When we think of the wanderer as a painterly motif, the famous painting "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" by Caspar David Friedrich comes to mind. This exceptional loan from the Hamburger Kunsthalle forms the starting point for a special exhibition held at the Alte Nationalgalerie, which follows this surprisingly central theme in art throughout the nineteenth century and all the way to famous works of modern art.
With Rousseau’s call to get “back to nature!” and Goethe’s Sturm und Drang poetry, wandering around 1800 became the expression of a modern awareness of life. As part of a reaction against the rapid social changes that began in the French Revolution, a new form of decelerated self- and world knowledge developed, whose presence can still be felt today.
Since the Romantic period, artists have discovered nature for them-selves, exploring it on foot and looking at it from new angles. Wandering, in art, came to stand for life’s journey, for symbolic pilgrimage. For the traveller, the self-determined journey on foot brought with it a new, intensified encounter with nature and a form of world-appropriation that was both sensual and physical.
The works shown in the exhibition, including masterworks by Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Blechen, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Johan Christian Dahl, Richard Wilson, Christen Købke, Gustave Courbet, Iwan Kramskoi, Ferdinand Hodler, Auguste Renoir, Emil Nolde, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Otto Dix and Ernst Barlach, show just how powerful and fruitful the motif of the wanderer was in art throughout the nineteenth century, not only in Germany but in many places, from France and Great Britain to Denmark, Norway and Russia. The exhibition is arranged in themed sections: The Discovery of Nature; Life’s Journey; The Artist’s Wanderings; The Promenaders; Italy – Land of Longing; Landscapes of Wandering North of the Alps.
Significant loaned works from important museum collections in Europe and the USA will complement selected works from the collection of the Nationalgalerie, resulting in a large show of more than 120 exhibits.
A diversified supporting programme allows visitors to deepen their knowledge of the subjects addressed in the exhibition. “Wanderlust” will also be visited by the “Rolling Studio”, a van converted by Volkswagen that will be available to children and youth to engage in creative work. In addition, workshops that are free of charge will be offered to pupils in grades 1 to 10, who can produce and send postcards featuring their own motifs. These workshops will also be made possible by the Volkswagen Group. Further information on the entire accompanying programme of the exhibition “Wanderlust” can be found at www.wanderlustinberlin.de
A catalogue (in German language) will be published alongside the exhibition by Hirmer Verlag (ca. 290 pages, ca. 190 images, 29 Euro). Available at the museum or online
In a series of events, experts will hold presentations about the exhibition and further aspects related to the phenomenon of wandering. Dates and information available at: www.wanderlustinberlin.de
The exhibition is made possible by the Freunde der Nationalgalerie and supported by Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft.