Runge’s Cosmos : The Morning of the Romantic Era / Hamburger Kunsthalle

Hamburger Kunsthalle

Runge’s Cosmos
The Morning of the Romantic Era
3 December 2010 – 13 March 2011
Gallery of Contemporary Art

Marking the 200th anniversary of his death, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is presenting the first major retrospective exhibition in over thirty years dedicated to Philipp Otto Runge (1777–1810).

Philipp Otto Runge

Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810)
Selbstbildnis mit braunem Kragen, 1802
Öl auf Leinwand, 37 x 31,5 cm
© Hamburger Kunsthalle/bpk
Photo: Elke Walford

Runge, who grew up in Wolgast, then lived in Copenhagen, Dresden and finally Hamburg, is considered one of the most versatile artists of the nineteenth century. Together with Caspar David Friedrich, he is the leading founder of German Romanticism. The exhibition Runge’s Cosmos pays tribute to this short-lived genius and his innovative artistic vision.

In his famous sequence of arabesque prints Times of the Day (1805/1807) and the paintings The Small Morning and The Large Morning (1808/1809), Runge gave apposite expression to the Romantic view of nature that was based on cyclical patterns of life. His colour theory continued to exert influence well into the twentieth century, and in the genre of portraiture Runge also made a considerable contribution. His series of self-portraits, for instance, offer compelling evidence of his self-questioning mind.

Philipp Otto Runge

Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810)
Der Kleine Morgen, 1808
Öl auf Leinwand, 109 x 85,5 cm
© Hamburger Kunsthalle/bpk
Photo: Elke Walford

Philipp Otto Runge

Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810)
Der Große Morgen, 1809
Öl auf Leinwand, 152 x 113 cm
© Hamburger Kunsthalle/bpk
Photo: Elke Walford

With his portrayals of children, particularly his painting of the Hülsenbeck Children (1805), Runge introduced a new way of seeing the infant individual in art. He was also a pioneering figure with his idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, the total work of art. Runge was inspired by the vision of incorporating various arts – poetry, painting and music – into a single architectural and spatial context. In his quest to renew art he served as role model for many artists of his time. A further instance of Runge’s versatility is offered by his delicate paper cuts also included in the exhibition – masterpieces of precise natural observation and abstraction.

Besides documenting the artistic process of his work, a crucial aspect of the exhibition is to show this visionary artist’s struggle to find definitive expression for his ideas. From the initial sketch to the finished painting, viewers are given the impression of looking over the artist’s shoulder while he works. Runge’s creative process provides the clues to a deeper understanding of his concept of the image and of art. New insights into Runge’s manner of working are to be expected from a project supported by the Philipp Otto Runge Foundation that is concerned with analyzing the painting techniques he employed. In the course of the project several of Runge’s major paintings were subjected for the first time to detailed analysis, the results of which are also documented in the exhibition.

Philipp Otto Runge

Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810)
Die Hülsenbeckschen Kinder, 1805/06
Öl auf Leinwand, 131,5 x 143,5 cm
© Hamburger Kunsthalle/bpk
Photo: Elke Walford

Philipp Otto Runge

Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810)
Probedrucke der Bildbeigabe zur
„Farbenkugel“, 1809
Kupferstich und Aquatinta, Aquarell,
21,6 x 18,7 cm
© Hamburger Kunsthalle,
Photo: Christoph Irrgang

A substantial part of Runge’s oeuvre belongs to the permanent collection of the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Additional loans from other international museums and private collections have now made it possible to present the entire panorama of his creative output. Runge’s Cosmos brings together 35 paintings, over 200 drawings, as well as 50 paper cuts and silhouettes. Among these are also several drawings which were previously thought lost or were unknown.

Courtesy Hamburger Kunsthalle
Bildmaterial © Hamburger Kunsthalle
Bildmaterial © Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kupferstichkabinett/bpk


Stampfli & Turci – Art Dealers

Disclaimer & Copyright


~ by Stampfli & Turci on December 4, 2010.

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