“Karl Friedrich Schinkel”, exhibition at the Kunsthalle Gallery of the Hypo Cultural Foundation in Munich
This exhibition is held under the patronage of Federal President Joachim Gauck.
History and Poetry
Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781–1841), the universal genius from Prussia, is being celebrated in Munich for the very first time. Over 300 artworks afford the opportunity for extensive insight into the life and works of one of Europe’s most important architects at the dawn of Modernism. However, Leo von Klenze’s (1784–1864) contemporary, Schinkel is a great deal more: townplanner, painter, draughtsman, interior and product designer, creator of fantastic stage settings and a visionary of utopian building fantasies. Original set designs for Mozart’s “Magic Flute” are on display and, for the first time, his major painting “Gothic Cathedral on a Rock by the Sea”, with the original and copy shown in juxtaposition. The reconstruction of the optical mechanical perspective stage-picture of the “Great Fire of Moscow” (1812), which captivated audiences during Schinkel’s own lifetime, is a further highlight of this retrospective. It demonstrates how Schinkel left his mark on an entire epoch, from classicism through to historicism. The concepts of History and Poetry refer to Schinkel’s notion that both aspects must be reconciled in order for a building or an object to become a work of art, over and above its “pure necessity”.
Shaping an Epoch
The exhibition is divided into nine sections: visitors are introduced to The Life of Schinkel as they make the acquaintance of his family and companions. History, traditional and constructed. The discovery of historical monuments then traces the first steps of the young architect and accompanies him on his year’s journey through Italy. On his return to Berlin, with no prospects of work as an architect, Schinkel initially discovers his calling as a set designer. In The Stage and the World. Historical Fantasies and the Exotic in Theatre Sets his dream-like stage settings transport the observer to far away places. Yet, he also explores themes of the day as Napoleon’s campaign ends in 1812 in the flames of Moscow. This powerful event went down in history as the turning point of the Napoleonic wars and the subsequent reorganisation of Europe. A few months later, Schinkel staged the “Great Fire of Moscow” as an elaborate perspective stage picture, which held the people of Berlin in its thrall at Christmas 1812. Using sophisticated technology, a theatre with moving puppets has been reconstructed as part of this exhibition for the first time. The Birth of a Nation. Schinkel’s Monuments, explores the role of Prussia in its quest for a national identity. Schinkel’s success did not pass unnoticed and led to impressive architectural assignments from the Royal Family and the state. The section Prussia as a Work of Art. Schinkel’s Buildings in Berlin, presents the central buildings with their classical architecture that inspired subsequent generations: the Neue Wache (guardhouse), Friedrichswerdersche Kirche (church), the Bauakademie (Academy of Architecture) and of course the Alte Museum (Old Museum) on the Lustgarten, which opened its doors in 1830 – the same year as the Glyptothek on Munich’s Königsplatz. An intricate model illustrates both the interior and the exterior of the Berlin museum in great detail. It was not merely King Frederick William III who made use of his services; his son, Crown Prince Frederick William (IV) became Schinkel’s main patron. His manifold commissions in the fields of architecture, interior and object design are presented in the section entitled Schinkel’s Royal Patronage. Court Architect. In addition to this courtly obligation, he published design books that reached an extensive audience. Schinkel’s Modernism. Advancement of Crafts and Design, shows him as a pioneer and a visionary, devoting himself with great energy to promoting industry. As one of the initiators of Prussia’s industrial development, he finds inspiration during a journey to England in 1926. In addition to the Berlin Academy of Architecture, the 1830s define bold, imposing architectural fantasies. These are The Dream of Building – Late Utopias, in which history and poetry ultimately merge into one inseparable whole. Here, Schinkel acts at international level, preparing drafts for a royal palace for Otto of Greece on the Acropolis in Athens or a design for a castle in the Crimea, for example. As the exhibition draws to a close, visitors are informed about Schinkel’s working methods. The Laboratory of Art – Laboratory of Science offers insight into art techniques prevailing at the time, from the manufacture of paper and drawing materials, through to contemporary printing and other techniques of reproduction.
Prior to the exhibition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has promoted a project since 2009 that examined Schinkel’s comprehensive estate of over 5,500 works kept in Berlin’s Kupferstichkabinett (Cabinet of Prints and Drawings). Now catalogued and digitalised under the heading “Schinkel’s Legacy,” the estate is open to the public atwww.smb.museum/schinkel. In close cooperation with the Kunsthalle of the Hypo Cultural Foundation, the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett has transformed these findings into this elaborate exhibition. Its national importance is underlined by the patronage of Joachim Gauck, President of the Federal Republic of Germany.
February 1 – May 12, 2013
open daily from 10 am to 8 pm