will address a major preoccupation of European art: melancholy. The idea of melancholy is the universal reference point for all important masterpieces from antiquity to the contemporary. Melancholy is the awareness of the finiteness of human understanding in a world perceived as infinite. To this day, the desire to break through these barriers and to stride to new horizons is one of the essential definitions of art.

Bringing together the great geniuses of art, the exhibition "Melancholie. Genie und Wahnsinn in der Kunst" lays out a history of ideas which has so far not been told in this epoch-dimensioned form. With around 300 exhibits, among them numerous masterpieces from major international museums and collections, the exhibition unfolds in a panorama of images which takes the visitor on a unique tour through two and a half millennia of art history.

At the heart of the exhibition is Albrecht Dürer's famous print "Melencolia I": since its creation in 1514, this enigmatic figure surrounded by mysterious objects has stimulated the observer's thirst for knowledge. This singular image, virtually an icon, succeeds like no other in embracing pictorially, on a few square centimetres, the boundless cosmos of melancholy.