The meaning of HERAUSRAGEND is OUTSTANDING. Rodin, Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso, Hans Arp or Yves Klein – they all created outstanding art in the truest sense of the word: reliefs. This summer, the Städel Museum is presenting a major exhibition on relief from 1800 to the 1960s.
Image above: Pablo Picasso. Portrait of Fernande Olivier (Portrait de Fernande Olivier) 1909, oil on canvas, 65 × 54.5 cm. Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V. © Picasso Succession / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023
Is it painting or sculpture, surface or space? Hardly any other artistic medium challenges our vision as much as relief: That is what has always made it so appealing to the most famous artists. From 24 May to 17 September 2023, the exhibition will show important works of art from around 160 years by Bertel Thorvaldsen, Jules Dalou, Auguste Rodin, Medardo Rosso, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Alexander Archipenko as well as Hans Arp, Kurt Schwitters, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Yves Klein, Louise Nevelson, Lee Bontecou and others. To this end, the Städel Museum – in cooperation with the Hamburger Kunsthalle – brings together works of art from its own collections and from leading European museums in Frankfurt, such as the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Picasso and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Kunstmuseum Basel or the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. In addition, rarely seen works from private collections are also presented.
Städel Director Philipp Demandt on the exhibition: “This summer, our visitors to the Städel Museum can encounter an exciting artistic medium: the relief. An art form between painting and sculpture that breaks the proverbial mould and the limits of our vision! We are dedicating a major exhibition to this sometimes misunderstood art form.
It is a unique opportunity to experience around 140 significant works by almost 100 pioneering artists of the 19th century, Classical Modernism and international post-war art in Frankfurt and to appreciate relief for what it is: an expression of great art.”
“The relief is one of the oldest pictorial media of mankind. As a hybrid, it stands not only between the artistic genres of painting and sculpture, but also in the field of tension between seeing and touching. Our exhibition is dedicated to the special possibilities and opportunities of relief in art from Classicism to the 1960s. The return to classical antiquity around 1800 marked a clear turning point in the significance and aesthetics of relief, and in the 1960s the ‘exit from the picture’ and the associated transfer of sculptural concepts to spatial concepts marked a new pivotal point. The exhibition does not provide a comprehensive history of relief, but rather sheds unique light on the little-known discourse surrounding the art of relief today,” explain the curators of the exhibition, Alexander Eiling and Eva Mongi-Vollmer.
From antiquity, relief is known above all as an ornament of architecture. In the Renaissance, it played an important role in the competition between painters and sculptors who competed to imitate reality. When relief increasingly found its way into art theoretical debates around 1800, it was described as an intermediate genre among the arts. In the zone between the second and third dimension, however, it remained a predominantly sculptural task. Over time, artistic interest in transcending traditional genre boundaries grew. Painters created sculptures, sculptors approached painting. Relief became a playing field for experiments with new forms, materials and techniques. Reliefs were no longer primarily made of the classical materials of stone, clay, plaster or bronze. The artists resorted to everyday objects and found objects to make the sculptural formations emerge from the surface. Whether glued or nailed, made using natural sponge or a ladle – the relief showed completely new manifestations. In the course of the revolutionary changes of the early 20th century, its social significance also expanded: the relief became a place for utopias and a mirror of the dawn of a new world.
“Outstanding! The Relief from Rodin to Picasso” is sponsored by the Gemeinnützige Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain GmbH and the Städelscher Museums-Verein e. V. with the Städelfreunde 1815. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by the Georg and Franziska Speyer’sche Hochschulstiftung.
Städel Museum Frankfurt am Main
60596 Frankfurt am Main
Wednesday, 24. May to Sunday, 17. September 2023