On the occasion of the 250th birthday of Caspar David Friedrich (1774 Greifswald-1840 Dresden), the Hamburger Kunsthalle presents the anniversary exhibition CASPAR DAVID FRIEDRICH: Art for a New Era from 15 December 2023 to 1 April 2024. It offers the most comprehensive exhibition of works by the important Romantic painter for many years. At the centre of the exhibition is a thematically oriented retrospective of over 60 paintings – including numerous iconic key works – and around 100 drawings. In addition, selected works by Friedrich’s artist friends will be presented, including those by Carl Blechen, Carl Gustav Carus, Johan Christian Dahl, August Heinrich and Georg Friedrich Kersting.
Fig. above: Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) Das Eismeer, 1823/24, Öl auf Leinwand, 96,7 x 126,9 cm, Hamburger Kunsthalle, (c) Hamburger Kunsthalle / bpk, Foto: Elke Walford
The central theme is the novel relationship between man and nature in Friedrich’s landscape depictions. In the first third of the 19th century, he thus set essential impulses for making the genre of landscape “art for a new time”. The enduring fascination of his works and their special connectivity to contemporary themes is shown in a second separate section of the exhibition, which is dedicated to Friedrich’s reception in contemporary art. Across genres and media, around 20 artists from Germany and abroad take a look at Romanticism, its understanding of nature and Friedrich’s art with their works, including videos, photographs and installations. Works by Elina Brotherus, Julian Charrière, David Claerbout, Olafur Eliasson, Alex Grein, Hiroyuki Masuyama, Mariele Neudecker, Ulrike Rosenbach, Susan Schuppli, Santeri Tuori and Kehinde Wiley are on display.
High-calibre and extremely rare Friedrich loans such as the paintings Chalk Rocks on Rügen (1818), The Monk by the Sea (1808-10) and Two Men Contemplating the Moon (1819/20) can be experienced in the exhibition alongside, among others, the paintings Wanderer over the Sea of Fog (c. 1817) and The Sea of Ice (1823/24) from the holdings of the Hamburger Kunsthalle. These works are among the icons of Romanticism. In his paintings, Friedrich explored the ways in which landscape can become a contemporary theme, the potential that attaches to the representation of natural spaces and how this can be conveyed to the viewer. But Friedrich’s extensive oeuvre of drawings is also of particular importance in the show. Consciously spending time in the great outdoors with artistic intent is one of the special characteristics of Romantic art practice and was essential for Friedrich.
The unique mood of Friedrich’s works and their memorable motifs and compositions have encouraged a large number of artists to enter into dialogue with the Romantic artist – especially against the backdrop of current ecological issues. The tension between progressive environmental destruction and a longing for “untouched nature” forms a continuity from Romanticism to the present day. While the Romantic understanding of nature was national in Friedrich’s lifetime, artists today approach nature and climate change from a global perspective.
In this sense, the exhibition also shows current works that are dedicated to the dark sides and voids of Romanticism and its reception. Colonialism and its effects on man and nature are examined as well as a Western hegemonic concept of nature and its manifestations in art. The exhibition includes large-format Frederick adaptations by the US artist Kehinde Wiley (*1977), which critically reflect the Western white-influenced art canon.
The exhibition at the Hamburger Kunsthalle marks the start of the Caspar David Friedrich Festival. On the occasion of the anniversary year, the Old National Gallery of the National Museums in Berlin and the Dresden State Art Collections will each dedicate a thematically independent show to the artist. The three museums have the most important collections of Friedrich’s works in the world. With extensive reciprocal loans, they enable unique presentations of different aspects of his oeuvre. The anniversary exhibitions on the 250th birthday of Caspar David Friedrich are under the patronage of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. In the context of the festival – initiated by the Hamburger Kunsthalle in cooperation with the Alte Nationalgalerie of the National Museums in Berlin and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden – a web portal with curated multimedia offers on Friedrich’s work is being created as part of the Datenraum Kultur project. As one of several lighthouse projects of the Federal Government’s digital strategy, the Data Space Culture is intended to enable the digital networking of cultural institutions and the sovereign exchange of culture-related data. The German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT are in charge of setting it up.
Hamburg Art Gallery
Tuesday, Wednesday – 10:00-18:00
Thursday – 10:00-21:00
Friday-Sunday – 10:00am-6:00pm