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Digital Decadence: Online Content on the Special Exhibition Decadence and Dark Dreams: Belgian Symbolism

16.12.2020
Alte Nationalgalerie

While the museums remain closed, a focused series of videos on the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s YouTube channel explores the special exhibition Decadence and Dark Dreams: Belgian Symbolism. While one film traces the path of a painting by Fernand Khnopff from Bruges all the way to the Museumsinsel in Berlin, in a series of short clips, Ralph Gleis, director of the Alte Nationalgalerie and curator of the exhibition, focuses on the highlights and themes of the show, approaching them from multiple perspectives. Additionally, the Alte Nationalgalerie’s Facebook page offers a virtual tour of the exhibition.

A heady glimpse into the abyss by a jaded society and the morbid allure of the tension between Thanatos and Eros were some of the common themes of fin-de-siècle art, which were expressed with particular drama in Belgian Symbolism. Featuring an array of international loans, this major exhibition at the Alte Nationalgalerie focuses on this artistic movement, which emerged in the 1880s with Brussels as one of its centres, and introduces a whole spectrum of Belgian artists who have previously received little attention, such as Fernand Khnopff, Léon Spilliaert, James Ensor and Jean Delville, identifying important points of reference for the broader Symbolist movement in Europe.

Exhibition Film and Thematic Clips

Ralph Gleis presents the exhibition in a short film, focusing on the highlights and themes of the show in a series of short clips, beginning with some of the portraits and landscapes of Belgian Symbolism. The series Decadence and Dark Dreams will be released in instalments, and is already up on the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s YouTube channel.  

Fernand Khnopff: From Bruges to Berlin

Without the work of colleagues throughout Germany and abroad, this exhibition at the Alte Nationalgalerie would not have been possible. One of the masterpieces of Belgian Symbolism by Fernand Khnopff, for example, is on loan from the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, which documented the artwork’s journey to Berlin. The roughly 8-minute film (in Dutch with German subtitles) is now up on the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s YouTube channel.    

Live Tour

The live tour, lasting around 50 minutes and led in German by Ralph Gleis, gives an overview of the most important works in the exhibition and can be watched as a video on the Facebook page of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Exhibition Catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a 336-page catalogue published by Hirmer Verlag and featuring 265 colour reproductions. It is edited by Ralph Gleis and contains texts by Jane Block, Maja Brodrecht, Yvette Deseyve, Johan De Smet, Michel Draguet, Ralph Gleis, Arnika Groenewald-Schmidt, Hans Körner and Inga Rossi-Schrimpf. The catalogue is available from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s online shop for €45.

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Online Digital Content

An overview of all of the online digital content offered by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is available at www.smb.museum/online-angebote.