Press

On this page, we have compiled all media-related information and press documents regarding exhibitions at the Museum Barberini. Please contact us if you have any questions, require additional material, or would like to schedule an interview:

Achim Klapp, Marte Kräher
presse@museum-barberini.com
T +49 331 236014-305/308

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Press Releases
  • November 11, 2019 | Press Release
    Impressionism in Russia: Dawn of the Avant-Garde (Nov 7, 2020–Feb 28, 2021)

    Even before 1900, Paris was a magnet for Russian artists. Here they encountered the works of Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir and were inspired by the themes and techniques of the French Impressionists. Back in Russia, they would paint outdoors and sense the fleeting nature of the moment as they depicted scenes of everyday Russian life. Artists who later joined the avant-garde likewise drew on Impressionist studies of light for their new art. This is the first exhibition to be devoted to the many facets of Impressionism in Russia. The show, a partnership with the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden, illustrates that the visual idiom around 1900 was international and integrates Russian artists into the modernist adventure in European art.

    The time these artists spent in Paris, the capital of European art, left its traces in Russian painting. The generation that followed Ilya Repin took their bearings from the west. The boulevards and cafés of Paris were a major theme around 1900. The artists studied not only the architecture, but also Impressionist urban views with their dramatic street fronts and bold perspectives. Nocturnal street lighting fascinated Konstantin Korovin and Nikolai Tarkhov, who popularised the motif.

    At home in Russia they put their memories of French Modernism to good use, painting en plein air and choreographing light on the canvas. It was a major impetus for landscape art and provided the first experimental arena for artists like Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova and Kazimir Malevich. They saw themselves as Impressionists before laying the foundations for Russian avant-garde art from 1910 onwards with their expressive Rayonism and non-representational Suprematism.

    The study of light in the landscape also had an impact on depictions of interiors. Rooms now became worthy of art as windows opened up vistas and let in sunlight to bring indoor spaces to life. Although interiors by French artists such as Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet had managed without daylight, Russian painters like Stanislav Zhukovsky and Valentin Serov tested the Impressionist effects of indoor light. Meanwhile, decidedly Impressionist themes such as walks through rural fields and meadows or still life with fruit and flowers were adopted into Russian art by painters like Ilya Repin, Igor Grabar and Alexei Jawlensky.

    The exhibition also shows how painters like Nikolai Tarkhov and David Burliuk built on Impressionist practice, rather like the Neo-Impressionists in France and the Expressionists in Germany, to construct planar surfaces of bright, powerful colours.

    Ultimately, the show features those works painted in Moscow before the First World War that transformed Impressionist light painting into the abstract metaphors of light that came to define the Russian avant-garde.

    On 14 November 2019 the 11th Symposium at the Museum Barberini will address the wide-ranging aspects of this theme. The presentations by such eminent experts as Olga Atroshchenko, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; Rosalind Polly Blakesley, University of Cambridge; Maria Kokkori, The Art Institute of Chicago; Susanne Strätling, University of Potsdam; Irina Vakar, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; Tatiana Yudenkova, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, will be published in the exhibition catalogue. You will find the programme at www.museum-barberini.com.

    With the Hasso Plattner Collection, the Museum Barberini places a major focus on French Impressionism. Every year, one of our three exhibitions is therefore dedicated to Impressionism from an international perspective and in a framework of international partnership.

    The Museum Frieder Burda, domiciled in Baden-Baden close to Germany’s border with France, has been fostering relations between the two countries for many years at the express wish of founder Frieder Burda. From the 19th century Baden-Baden was a refreshing summer residence and meeting-place for the European – and especially Russian – aristocracy, soon attracting artists and writers in their wake. Even today, the Black Forest town remains a favourite destination for Russian tourists.

    The exhibition will run at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam from 7 November 2020 until 28 February 2021 and then at the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden.

    Impressionism in Russia
    7 November 2020 to 28 February 2021
    Museum Barberini, Alter Markt, Humboldtstr. 5–6, 14467 Potsdam
    In partnership with the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, and the Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden.

  • November 5, 2019 | Press Release
    Invitation to the Museum’s Eleventh Conference: "Impressionism in Russia: Dawn of the Avant-Garde" 

    Thursday, November 14, 2019, 10 am–7 pm


    In the late nineteenth century, many Russian artists were inspired by the painting techniques of the French impressionists. They painted en plein air to capture the fleeting moment. Painters like Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, and Kazimir Malevich, who later became the avant-garde, developed their own new art from impressionist studies of light. The Museum Barberini will host this conference in preparation for the exhibition at the Museum Barberini from November 7, 2020 to February 28, 2021.
    In collaboration with the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

    10:00
    Welcome
    Dr. Ortrud Westheider, Museum Barberini

    10:15
    Visiting France: Artists from Russia in the Country of Impressionism
    Dr. Tatiana Yudenkova, Staatliche Tretjakow-Galerie
    In Russian with German interpretation

    11:15
    Realist Impressions or Impressionist Realities: A Complex Boundary in Russian Art
    Prof. Dr. Rosalind Polly Blakesley, University of Cambridge
    In English

    12:15
    Russian Impressionism: A New Perspective
    Olga Atroshchenko, Staatliche Tretjakow-Galerie
    In Russian with German interpretation

    14:30
    Force Fields of Perception: Words and Images around 1900
    Prof. Dr. Susanne Strätling, Universität Potsdam
    In German

    15:30
    Light as Topic of Impressionism in Russia
    Maria Kokkori, PhD, The Art Institute of Chicago
    In English

    17:00
    Impressionist Traditions in the Russian Avant-Garde
    Irina Vakar, Staatliche Tretjakow-Galerie
    In Russian with German interpretation

    Museum Barberini
    Alter Markt
    Humboldtstr. 5–6
    14467 Potsdam, Germany

    Admission € 10
    Students admitted free of charge
    Tickets can be purchased at www.museum-barberini.com

  • October 24, 2019 | Press Release
    Van Gogh: Still Lifes (2019/10/26–2020/2/2)

    Van Gogh: Still Lifes
    October 26, 2019 to February 2, 2020

    “Painting still lifes is the beginning of everything,” Van Gogh remarked in the winter of 1884/85. The exhibition Van Gogh: Still Lifes examines the experimental, ground-breaking character that Vincent van Gogh (1853­–1890) attributed to his still lifes. Now, for the first time, tribute is paid to the significance of this genre in his œuvre. In still life the artist attained singularity: this was the right medium for his struggle with the expressive power of colour. His persistent experimentation with the genre reflects his artistic development. Here, he pre-empted modernism, but without forsaking the important role that still life had played in Dutch painting ever since the 17th century. The result is an emblematic, existential art that continues to radiate energy today.

    During the single decade he was active as a painter from 1881 until his death in 1890, Van Gogh executed over 170 still lifes. As a genre, still life was a rewarding gateway into painting as it offered him a framework to experiment with painterly techniques and options. The paintings reflect his reponse to impressionism, which Van Gogh witnessed first-hand in Paris between 1886 and 1888, but also the influence of colour woodcuts from Japan. The still lifes describe his journey towards an ever freer, more intensive use of paint.

    The exhibition Van Gogh: Still Lifes has been organized by Dr Michael Philipp, Chief Curator at the Museum Barberini. Overall, it presents 27 of these paintings in a representative selection, illustrating the painter’s artistic evolution. It traces the œuvre from the studies in sombre, earthy tones painted during Van Gogh’s early period between 1881 and 1885 to the still lifes with brightly coloured fruit and flowers that he produced during his last years in Arles, Saint-Rémy, and Auvers.

    In collaboration with the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Under the patronage of H. E. Wepke Kingma, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Germany.

    Chapters in the Exhibition

    The exhibition Van Gogh: Still Lifes traces the key stages in the painter’s life and work, illustrating the significant role, which still life played in his artistic development, with a representative selection of 27 paintings.

    The Hague and Nuenen, 1881–1885

    Vincent van Gogh had already reached the age of 27 when he turned to art in August 1880. After a year of self-study, during which he practised drawing, he began painting in oils in the winter of 1881. He took lessons in The Hague from a cousin by marriage, Anton Mauve, a reputed artist of the Hague School. “Mauve immediately installed me in front of a still life consisting of a couple of old clogs and other objects, and so I could set to work,” Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in early December 1881. Still life was a rewarding gateway to painting. Still Life with Cabbage and Clogs is one of Van Gogh’s first paintings. Unlike Dutch artists of the 17th century, who often celebrated grand and exotic items or conveyed a symbolic message with their still lifes, Van Gogh depicted simple, everyday items and country fruit and vegetables. He confined his palette to a few muted colours, mostly shades of brown, sometimes tinged with red or green. Initially he was concerned with the spatial relationships between the objects, with form and perspective, but soon he began to address the use of colour: deeply struck by the books Les Artistes de mon temps (1876) by Charles Blanc and, in particular Du dessin et de la couleur (1883) by Félix Bracquemond, which he read several times, he began in autumn 1885 to experiment with colour contrast and nuances as compositional devices. Studies such as Still Life with Apples and Pumpkins were an exercise in “modelling with different colours”, as Van Gogh wrote to his brother in late September 1885.

    The artist was a great nature-lover, and this also finds comes to the fore in his still lifes. Van Gogh had a collection of birds’ nests built by many different species and kept them, along with stuffed birds, at his studio in Nuenen. Nests had been a common motif in Dutch still life during the 17th and 18th centuries but always within a larger arrangement alongside a vase of flowers, and often accompanied by various kinds of animals. Van Gogh was the first painter to devote an entire work solely to a bird’s nest. These paintings bear a symbolic meaning. Few other motifs are such powerful metaphors for family and a personal sense of safety. This last thought was certainly on Van Gogh’s mind when he depicted these birds’ nests, as a letter to his brother testifies. He enclosed a sketch of a single nest on which he had noted: “I feel for la nichée et les nids [the brood and the nests] – particularly those human nests, those cottages on the heath and their inhabitants”.

    Paris, 1886–1888

    When he moved to Paris in late February 1886, Van Gogh put not only the Netherlands behind him but also a spectrum of colour dominated by earthy, sombre tones and themes he had encountered in the peasant world. During the two years he spent in the French capital he developed a brighter, richer palette and an individual style. The path to this artistic breakthrough was laid in his floral still lifes. Van Gogh painted over 30 of them in his first summer in Paris. The motifs also gave him an opportunity to maintain his close affinity with nature in the urban environment. Van Gogh drew ideas from floral still lifes by contemporary artists whose works he first witnessed in Paris. The one he admired most was Adolphe Monticelli, who inspired Van Gogh to experiment with backgrounds of dark colour and lashings of thick paint.

    At that time , Paris was not only the hub of European cultural activity but also a hot-spot of horticulture, where the passion for flowers was shared by every social class. Public parks such as the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Voyer d’Argenson in nearby Asnières were popular with Parisians, and Van Gogh painted views of both places, as well as in the gardens that then still existed in Montmartre. Roses and Peonies could have been prompted by a floral still life by Édouard Manet. It was painted in June 1886, the month when Van Gogh saw his Peonies in a Vase of 1864. Two years later he was still writing enthusiastically in a letter to Theo about Manet’s free brushwork “in solid, thick impasto”.

    Like the impressionists, whose eighth exhibition he visited in May 1886, Van Gogh read Charles Blanc’s book Grammaire des arts du dessin about the law of simultaneous contrast. This states that the impact of tones on opposite sides of the colour wheel is mutually reinforced when they are placed directly side by side. Flowers with their many-hued petals provided a natural trove of strong hues that could be combined easily and at will. The fleeting impressionist feel of Van Gogh’s Parisian still lifes is accompanied by an expressive element: by making his brushwork visible, he was also declaring an artistic style.

    The format of his Still Life with Meadow Flowers and Roses, on display at the Museum Barberini, is unusual: it measures 100 x 80 cm and is one of the largest still lifes that Van Gogh ever painted – even bigger than his Sunflowers. It is a homage to summer and perhaps also a traditional memento mori to remind us that all life is transient, for the lush splendour of the colours and petals of these meadow flowers is only short-lived. No doubt he was equally fascinated by the radiant hue of the poppies. Claude Monet had recently celebrated this flower in landscapes like Poppies (1873, Musée d’Orsay, Paris). The Vase with Poppies from the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford has only recently been certified as an authentic Van Gogh, following a thorough examination at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It is on display here for the first time since this attribution and can be compared with the Still Life with Meadow Flowers and Roses, which features similar motifs.

    The significant artistic discoveries that Van Gogh made while living in Paris included, apart from coloured Japanese woodcuts, the work of the impressionists and neo-impressionists, which he witnessed in the early summer of 1886. Although he felt no allegiance to either of these movements, he derived important input from observing the latest trends.

    In spring 1887 he went painting in Asnières with Paul Signac, one of the pioneers of pointillism, and it was here that he painted the extended still life Interior of a Restaurant. From these pointillist efforts Van Gogh went on, by juxtaposing long, vigorous brushstrokes, to evolve the distinctive, dynamic technique that became a hallmark of his style.

    Van Gogh now began to animate the surroundings of the objects in his still lifes. At first, elaborate background wallpaper offered the chance to incorporate complementary contrasts of red and green, blue and orange. The paint in Carafe and Dish with Citrus Fruit is so thin in places that the canvas remains visible, reinforcing the picture’s delicate feel. Here Van Gogh used fine hatching to convey the volume of the lemons instead of modelling them out of the paint. In the still lifes with fruit that followed, the grounding that frames the loosely scattered objects draws vibrancy from the opposing angles of the hatching. In Grapes, Lemons, Pears, and Apples Van Gogh granted autonomy to the picture space by casting aside the illusion of three-dimensionality.

    In Paris Van Gogh remained aware of potentially emblematic readings and he transposed these into a modern form of art. The unusual combination of objects in Still Life with Plaster Statuette and the clearly legible book titles suggest that Van Gogh had a symbolic message to convey. The novels Germinie Lacerteux (1864) by the brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt and Bel-Ami (1885) by Guy de Maupassant, key works of literary naturalism, recount love affairs that bring ruin or social success. The statuette of Venus and the rose, her attribute since ancient times, are also references to the theme of love.

    Arles, 1888–1889

    After arriving in Arles in February 1888 Van Gogh, fascinated by the Southern spring in Provence, turned to landscapes. In rare still lifes he continued his formal experiments with colour and texture. For some years he had been eager to make a painting entirely in shades of yellow, and he did this in August 1888 with the Sunflowers. Today, these Sunflowers are the best-known still lifes in art history. Van Gogh painted four variations in August 1888 and three more the following January. The surviving versions are now in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery in London, the Neue Pinakothek (Bavarian State Painting Collections) in Munich, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art in Tokyo as well as a private collection – no museum will ever send these icons of art out travelling.

    The exhibition Van Gogh: Still Lifes presents a number of works drawn from the same context of his still lifes with sunflowers. One of these is the Basket of Lemons and Bottle, an experiment in monochrome painting, a procedure he had been trying to master for some time. The surface of the tablecloth, the structure of the basket and the shapes of the lemons are modelled by using gradations of yellow. The Vase with Zinnias, executed around the same time, also laid the ground for his Sunflowers. As in so many floral still lifes painted back in his first summer in Paris, Van Gogh set this bouquet in front of a richly dark, monochrome background, making the radiant colours of the blossoms stand out all the more brightly. In its dense profusion and close-up perspective, the bouquet appears almost monumental. The formula behind the composition is similar to that of the Sunflowers.

    Van Gogh sought not simply to depict things but “to imbue nature and objects with so much passion” (Antonin Artaud). Often his motifs were proxies for the artist himself and illustrate his identification with his paintings. The Still Life with a Plate of Onions also fits into the context of the Sunflowers. In this oblique self-portrait, Van Gogh described his personal circumstances in January 1889. He painted it shortly after his release from hospital in Arles. He had spent two weeks there after cutting off part of his left ear following an argument with Paul Gauguin. This still life takes artistic stock and testifies to his unbroken desire to paint. As soon as he returned from hospital, Van Gogh was eager to return to work; he wrote to his brother that he wanted to begin by doing some still lifes to get back into the way of painting. The burning candle evokes Paul Gauguin, whose looming departure in December 1888, after only two months, put an end to their time together and to the dream of an artists’ community, and it plunged Van Gogh into a severe mental crisis. In the still life Gauguin’s Chair (National Gallery, London), painted in November 1888, Van Gogh had set this burning candle on the chair as a proxy for his absent friend. The pipe and tobacco represent the artist himself: he had painted this pipe and open tobacco pouch once before in Van Gogh’s Chair (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), the counterpart to Gauguin’s Chair. There are onions in that still life too, in the wooden crate at the back to which he added his signature. Probably, then, these onions in the centre of the painting are yet another reference to himself. Onions are associated with tears and a sting of pain, but the green shoots also symbolize growth and self-expression.

    Still Life of Oranges and Lemons with Blue Gloves was painted a few days later, just before the repeats of the Sunflowers for Paul Gauguin. Perhaps the gloves left on this table are not only a winter accessory but also an expression of vulnerability and a desire for protection. Certainly, by placing his signature so visibly at the opening of one glove, Van Gogh was emphasising how important the garment was to him. Just a few months after he completed this painting, Van Gogh had himself admitted to the psychiatric clinic in Saint-Rémy.

    Saint-Rémy, 1889/90

    A Pair of Leather Clogs was painted in the seclusion of the clinic at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where Van Gogh produced about 140 works in the space of a year – although almost no still life. This painting consequently has a special significance. Shoes are an unusual motif for still life. Van Gogh first drew on it in 1881 in The Hague with the typical Dutch clogs, returning to it in Paris in 1886/87 with rows of boots and in August 1888 in Arles with the still life Shoes (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). He picked up the theme once more during his stay at the institute in Saint-Paul-de-Mausole. Here it symbolises a will to look ahead: with their openings turned to face the viewer, these shoes are an invitation to slip them on and walk away.

    Auvers, 1890

    In May 1890, after a year in the clinic at Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh moved to Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris. There the blossoming chestnut trees, the most powerful expression of the spring-time life force, must have imparted a sense of vitality to Van Gogh, always sensitive to nature’s signals. Within just two months – until his death on 29 July – he produced almost 80 paintings, including ten still lifes. In these pictures Van Gogh dismissed all impressionist notions of dissolving form. On 3 June 1890 the artist wrote to his brother: “And I also hope that I’ll continue to feel much surer of my brush than before I went to Arles”. This self-assurance comes across in the painting Blossoming Chestnut Branches. It was the biggest of Van Gogh’s later still lifes and the most expressive of them all. He continued to paint in bright colours, applying the technique he had forged in the South of France. Van Gogh breathed soul into the purportedly static genre of still life, as if the painter’s emotions were engrained within the things he depicted.

    www.museum-barberini.com/en/van-gogh

    While Van Gogh: Still Lifes runs in Potsdam, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main will be presenting its large-scale exhibition Making Van Gogh: A German Love Story. With altogether 70 works by Van Gogh on display at these two shows, only once before has so much art by Van Gogh been seen in Germany at once: back in 1914 when Paul Cassirer’s gallery in Berlin staged its ground-breaking retrospective.

  • July 26, 2019 | Press release
    Conference Reviving the Archive: Material Records in the Digital Age

    ConferenceReviving the Archive: Material Records in the Digital Age
    Thursday, September 19, 2019, 10am – 7pm, Museum Barberini, Potsdam

    As guardians of the collective memory, archives are vital for the future of art historical research. Access to archival information is of crucial importance for restitution and provenance research as well as in regard to the preservation of cultural heritage and of an artist’s legacy. Following the formation of the Presidential Advisory Commission for Holocaust Assets in 1998, several conferences have been devoted to this subject. However,

    with increasing demand for information in the digital age, European archival repositories must confront the broader challenges of making their material accessible. By utilizing

    the possibilities of digitization today, archival information worldwide can be systematized and crosslinked, allowing greater accessibility to these indispensable materials for scholars and researchers.

    This international conference will provide case studies of archival re-discoveries, highlight archives that are under-utilized and therefore a priority for concentration, and underscore the resources currently available to archive holders.

    With:
    Dr. Ortrud Westheider, Museum Barberini
    Elizabeth Gorayeb, The Wildenstein Plattner Institute, New York
    Dr. Meike Hoffmann, Mosse Art Research Initiative, Freie Universität Berlin
    Agnes Peresztegi, Attorney, Looted Art Litigation, New York and Paris
    Dr. Victoria Noel-Johnson, Scholar and Historian, Rome
    Walter Feilchenfeldt, Dealer, Curator, and Scholar, Zurich
    Vivian Endicott Barnett, Curator and Scholar, New York
    Dr. Nadine Oberste-Hetbleck, Kunsthistorisches Institut, University of Cologne with
    Dr. Günter Herzog, Head of Archives, ZADIK, Cologne
    Jane Bramwell, Head of Library and Archive, Tate, London
    France Nerlich, Director, Département des études et de la recherche, INHA, Paris with
    Sophie Derrot, Curator, Service du Patrimoine, INHA, Paris
    Prof. Dr. Chris Stolwijk, General Director, RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History, The Hague
    Christina Bartosh, PhD Candidate, University of Vienna
    Martin Lorenz, Director of Technology, Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Berlin
    Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel, President & CEO, Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam
    Christian Bartz, Chair of Internet Technologies & Systems, Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam
    Prof. Dr. Ralf Krestel, Head of Web Science Research Group, Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam

    The panels and discussions will be conducted in English.

  • July 11, 2019 | Press release
    Baroque Pathways: The National Galleries Barberini Corsini in Rome

    From July 13 to October 6, 2019, the Museum Barberini is presenting its first old master exhibition: Baroque Pathways: The National Galleries Barberini Corsini in Rome showcases 54 masterpieces from the collections of the Palazzo Barberini and the Galleria Corsini in Rome, among them an early work by Caravaggio, his painting Narcissus of 1597–1599. Tracing the birth of Roman Baroque painting in the wake of Caravaggio, its spread through Europe and development north of the Alps and in Naples, the exhibition explores the role of the Barberini as patrons of the arts and the Prussian kings’ yearning for Italy.

    The Barberini at the Barberini

    A selection of 54 masterpieces from the collections of the Palazzo Barberini and the Galleria Corsini has traveled from Rome to Potsdam. The Palazzo Barberini, the architectural inspiration for the Barberini Palace in Potsdam, holds one of the world’s most important collections of baroque paintings. Together with the Galleria Corsini, it is home to the Italian national galleries. Ortrud Westheider, Director of the Museum Barberini: “It is a great honor and a mark of recognition for the still young Museum Barberini to cooperate with the illustrious national galleries. It has always been our dream to collaborate on an exhibition with our renowned namesake in Rome.” Flaminia Gennari Santori, Director of the Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica, Rome: “We are delighted to present our museum and a part of our collection in Potsdam, a city with so many points of contact with the art and architecture of Rome.”

    Pietro da Cortona’s monumental ceiling fresco from the Gran Salone of the Palazzo Barberini welcomes visitors to the Potsdam exhibition in form of a ceiling projection. The famous painting celebrates the power of the Barberini, one of the most important families in seventeenth-century Rome. Virtues frame the Allegory of Divine Providence and present the papal tiara and the keys of Saint Peter’s. The fresco was commissioned by Maffeo Barberini, a patron of poets and men of letters who, as a young man, had his portrait painted by Caravaggio. Even before his election to the Holy See in 1623, he had surrounded himself with writers and scholars, and begun assembling an art collection. As Pope Urban VIII, he became one of the leading art patrons and transformed Rome into the capital of the Baroque. During his pontificate, the basilica of Saint Peter was completed and consecrated. New streets and squares were created that continue to shape the face of the city today. In the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1848), Urban VIII did not support any of the warring factions, preferring instead to remain neutral and to pursue his dream of initiating a Golden Age of painting, architecture, literature and music that would rival the Renaissance. Yet his pontificate was marked by the rise of violent assertion of religious dogma, which led to the Roman Inquisition. Galileo, a friend of Urban VIII, was investigated by the Inquisition and forced to recant his teachings.

    Caravaggio’s Narcissus

    Caravaggio’s focus on the decisive moment of a narrative brought about a new kind of art. His chiaroscuro effects broke with all accepted norms and made him one of the pioneers of baroque painting. His work was controversial: while his supporters praised his daring stylistic innovations, his detractors disparaged him as disrespectful and as an anarchist out to destroy the time-honored values of painting. Among the many outstanding works coming to Potsdam is an early work by Caravaggio, his Narcissus (1597–1599). Ortrud Westheider: “Caravaggio shows a young man looking at his reflection—Narcissus, whose vain infatuation with himself was his undoing. The painting is famous for its focus on the dramatic turning point. Its modernity, the way in which the painted image reflects the power and potential of painting, has lost none of its fascination.”

    Violence and Salvation: Caravaggio and his Circle

    Coinciding with the Counter-Reformation and religious wars across Europe, Caravaggio’s realism hit a nerve. The crusade against Protestantism, condemned as heretical, encouraged a new form of fervent piety and religious mysticism that is evident in Orazio Gentileschi’s emotionally charged painting Saint Francis Supported by an Angel (ca. 1612). At the same time, paintings like Giovanni Baglione’s Sacred and Profane Love (before 1603) testify to the violence of the period and to a new self-confidence on the part of the artists who responded to the tension between the artistic sophistication and strict clericalism of early seventeenth-century Rome.

    Like Caravaggio, the artists in his circle studied models who came from the poorest parts of Rome. This practice invested the monumental altarpieces and paintings of saints with an unprecedented poignancy. Devotional images came to life and were reinterpreted as scenes of everyday life. Thus Carlo Saraceni, another contemporary of Caravaggio, presents us with an unhappy Christ Child in his unglamorously domestic Madonna and Child with Saint Anne (ca. 1611).

    Dramas of the Demimonde: The Caravaggisti in Naples

    His involvement in a fatal brawl drove Caravaggio to flee Rome for Naples, then under Spanish rule. His style inspired numerous local artists. Luca Giordano and Battistello Caracciolo adopted not only his close focus and the monumentalization of his figures but also experimented with his dramatic lighting. They updated the stories of ancient philosophers and Christian saints and followed Caravaggio’s lead in presenting the historical events as if they unfolded on a stage. In Venus and Adonis (1637), Jusepe de Ribera chose the dramatic moment in which Venus lays eyes on her mortally wounded lover. The Spanish-born painter, who had seen Caravaggio’s works in Rome in 1615, admired his sense of drama and his consummate handling of implicit and explicit violence.

    Light and Shadow: The Caravaggisti in Northern Europe

    Painters from Flanders and France brought their artistic conventions to Rome and drew on the classically inspired style shaped by Raphael and Michelangelo. Simon Vouet and Matthias Stom adopted the strikingly lit interiors and nocturnal scenes popularized by Caravaggio and his circle. Their own treatment of light and shade—often symbolizing good and bad—became a new, highly specialized form of art that met with great acclaim in their home countries. Michael Sweerts’s The Artist at Work (mid-seventeenth century) similarly follows the chiaroscuro trend, but also mirrors the controversy about the competing styles of Caravaggio and Guido Reni, who had died in 1610 and 1642 respectively. Was art to depict reality, as Caravaggio contended, or was it, as Reni held, to emulate classical models and ideals? Playing with these opposing points of view, Sweerts defied the dogmas of the generations of artists before him.

    Allegories of the Arts: German Collector Preferences

    The Grand Tour, an educational journey which included an extensive sojourn in Italy and focused on antiquity, art and architecture, was an obligatory rite of passage for young European aristocrats. By the eighteenth century, private collections, like that of the Barberini, began to form an increasingly important part of the itinerary. For German princes, they became a model of their own collecting ambitions. They looked for classical subjects and had a penchant for allegories of the arts, epitomized in Rome by the work of Simon Vouet, Salvator Rosa, and Prospero Muti. The female figure holding a palette and paintbrush in Simon Vouet’s Allegory of Painting (Self-portrait) of the early 1620s is probably a portrait of Artemisia Gentileschi, the most famous female painter of the period. The exhibition presents two works by her from the collection of the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg (Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin Brandenburg).

    Gallery of Foolishness: Italian Baroque Paintings in the New Palace in Potsdam

    On loan from the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg, the two paintings, Lucretia and Sextus Tarquinius (ca. 1630) and David and Bathsheba (ca. 1635), leave the New Palace in Potsdam for the first time in 250 years to exemplify the influence of Roman baroque painting on German collections. When Frederick II (Frederick the Great), King of Prussia, acquired the paintings for the New Palace, he did not know that they had been painted by a woman. In 1769 he set up an Italian gallery with works by Giordano Bruni and Guido Reni as well as the two paintings now attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi. With its emphasis on biblical and mythological subjects, the gallery explored the disastrous consequences of male desire. The Prussian king, whose Sanssouci Palace, Ruinenberg and Barberini Palace drew on imperial as well as bucolic models, confronted his successor, Frederick William II, with this “Gallery of Foolishness.”

    Palazzo Barberini: The Architectural Model for the Museum Barberini in Potsdam

    The Museum Barberini was named after the Barberini Palace, built by Frederick the Great in central Potsdam. Destroyed in the Second World War, it was reconstructed as a modern museum on the original site by the Hasso Plattner Foundation between 2013 and 2016. The Prussian king, Frederick the Great, wanted an Italian piazza in Potsdam and found inspiration in an engraving of the Palazzo Barberini in Rome by Giambattista Piranesi. With this reference to Pope Urban VIII, a great patron of the arts, Frederick II laid claim to being an equally astute collector and connoisseur of art. Frederick and his successor, Frederick William II, commissioned numerous Italianate buildings in Potsdam.

    Museum Barberini as a Starting Point for an Exploration of Italy in Potsdam

    Complementing the exhibition Baroque Pathways, the Museum Barberini invites visitors to explore the Italian influence on Potsdam’s cityscape. The audio tour Italy in Potsdam on the Barberini App directs visitors to 30 Italianate buildings and works of art of the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Available in three languages (German, English and Italian), the self-guided city tour draws intriguing visual comparisons between Potsdam and Italy.

    Italy in Potsdam

    To mark the exhibition Baroque Pathways, the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg, the city of Potsdam and the Museum Barberini are turning the summer of 2019 into a citywide celebration of Italian art and culture. Guided tours, concerts, talks, film screenings, an open night at the Potsdam palaces, and many other events show Potsdam at it most Italianate. For more information on Italy in Potsdam, see (German only) https://www.potsdamtourismus.de/italien-in-potsdam/

  • June 17, 2019 | Press Release
    Picasso show draws 168,000 visitors to Potsdam

    The large-scale Picasso exhibition at the Museum Barberini, which attracted 168,300 visitors, came to an end yesterday. Ortrud Westheider, Director of the Museum Barberini, stated: “We are delighted that so many people came to see our exhibition dedicated to Picasso’s late work, making it the museum’s second most successful show after the opening exhibition dedicated to impressionism in 2017. This is all the more gratifying as the exhibition was open for just 87 days, eleven days less than last year’s Gerhard Richter show and 25 days less than the opening exhibition of the museum. We are immensely grateful to Catherine Hutin, daughter of Jacqueline Picasso, who parted with 136 works for Picasso: The Late Work. From the Collection of Jacqueline Picasso. With very few exceptions these were on display for the first time in Germany.” The selection for the Potsdam show was made by guest curator Bernardo Laniado-Romero.

    From July 13 to October 6, 2019, our new exhibition Baroque Pathways will showcase more than 50 masterworks from the National Galleries Barberini Corsini in Rome, including one of Caravaggio’s most important works, his painting Narcissus (1597–1599). This show is a central part of the Italy in Potsdam festival. Together with the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg, the Museum Barberini invites the public to extend their visit to explore Italianate architecture and art in the city and in Sanssouci Park—with the audio guide on the Barberini App, which is available in German, English, and Italian. The final exhibition of the year, Van Gogh: Still Lifes (October 26, 2019 to February 2, 2020) is the first show dedicated to this subject. With a careful selection of more than 25 paintings, it will explore the decisive stages in van Gogh’s life and work.

  • June 12, 2019 | Preannouncement
    Van Gogh: Still Lifes

    Van Gogh: Still Lifes is the first systematic exploration of this important theme in the artist’s work in an exhibition. Of the roughly 800 paintings that Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) created during his ten-year career as an artist, some 170—about a fifth—are still lifes. It is therefore all the more remarkable that there has never been a monographic exhibition dedicated to the genre of the still life in Van Gogh’s work.

    With exhibitions showcasing Henri-Edmond Cross and Pablo Picasso, the Museum Barberini launched a series dedicated to French modernist artists. Aspects of their work that have been neglected until now have been approached from new angles in international symposia held by the museum. In the autumn of 2019, the Museum Barberini will continue this series with the first exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s still lifes. The carefully chosen selection of 27 paintings traces the development of the artist’s work from the earthy tones and simple everyday objects of the early paintings and the floral still lifes of his time in Paris to his radiant, exuberant southern motifs.

    From his very first painting, Still Life with Cabbage and Clogs (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam)—created at the end of 1881 in The Hague—to the vibrant floral works painted in Auvers-sur-Oise in 1890, during the last months of the artist’s life, for example Blossoming Chestnut Branches (Foundation E. H. Bührle, Zürich), Van Gogh returned to still lifes time and again. He did so not just because he thought that floral paintings were easier to sell and would not require him to spend money on models, but above all to explore new pictorial means and possibilities in this genre. He drew on the work of Dutch masters of the seventeenth century—initially Rembrandt, later Jan Davidsz de Heem—but also tried to capture the play of light and shade on the canvas and conducted experiments with color. His choice of ordinary household objects around 1884 marks a break with the tradition of Dutch still life painting.

    Van Gogh: Still Lifes examines the artistic questions and decisive stages in Vincent van Gogh’s work and life. His still lifes reveal his response to impressionism, which he discovered in Paris between 1886 and 1888, but also show the influence of Japanese woodcuts. Many of his works are symbolically charged with personal references, from books to the recurring motif of a pair of shoes. His development towards an increasingly free, more vibrant handling of color, a central aspect of his work, can be reconstructed from his still lifes. In his letters, too, Van Gogh repeatedly stressed how crucial still lifes were for his artistic development, which shows the importance of this genre for his intensive self-reflection.

    The exhibition at the Museum Barberini was developed in cooperation with the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo and the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam and is also supported by international loans from museums including the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

    In preparation for the exhibition, the Museum Barberini held an international symposium on December 5, 2018. The proceedings will be published in the catalog accompanying the exhibition. Contributors include renowned Van Gogh scholars such as Sjaar van Heugten, Stefan Koldehoff, Eliza Rathbone, and Marije Vellekoop, as well as Oliver Tostmann, Michael F. Zimmermann, and Michael Philipp, chief curator of the Museum Barberini and curator of the exhibition. The exhibition catalog, to be published in German and English, will become the ninth volume in the Museum Barberini’s series of publications.

    The exhibition is under the patronage of S.E. Wepke Kingsma, the ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Germany.

  • May 27, 2019 | Press release
    One Million Visitors at the Museum Barberini

    Today the Museum Barberini was delighted to welcome its one millionth visitor. Sarah Robinson from London received a special gift from our director Ortrud Westheider to celebrate the occasion: a city break to Rome, the Eternal City, for two people, including flight, accommodation, and—as a highlight—a visit to the Palazzo Barberini, which in the eighteenth century was the architectural model for Frederick the Great’s Barberini Palace in Potsdam. This summer, the baroque masterworks of the Palazzo Barberini, which today houses Italy’s prestigious National Gallery of Ancient Art, will be shown in the Museum Barberini’s exhibition Baroque Pathways.Sarah Robinson will be able to see these baroque works in Rome in a special preview.

    “We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response of our visitors and their interest in our museum, our exhibitions, events, guided tours, and digital resources,” says Ortrud Westheider, Director of the Museum Barberini. “Both the public and the media have responded very positively to our first eleven shows, from the opening exhibition dedicated to impressionism to Behind the Mask: Artists in the GDR, or the Gerhard Richter show. More than 70,000 Barberini Friends visit us regularly, and more than 100,000 visitors use the Barberini App to access audio guides and curated content such as videos and podcasts. And about a third of our visitors borrow the media players available at the museum to use the app.”

    The opening of the Museum Barberini in 2017, an initiative by the co-founder of SAP, Prof. Dr. h.c. mult. Hasso Plattner, is regarded as the most successful launch ever of an art museum in Germany. The current exhibition, on display until June 2019, is dedicated to Picasso, showing more than 130 late works from the rarely seen collection of Jacqueline Picasso. From July 13 to October 6, more than 50 masterpieces from the Barberini Corsini National Galleries in Rome, including one of Caravaggio’s most important paintings, his Narcissus(1597–1599), will be on display in the exhibition Pathways of Baroque. The final show of the year, Van Gogh: Still Lifes(October 26–February 2, 2020) will be the first exhibition to focus on this theme. Showcasing more than 20 paintings, it will explore the decisive stages in van Gogh’s life and work. In the spring of 2020, the Museum Barberini will dedicate a major retrospective to the French impressionist Claude Monet, bringing together 110 works from every stage of his career. Among the highlights are paintings of Monet’s garden and pond in Giverny near Paris, including some of his famous Water Lilies.

  • May 20, 2019 | Press Release
    Conference on the exhibition West Meets East: The Orient in the Work of Rembrandt and His Dutch Contemporaries

    Thanks to its extensive trade with Asia, Africa, and the Levant, the city of Amsterdam was a vast emporium of goods from the Near and Far East. Dutch writers and publishers added to these material objects an intellectual and historical context for a better understanding of the Orient. Rembrandt and other painters of the Dutch Golden Age drew freely from these sources to enrich their art. The conference explores the engagement of Dutch artists with non-European cultures and examines their view of the Orient. The Museum Barberini, in collaboration with the Kunstmuseum Basel, hosts this conference in preparation for the upcoming exhibition West Meets East: The Orient in the Work of Rembrandt and His Dutch Contemporaries, which will be shown in Potsdam (June 27 to October 11, 2020) and in the Kunstmuseum Basel (October 31, 2020 to February 14, 2021).

    Mit
    Jan de Hond, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
    Michael Philipp, Museum Barberini
    Gary Schwartz, guest curator of the exhibition, Maarssen
    Erik Spaans, art historian, Amsterdam
    Arnoud Vrolijk, Leiden university libraries
    Roelof van Gelder, historian, Amsterdam

    All papers will be delivered in English.

    Thursday, June 6, 2019, 10am–7pm

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