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FIGUR! Masterpieces of Sculpture from the Wuppertal Von der Heydt Museum in the Waldfrieden Sculpture Park | 18.03.-20.08.2023

Editors’ Choice

The exhibition FIGUR! brings together selected masterpieces from the sculpture collection of the Von der Heydt Museum, some of which are being presented outside the museum walls for the first time. The show, curated by sculptor Tony Cragg and museum director Dr Roland Mönig, focuses on representations of the human figure created between the mid-19th century and the 1980s.

Image above: Exhibition view Sculpture Park Waldfrieden, Figure! © Cragg Foundation, photo Süleyman Kayaalp

This epoch of artistic emancipation produced works that increasingly distanced themselves formally from the traditional ideal of naturalistic representation. For sculpture, this opened up previously unknown possibilities of expression. The exhibition illustrates the tremendous dynamism with which this process of aesthetic liberation took place in the course of modernity by juxtaposing examples of works from different periods of origin that have as their subject one of the original motifs of sculpture, namely the figure.

DEEDS NEWS - Von der Heydt-Museum - Nikolaus Friedrich - 1898 - Foto Sueleyman Kayaalp
Nikolaus Friedrich, Sandalenbinder, 1898 © Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal, Photo Süleyman Kayaalp

A comparison of the different conceptions of the human body shows how artists between classicism and late modernism struggled to find a new, contemporary formal language in their confrontation with tradition. Outstanding examples of this development are the works by Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Hans Arp and Alberto Giacometti shown in the exhibition.

DEEDS NEWS - Von der Heydt-Museum - Auguste Rodin 1900 - Foto Sueleyman Kayaalp
Auguste Rodin, Schreitender Mann, 1900 © Von der Heydt-Museum, Photo Süleyman Kayaalp

Some of the sculptures have never left the museum walls before, and some have not been on public view for a long time. All the works are given new views and references through the presentation in the light-flooded pavilions in the Waldfrieden Sculpture Park. Nature and figure enter into a beautiful liaison.

DEEDS NEWS - Von der Heydt-Museum - Ernst Barlach - 1928 - Foto Sueleyman Kayaalp
Ernst Barlach, Der singende Mann, 1928 © Von der Heydt Museum, Photo Süleyman Kayaalp

With the focus on the human figure, various aspects of corporeality in art can be compared: often the person depicted remains anonymous, as only stereotypes count. Each figure stands in a relationship of tension between object and subject, shaped by the relationship of the artist to the sitter.

DEEDS NEWS - Von der Heydt-Museum - Wilhelm Lehmbruck - 1911 - Foto Sueleyman Kayaalp
Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Small female torso, 1911 12 © Von der Heydt-Museum, Photo Süleyman Kayaalp

Images of female bodies dominate the exhibition. With Germaine Richier, Renée Sintenis and Käthe Kollwitz, however, only three women are represented among the numerous artistic positions. This tense relationship between men and women in sculpture is made visible and, in addition, the question is posed as to how role conceptions and social codifications influence the representation of the human being and are (have to be) constantly renegotiated in temporal contexts.

About the Waldfrieden Sculpture Park

The “Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden”, which is now an important cultural venue in Wuppertal, owes its creation and establishment to the private initiative of the renowned British sculptor Tony Cragg, who lives in Wuppertal and was rector of the Düsseldorf Art Academy until 2013. After Cragg had presented his works in various exhibitions for three decades, he was looking for a permanent outdoor location where he could permanently exhibit his sculptures. In the process, he came across the abandoned Waldfrieden estate, which he acquired in 2006 and began redesigning the park and buildings in the same year. Although the historic grounds were extensively modernised and renovated, great importance was attached to preserving the historical dimension. The Sculpture Park, which was opened in 2008 under the auspices of a charitable foundation of the Cragg family, today houses an impressive collection of sculptures, including works by Tony Cragg himself. In addition, works by internationally important artists are shown in temporary exhibitions, accompanied by lectures on cultural studies topics and concerts. The Cragg Foundation, which manages the sculpture park, is also dedicated to research and publication on the visual arts.


Saturday, 18 March until Sunday, 20 August 2023
Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

SPECIAL GUIDED TOURS to the exhibition “FIGUR!”
Sunday, 19 March, 1.30 p.m.
Sunday, 26 March, 1.30 p.m.
more dates to follow


Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden
Hirschstraße 12
42285 Wuppertal


Day ticket 12 EUR / 9 EUR reduced
Annual ticket 40 EUR / 30 EUR reduced
up to 18 years free

The Sculpture Park and the Von der Heydt Museum offer visitors to the other museum a one-off discount of 2 euros on the admission price on presentation of their day or season tickets. The offer is valid until 20 August 2023 and visitors do not have to visit both museums on the same day.

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