Enfilade

Exhibition: Kolbe’s Fantastic Flora

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 31, 2010

From the Kunsthaus Zürich website:

Giant Herbs and Monster Trees: Drawings and Prints by Carl Wilhelm Kolbe
Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie, Dessau, 28 November 2009 — 31 January 2010
Städtische Galerie in der Reithalle Schloß Neuhaus, Paderborn, 24 April — 13 June 2010
Kunsthaus Zürich, 10 September — 28 November 2010

ISBN: 978-3865685179, $89.50

C.W. Kolbe (1759–1835) is one of the most intriguing figures in German art at the turn of the 19th century. With his fantastical, almost surreal landscapes featuring woods and marshes, Kolbe exerted a considerable (albeit long underestimated) influence on the graphic arts between Sturm und Drang and Romanticism. Kolbe, who did research in linguistics in addition to his artistic career, was born in Berlin and spent much of his life in Dessau. From 1805 to 1808 he lived in Zurich, where he produced engravings based on aquarelle gouaches by the late Salomon Gessner, celebrated at the time as a painter and poet.

As a souvenir of his time by the banks of the Limmat, where he had learned of the collapse of the ‘Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation’, he presented the Künstlergesellschaft with the drawing of the trunk of a dead willow tree. Kolbe’s renderings of trees are a wholesale product of his
imagination, and the fear of radical change lurks in his Arcadian fantasies.