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10 May 2012

Déjà-vu? at Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe

Aneta Grzeszykowska, Untitled Film Still # 22 (Serie: Untitled Film Stills), 2006
C-Print, ca. 20 x 25 cm, Raster Gallery, Warschau © Aneta Grzeszykowska / Courtesy Raster Gallery Warschau

Déjà-vu? The Art of Reproduction from Dürer to YouTube
Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe


Opening times: Tuesday - Friday 10-17; Saturday, Sunday and on holidays 10-18; closed on Mondays
Exhibition till the 5th of August


+49 721/926 3359
+49 721/926 6788

Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe
Hans-Thoma-Str. 2-6
76133 Karlsruhe

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The phenomenon of copying is as old as art itself. However, in the era of 'copy and paste', the question of the value of copies has gained renewed relevance. The Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe is holding a project in cooperation with the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG) to investigate the many forms, functions and motifs of copying. Compositions by famous old masters such as Albrecht Dürer or Titian have been studied and copied by artists of all periods. To pay due credit to the many facets and significance of copying throughout the ages, the exhibition covers a broad time span beginning with the art of the late Middle Ages through to modernism, contemporary art and the World Wide Web. Some 120 artworks will be on display including works by Albrecht Dürer, David Teniers the Younger, Eugène Delacroix, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Giorgio de Chirico, Cindy Sherman, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Yinka Shonibare.

The goal of the exhibition is to trace the phenomenon of copying and reproduction from the late Middle Ages up to the present day. Outstanding examples spanning seven hundred years of art will be presented and juxtaposed with each other. The voyage through the eras illustrates that the estimation of copies and originals has varied considerably over the course of time as they have fulfilled a variety of functions. The historical perspective of the show has relevance for today, as it enables us to identify certain constants and consider the currency of the topic in a new light. Rather than seeing copies as mere reproductions or inferior imitations, a further aim of the exhibition is to acknowledge them as aesthetic feats in their own right, accomplished in their historical context.

The exhibition also hopes to help define the current status of the museum as an institution. Traditionally seen as place to safeguard the original, the museum is now more than ever called upon to analyse the categories of 'original', 'copy' and 'reproduction' and to discuss present issues regarding authenticity.

Paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and even installations from a period of seven centuries create a richly varied visual arena. Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Pieter Brueghel the Younger represent the practice of copying in the early modern age. Their works are juxtaposed with the techniques of Giorgio de Chirico and Jonathan Monk. Representatives of the inventive art of copying in the 19th century include Eugène Delacroix and Vincent van Gogh, while Franz von Lenbach stands as an example of an artist who was openly commissioned to make faithful copies of old masters. Marcel Duchamp stands for the modern discourse on originality and authenticity that was continued by Elaine Sturtevant, Richard Pettibone and Mike Bidlo in the 1960s. Artists such as Yinka Shonibare and Hiroshi Sugmioto demonstrate both a free and deliberate application of the artistic tradition. The re-staging or reproduction of artworks on the Internet not only ties in with current discussions but is also associated with historical forms of copying.

The exhibition, a pilot project for Karlsruhe, was put together in cooperation with the University of Arts and Design (HfG) – a leading institute in research on contemporary culture and media phenomena. Coordinating the university's involvement in the project were Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (art research and media theory) and Prof. Wilfried Kühn (exhibition design and curatorial practice). The Kunsthalle team comprises the curator for modern art, Dr. Alexander Eiling, and Dr. Ariane Mensger, lead by director Pia Müller-Tamm. Assistant: Juliane Betz M.A.

A comprehensive catalogue (around 400 pages in length) with essays and analyses of artworks is due for release to accompany the exhibition (Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld).

The exhibition is sponsored by the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, the Ernst von Siemens Foundation, the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Cultural Foundation of Sparkasse Karlsruhe.