Exposició: “Els plaers de mirar. Tresors del fons bibliogràfic de la Universitat de Barcelona”

Els plaers de mirar. Tresors del fons bibliogràfic de la Universitat de Barcelona

Dates: Del 17 de novembre de 2017 al 25 de febrer de 2018.
Lloc: Museu d’Història de Catalunya

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Exhibition: Adolphe Braun. A European Photography Business and the 19th-Century Visual Arts

Exhibition in Münchener Stadtmuseum: Adolphe Braun. A European Photography Business and the 19th-Century Visual Arts

October 6, 2017 – January 21, 2018

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The Münchner Stadtmuseum is holding the first-ever retrospective of French photographer Adolphe Braun (1812-1877) to be hosted by a German-speaking country. The exhibition draws on the Museum’s own extensive collection complemented by loans from around the world, and presents some 400 original Braun photographs, along with some 20 paintings by a number of international artists.

Adolphe Braun was one of the most prominent and influential photographers in 19th century Europe. In 1855, the erstwhile textile designer made his debut as a photographer at the Paris Universal Exposition with a series of floral studies. International visitors were so captivated by the beauty of the familiar still life captured through the medium of photography that not only did the images prove popular as models for artisans but they also caused a stir in the art world. Braun would subsequently prove to be a great experimenter behind the camera. With the support of a few family members and a handful of employees, he founded “Ad. Braun et Cie.”, a photography business, and together they pioneered Alpine photography. Perilous expeditions in the high mountains produced large-format landscapes of the Swiss Alps that appealed to the scientific community and tourists alike. These images document a natural landscape undergoing rapid change as a result of industrialization and a changing climate. To this day, they remain some of the most striking pictures ever taken of Alpine scenery.

Adolphe Braun, Aletsch Glacier, Canton of Valais, 1862-1865, Albumen print © Münchner Stadtmuseum  Adolphe Braun, Herd of sheep, 1860-1862, Albumen print, © Münchner Stadtmuseum  Adolphe Braun, Still life of a hunting scene, 1867, Photo print around 1930, Carbon print © Musée Unterlinden, Colmar  Adolphe Braun, L’Alsace (Alsace), Carbon print, around 1871/72 © Münchner Stadtmuseum

Braun’s photographs made a huge impression on French painter, Gustave Courbet, and were the inspiration for “Château Chillon”, which depicts the eponymous Swiss castle on the shores of Lake Geneva. In the exhibition, this painting takes center stage alongside works by Alexandre Calame displayed next to the photographs on which they were based. The exhibition devotes twelve chapters to the ways in which Adolphe Braun’s imagery influenced the visual arts in the 19th century. Braun discovered that a soft-focus effect could lend a painting-like quality to his photographic portraits – not portraits of people, but of horses, sheep and cows. Painters including Rosa Bonheur and Albert Heinrich Brendel used these animal images as models for their paintings. The dead animal as a memento mori, a well-established artistic motif ever since the early modern period, became the subject of a series of large-format still-life hunting images. American artist William Harnett, who would later go on to revolutionize American still-life painting, encountered these on a visit to Munich. Braun’s photographs of Egypt also provided a fresh source of inspiration for the Orientalism that was in vogue in the 19th century. While this series was shot for the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, it did not adopt a photo documentary style. These Egyptian photographs depict picturesque scenes of the Nile’s distinctive natural environment and were used by artists such as painter Eugène Fromentin as additional resources.

Alsatian painter, Jean-Jacques Henner, was a close friend of Adolphe Braun’s son, Gaston. Both this artist and the photography business shared a mutual interest in Alsatian and Swiss folklore, and this fascination found expression in numerous genre scenes and costume studies. The black-and-white photographs they jointly produced were laboriously hand-colored to ensure they lost nothing in comparison with paintings. Yet the results were more kitsch than art, and the market for photographs of this nature remained confined to the Alsace region. Nevertheless, Braun’s images did serve as a source for the paintings of Jean-Jacques Henner. Meanwhile, reproductions of works of art and drawings from Europe’s foremost museums and private collections started to become particularly important to artists. The company, even before 1885 when it became the official photographer of the Louvre, had already produced more than 30,000 prints, mostly of Italian, Dutch and French art, reflecting the tastes of the time. In 1869, for instance, the company’s photographers documented Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, sparking an interest in photography not only among artists but also among art historians. The opportunity to examine photographs of works of art had a significant influence on the emerging discipline of art history, and several prominent art historians of the day worked closely with Adolphe Braun’s company.

At the very time when reproduction work was really starting to take off, the Franco-Prussian War laid waste to towns, cities and large areas of countryside in France. In 1871, Braun took a series of photographs of Paris and Belfort, both to document the devastation caused by the war and because good money could be made from pictures of the destruction. One photograph mirrors Ernest Meissonier’s iconic Paris Commune painting “The Ruins of the Tuileries Palace”. Braun also lamented the loss of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany after France’s defeat in the war through his allegorical depictions of two young women wearing each region’s traditional dress. These powerfully symbolic images proved extremely popular as prints, in the printed media and also on postcards, chinaware and textiles.

A comprehensive catalog with contributions by Ulrich Pohlmann and Paul Mellenthin (eds.) and Jan von Brevern, Christian Kempf, Dorothea Peters, Marie Robert, Aziza Gril-Mariotte and Bernd Stiegler will be published by Schirmer / Mosel Verlag. 340 pages.

The exhibition and catalog have received generous support from the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation and the Friends of Münchner Stadtmuseum.

 

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Musée Unterlinden in Colmar which will subsequently host the exhibition in spring 2018.

 

Exhibition: Showcase – Artists’ books from the collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Exhibition poster | © BSB
Exhibition poster | © BSB

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Ludwigstraße 16, 80539 Munich
Schatzkammern, 1st floor
Admission is free.
20 September 2017 – 7 January 2018

 

Titled SHOWCASE, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek presents selected exhibits from its collection of artists’ books, which has been expanded systematically since 1915, encompasses a large variety of topics and has today reached a top rank on an international level. SHOWCASE indicates the presentation of the books in glass cases that is characteristic of an exhibition in this library. The title likewise implies that these contemporary works of art are collected for the purpose of showing and browsing them, hence the part “show”, but also within the meaning of a “case”, exemplarily, in line with the targeted expansion of a collection that is special for an academic universal library.

SHOWCASE pursues the goal to effectively bring to bear the dynamism and multi-faceted expressiveness of these books, which are consciously chosen by artists as their form of expression. It illustrates the differences between the artists’ approaches to using the medium of the book and the differences between their appearance, design, material and value. Books produced at low cost and as a mass product can be artists’ books just like pricey books of a bibliophile appearance. With their ideas and new solutions, the artists also pursue further goals in addition to aesthetic value. They address society in a new language and with new forms of presentation, also pursuing political goals. Their urge to change is also expressed in the subculture of comics and zines.

Over 70 exhibits are presented in three exhibition rooms. The virtual preview gives you a first idea of the exhibition and works on display. We are looking forward to your visit!

Virtual preview
Showcase – Artists’ books from the collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

 


Room 1 – William Blake | Kazimir Malevich | Marcel Broodthaers | Ed Ruscha | Max Ernst | Andy Warhol | Joan Miró | Joseph Beuys

Books should be slim. No lies. Nothing frivolous.

In the center of the first room, the only specimen of “Song of Los” by William Blake available in Germany is reminiscent of the text author, image creator and printer of his own books, the early “godfather” of the artist’s book. The motto of the room is a quote by Kruchenykh: “Books should be slim. No lies. Nothing frivolous.” It presents 36 works, frequently of small format. The exhibition starts with around 15 books by the European avant-garde, starting with the Italian Futurists. With their lithographic booklets, the Russian Futurists broke new ground as of 1912, shattering all aesthetic stereotypes. They turned the book into an autonomous work of art for the first time. Among other things, typographic experiments, photo compositions, dadaistic and surrealistic books are shown. Against this background, the novelty created by the artists’ books of the 1960s and 1970s becomes all the more visible.

 

 

George Maciunas: Fluxus 1, 1964 | BSB/ L.sel.III 38 © George Maciunas Foundation/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017
George Maciunas: Fluxus 1, 1964 | BSB/ L.sel.III 38 © George Maciunas Foundation/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Room 2 – Louise Bourgeois | Marina Abramović | Anselm Kiefer | Chuck Close | Katharina Gaenssler

Everything in the world exists to flow into a book.

The second room accommodates large-format, expensively produced works that were created predominantly in the course of the 1990s or 2000s. Its motto is a quote by Anselm Kiefer, inspired by Stéphane Mallarmé: “Everything in the world exists to flow into a book.” The fundamental differences between the manifold types of artists’ books become obvious here. Photographs, collages and the reuse of materials that the artist has come across frequently result in monumental, impressive works. The exhibition also features works by the Munich artist Katharina Gaenssler.

Katharina Gaenssler: Sixtina MMXII, 2012 | BSB/ L.sel.III 483 © Katharina Gaenssler
Katharina Gaenssler: Sixtina MMXII, 2012 | BSB/ L.sel.III 483 © Katharina Gaenssler

Room 3 – Pablo Picasso | Art Spiegelman | Keith Haring | Raymond Pettibon | Mike Kelley | Artist group Bazooka | Emil Siemeister

A new map of a new land.

Before I discovered the underground comics, I had never come across ‘radical’ or avant-garde art.

The third room is dominated by “flatware”: Leporellos, portfolio works, posters, scrolls, record covers illustrate the diversity of media types. The first part is inspired by a quote by Stephen Dupont: “A new map of a new land.” Here, works are gathered that have a socio-political objective, starting with the first work in which Picasso acts as author, illustrator, designer and editor in 1937, a political pamphlet against Franco and the war. Violations of human rights, slavery, racism, war and terror are addressed, expressed, protested against and branded in artists’ books. A remark by Mike Kelley characterizes the second part: “Before I discovered the underground comics, I had never come across ‘radical’ or avant-garde art.” “Ludo” by Keith Haring shows that street art had become respectable in 1985. The exhibition features comics, zines, an artist’s booklet by Raymond Pettibon and “Maus” by Art Spiegelman, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Finally, in a showcase of its own, the view opens onto the work by Emil Siemeister created specially for this exhibition, with drawings on transparent plastic films executed in luminescent ink.