Käthe Kollwitz and Marlene Dumas. Three exhibitions at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

11 October 2017

Käthe Kollwitz in Dresden

To honour the legacy of one of the 20th century’s most significant artists, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden’s major autumn exhibition in the Kupferstich-Kabinett is dedicated to the work of Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945). Around 70 masterpieces of graphic art from the SKD’s collections will be showcased to mark the 150th anniversary of her birth. The exhibition presents a comprehensive view of her early work, supplemented by works by Max Klinger, Eugène Carrière, Edvard Munch and Ernst Barlach, as well as loans from the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Cologne, the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin and the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. 

  • DATES 19/10/2017—14/01/2018

[Translate to English:] Käthe Kollwitz in Dresden

Kollwitz’s works represent perfect examples of the experimentation with new graphic forms of expression that was taking place around 1900. In view of its quality and particular correlation between artistry and content-related themes, her work stands out from this movement as something unique.

The Kupferstich-Kabinett holds 252 prints, four portfolio editions and 21 drawings: one of the most important public collections of Käthe Kollwitz’s work. Under the directorship of Max Lehrs (1855–1938), from 1898 the Kupferstich-Kabinett was the first public museum to promote the work of the artist, thanks to a systematic purchasing policy. In addition to the acquisitions, the lively exchange of letters bears witness to the enormous esteem in which Kollwitz was held in Dresden owing to Lehrs’ actions. The importance he attached to her work becomes particularly apparent in the context of what the Kupferstich-Kabinett was focused on acquiring for its collections around 1900: namely works by foreign artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Edvard Munch.

The exhibition retraces the emergence of the first Kollwitz collection at a museum, presenting the artist as one of the ‘greatest talents working in the graphic arts’ (Max Lehrs). Through etchings, lithographs and woodcuts – and many drawings from every period of the artist’s career – we can gain an insight into her complex body of work and the fundamentally humanistic perspective it is indebted to. In addition to major themes – death and war, motherhood and love – Kollwitz explored her role as an artist, woman and mother through the many self-portraits she created throughout her lifetime.

The 176-page catalogue for Käthe Kollwitz in Dresden, to be published concurrently with the exhibition, features 137 colour illustrations (Paul Holberton Publishing, London). With contributions from Agnes Matthias, Petra Kuhlmann-Hodick, Alexandra von dem Knesebeck and Hannelore Fischer. German edition / English edition: €35 / £30, museum edition: €20; ISBN: 978-1-911300-30-4.

The exhibition has been curated by Petra Kuhlmann-Hodick and Agnes Matthias.

Marlene Dumas. Hope and Fear

In parallel to Käthe Kollwitz in Dresden, the Kupferstich-Kabinett will showcase three important ink and watercolour series by contemporary artist Marlene Dumas (born 1953 in Cape Town) in Hope and Fear. The images of heads pose questions of identity, between an individual portrait and the ideal, perpetrator and victim, belonging and exclusion.

  • DATES 19/10/2017—14/01/2018

[Translate to English:] Skulls

There is no unambiguous reading of the extremes of human existence which Dumas depicts. The artist thus exposes the arbitrariness of categorisation and convention as instruments of discrimination – a theme that can be traced back to her personal experience of apartheid in South Africa.

The close proximity of the Dumas and Kollwitz collections in the Kupferstich-Kabinett makes it possible to compare these two artistic approaches – both of which take aim at the fundamental questions of human existence – across time.

The exhibition has been curated by Björn Egging.

Marlene Dumas. Skulls

To mark the occasion of the design of the altar image in Dresden’s Annenkirche, the Albertinum will be showcasing 36 works from Marlene Dumas’ Skulls series. Like much of her work, this series is structured around an overarching concept that only reveals itself through the full effect of its various individual images. As a painter fascinated by the conditio humana, the motif of the skull is fundamental to Dumas’ work.

  • DATES 19/10/2017—14/01/2018

[Translate to English:] Skulls

The frieze-like layout of the images in the exhibition invites the viewer to closely examine each skull individually and consider it on its own before recognising the universality that affects all of us as humans on an existential level. The Albertinum will also feature works by Jan Andriesse and Bert Boogaard, who collaborated with Dumas on the altar image in the Annenkirche. The presentation gives an insight into the individual work of these two artists.

The exhibition has been curated by Kathleen Reinhardt and Holger Birkholz.

At 6.30 p.m. on Thursday, 19 October, Marlene Dumas will attend a discussion in the atrium of the Albertinum. The book Marlene Dumas: Ein Altarbild für die Annenkirche in Dresden (Marlene Dumas: An Altar Image for the Annenkirche in Dresden) will be presented at the event; it is published by Buchhandlung Walther König in Cologne.

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