Text Cultures and the Art of Writing
The Fascination with Characters

23.09.2021 to 18.07.2022
Humboldt Forum

Writing systems are distinctive throughout East Asia. They influence the arts and everyday cultures as well as peoples’ living environments and thinking. Because of its extraordinary importance, the topic lends itself to the opening presentation in the space for Transregional Thematic Exhibitions located at the intersection of the galleries for the arts from China, Korea and Japan.

Throughout East Asia, Chinese characters are not only a means of communication but also a medium of artistic expression. Korea and Japan also developed their own writing systems. The art of writing is one of the most highly appreciated art forms in all three cultures and influences their societies to this day. The various forms of writing help create identity, determine cultural heritage and have also served to legitimise power. They are fascinating even to people who cannot read them.

Selected Positions by Modern and Contemporary Artists

Within its limited scope, the exhibition focuses on 14 selected works by modern and contemporary artists. Neon letters, pine slats and wooden blocks transcend the boundaries of traditional formats and materials. Some works vary and update classical themes or even question them. They repeatedly deal with the close relationship between painting and calligraphy and their equal standing. The mechanism of communication or semantic losses that accompany the development of language and writing are also addressed. The genre’s poetic dimension is evident in all of the artworks.

This temporary presentation of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in cooperation with Prof. Shao-Lan Hertel and students of East Asian art history at the Institute of Art History, Freie Universität Berlin was curated by Uta Rahman-Steinert and is part of the permanent exhibition “Ethnological Collections and Asian Art” in the Humboldt Forum.

Buddha (Pakistan, 2--3. century) in the module "Buddhist Art in South Asia. Stupas, Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas" of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in the Humboldt Forum
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Asiatische Kunst / Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss / Alexander Schippel

Permanent exhibition

Kano Chikanobu (1660 – 1728), Warriors beneath Cherry Blossoms, Japan, Edo/Tokugawa period, early 18th century, hanging scroll
© Museum für Asiatische Kunst – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, given by Marie Meyer and Ernst Grosse / Jürgen Liepe

30.03.2022 to 13.06.2022

Jiang Yujian (active 1822–38), Lasting Aroma of the Yuan and Li Rivers, China, Qing-Dynasty (1644–1911), album leaf
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Asiatische Kunst / Jürgen Liepe

01.03.2022 to 22.08.2022

10178 Berlin

wheelchair accessible

U-Bahn: Friedrichstraße
S-Bahn: Friedrichstraße, Hackescher Markt
Tram: Am Kupfergraben, Hackescher Markt
Bus: Staatsoper, Lustgarten, Friedrichstraße

Low-carbon public transport connections
Local traffic
Long distance

Sun 10:30 - 18:30
Mon 10:00 - 18:30
Tue closed
Wed 10:30 - 18:30
Thu 10:30 - 18:30
Fri 10:30 - 18:30
Sat 10:30 - 18:30

Opening times on public holidays Opening Hours

Related Links

E-Book zur Ausstellung „Schreibkunst und Schriftkultur in Ostasien: Faszination der Zeichen“ Low Res (PDF, 1,72 MB)

E-Book zur Ausstellung „Schreibkunst und Schriftkultur in Ostasien: Faszination der Zeichen“ High Res (PDF, 20 MB)