Exhibition | Connecting Worlds: Artists and Travel

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 3, 2023

Carlo Labruzzi, The Colosseum seen from the Palatine Hill, Rome, graphite, pen and brown and grey ink, watercolour.

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On view this summer at the Kupferstich-Kabinett of the SKD:

Connecting Worlds: Artists and Travel / Ferne, so nah: Künstler, Künstlerinnen und ihre Reisen
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 8 July – 8 October 2023

Artists and travel have for centuries been intertwined where the desire to explore beyond the confines of one’s home has provoked a truly astonishing outpouring of creativity, much of which was captured through drawings and prints. Comprising over 100 such works, Connecting Worlds: Artists & Travel will be the first exhibition to approach the subject through the lens of artists’ experiences of travel from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. Select works by contemporary artists offer further inspiring perspectives on the topic of travel and connectivity.

book coverWhy did artists travel? What did they take with them? With whom did they travel and meet? How did they record their journey? Addressing such questions, the exhibition invites visitors on their own creative journey by confronting them with works by major artists, amongst them Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein the Younger, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Maria Sibylla Merian, and Angelika Kauffmann, for whom travel expanded their artistic and intellectual horizons and circles of friendship.

Divided into three sections ‘On the Road’, ‘Destination Rome’, and ‘Dresden’, the exhibition begins by exploring artists on the road and what they regarded as important to record in sketchbooks and individual sheets. Primary amongst these are nature studies reflecting a fascination with the outdoors but also architecture and local inhabitants. The main destination was Rome, with its incomparable remains of antiquity and as the seat of the Catholic Church that celebrated its religious and institutional life through processions and public spectacle.

Upon returning to their homelands, artists often used their drawings as the source for prints and paintings, thereby disseminating knowledge of their experience to a wider audience. The exhibition ends with Dresden under Augustus the Strong, a center of glamorous festivities, ambitiously competing with other international courts. This last chapter of the exhibition explores a different kind of travel through images and stories of landscapes, plants, animals, and cultures previously unknown in Europe that were brought back by courtly and military expeditions. The visual recordings of distant worlds in books and prints allowed for imaginary travel and enabled a sense of connectivity with places and people from near and far.

This international exhibition project is a collaboration between the Kupferstich-Kabinett and the Katrin Bellinger Collection, London, and is made possible by the complementary strengths of the two collections: the Kupferstich-Kabinett, with its extensive holdings on the themes of travel and science in the early modern period, and the Katrin Bellinger Collection, with its focus on representations of artists engaged in the creative process. The project is supplemented by prominent loans from national and international collections.

The catalogue us published by Paul Holberton and distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Anita Viola Sganzerla and Stephanie Buck, eds., Connecting Worlds: Artists and Travel (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2023), 274 pages, ISBN: 978-1913645489, £45 / $55.

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