On 31 October 2020, Berlin’s BER airport has finally opened. To mark the occasion, the Kupferstichkabinett is devoting a special exhibition to the subject of flying entitled Time for Take-Off! – from our historical fascination with it to the contemporary phenomenon of ‘flight shame’. On display will be some 80 works by around 60 artists, including Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, Eugène Delacroix, Max Klinger, Käthe Kollwitz, Robert Rauschenberg, Eberhard Havekost und Jorinde Voigt.
How long does it take to get “From the Earth to the Moon?” This is a question many of us might have pondered while gazing up at the night sky. In the subtitle of his 1865 novel of the same name, French author Jules Verne claimed that a “direct route” takes 97 hours and 20 minutes. When the moon landing eventuated some 100 years later, on 19 July 1969, the journey took just 76 hours – not a bad estimation on Verne’s part.
Otto Lilienthal, Pioneer of Aviation
Birds and insects have always been able to fly – witches and demons, too, are believed to have this ability. But humans? Our dreams of flight began to form on paper long before they became a reality. To Otto Lilienthal, an early pioneer of aviation, flying was synonymous with dreams of economic freedom, mobility, and peace. In 1894, he formulated the idea that “national borders completely lose their meaning, because they cannot be sealed off in the sky. It is accordingly hard to imagine that customs duties and wars are still possible.” Today, Lilienthal’s vision of peace remains unfulfilled. Like everything that is manmade, flying has two sides. Aeroplanes have the potential to be deadly weapons, their exhaust fumes damage the environment, and their engines are noisy.
A Fascination with Flight
And yet, we continue to be fascinated with flying: since 2001, space tourism – the possibility for private individuals to fly into space – has become feasible. Even flying cars are no longer relegated to the realm of science fiction. Flying taxis could conquer airspace in the next few years, and drone tests are already underway. In January 2020, the ‘Carplane’, designed by Australian John Brown, received certification from the Federal Aviation Authority in Braunschweig. This unique vehicle can be flown or driven as required, allowing everyone to be their own pilot.
How depictions of flying in general, and of the homo volans (the flying human) in particular, have evolved over the centuries, will now be shown in around 80 works from the collection of the Kupferstichkabinett. Drawings, print and works of book art ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day will be presented in the eight chapters that make up this special exhibition.
Filippo Angeli, Hans Baldung, Jacopo de Barberi, Nicolas Beatrizet, Jacques-Firmin Beauvarlet, Félix Bracquemond, KP Brehmer, Johannes Bronkhorst, Adriaen Collaert, George Cruikshank, Eugène Delacroix, Otto Dix, Gustave Doré, Albrecht Dürer, James Ensor, Willi Geiger, Carlo Giuseppe Gerli, Karl-Christian Glassbach, Hendrick Goltzius, Franciso de Goya, Matthäus Greuter, Haller von Hallerstein, Eberhardt Havekost, Joseph Hegenbarth, Eduard Hildebrandt, Wassily Kandinsky, Anselm Kiefer, Paul Klee, Max Klinger, Käthe Kollwitz, Stasys Krasauskas, Fernand Léger, Walter Leistikow, Max Liebermann, Wilhelm Loeillot, Donatello Losito, Henri Matisse, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Adolph Menzel, Johann Daniel Meyer, Nanne Meyer, Paul Paeschke, Panamarenko, Eduardo Paolozzi, Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Rembrandt van Rijn, Kai Schiemenz, Josef Anton Siedler, Peter Sorge, Klaus Staeck, Simon Starling, Hans Verhagen der Stomme, Jonas Suyderhoef, Hans Thoma, Lodewyk Toeput, Medardus Thoenert, Jorinde Voigt, Wolf Vostell, W.L. Walton, Friedrich Georg Weitsch and Michael Lucas Leopold Willmann.
Time for Take-Off! Images of Flight From Albrecht Dürer to Jorinde Voigt is curated by Anna Marie Pfäfflin, curator of 19th-century art, together with Jenny Graser, curator for contemporary art, and Silvia Massa, curatorial assistant at the Kupferstichkabinett.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Wienand Verlag, Cologne, German/English, 112 pages, ISBN 978-3-86832-597-3, RRP: 17 Euro.
Tip Berlin is the media partner for this exhibition.