May 21, 2020 - Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - 300 Years of Kupferstich-Kabinett - Collecting in the Present
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May 21, 2020

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

Marlene Dumas, Rejects (unlimited series), 1994. SKD, Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden. © Marlene Dumas.

300 Years of Kupferstich-Kabinett - Collecting in the Present
June 12–September 14, 2020

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Residenzschloss Dresden
Taschenberg 2
01067 Dresden
Germany
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–6pm

T +49 351 49142621
presse@skd.museum

kupferstich-kabinett.skd.museum
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

300 Years of Kupferstich-Kabinett - Collecting in the Present
June 12–September 14, 2020

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Residenzschloss Dresden
Taschenberg 2
01067 Dresden
Germany
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–6pm

T +49 351 49142621
presse@skd.museum

kupferstich-kabinett.skd.museum
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

In 2020, the Dresden Kupferstich-Kabinett (Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs) will be celebrating its 300th anniversary as the oldest publicly accessible specialist collection for art on paper in the German-speaking countries. Since 1720, this institution has collected not only engravings (as suggested by its name) but also drawings, watercolours, etchings and other graphic works, and, since the late 19th century, also photographs. Illustrated books and posters are likewise included in the collection. Like most of the museums that make up the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, the Kupferstich-Kabinett is derived from court Kunstkam­mer (Art Chamber) established by Elector August (1526-1586), which was divided into separate museums over the course of the early 18th century.

The first exhibition in the anniversary year has the programmatic title "Sammeln in der Gegenwart" (Collecting in the Present). It will consider art from the point of view of its acquisition history and contemporary developments in each respective period. In its early days, the Kupferstich-Kabinett was a universal archive of visual ideas and a place of pictorial documentation, serving the needs of the court. At first, the function of the newly founded specialist museum differed little from that of the collections of prints held in the Electoral Kunstkammer. In the 18th century, it was mostly reproduction prints of paintings and sculptures that were collected, thus enabling the dissemination of knowledge about art and the world, while requiring only a small space. Printing, however, was also used time and again to record important historical events in pictures: for example, the series of engravings depicting the planetary festivals held by August the Strong as part of the wedding celebrations for his son and Maria Josepha, daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, in 1719, was intended as a means of demonstrating the Saxon ruler’s power and projecting his self-image.

The anniversary is an opportunity to review the past: the collection reflects not only the vagaries of history in times of war and peace, as well as the various social and political systems, but also aspects of art history, shaped by numerous generations of researchers, collectors, restorers and visitors. At the same time, however, the anniversary also provides the chance to look to the future and to stimulate public awareness of the Kupferstich-Kabinett and its almost inexhaustible holdings as a living, innovative and democratic institution—as a place animated by 300 years of creativity and knowledge, critical thinking and aesthetic enjoyment. Based on the multifaceted and global character of a museum alliance which aims to promote bridge-building across the various museums, the Kupferstich-Kabinett will not only display its holdings in its home in the Residenzschloss, but also show selected works in other museums of the Staatliche Kunstsammlun­gen Dresden. Another venue participating in the anniversary celebrations will be the Josef-Hegenbarth-Archiv (Josef Hegenbarth Archive), which contains the extensive body of works left behind by the artist and has belonged to the Kupferstich-Kabinett since 1998. All these places not only reflect the history and future of the Kupferstich-Kabinett, but also stimulate thought and raise questions.

Nowadays, cooperation agreements with the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden (Dresden Academy of Fine Arts) and the Sächsische Aka­demie der Künste (Saxon Academy of Arts), as well as generous donations and bequests from private collectors, provide additional impetus for contemporary acquisitions. The exhibition Crossing Borders. Sammeln für die Zukunft (Crossing Borders. Collecting for the Future) at the end of the anniversary year will illustrate the opportunities presented by collecting in the present day, and contemporary works, mostly on paper, will be on display. At the end of 2020 the Morgan Library & Museum in New York will be hosting 60 works from Dresden in an exhibition, thus presenting this outstanding collection on a prominent international stage. Supported by external professional colleagues, the staff of the Kupferstich-Kabinett will be publishing an extensive catalogue of the masterpieces in both English and German.

The Kupferstich-Kabinett sees itself as a museum that can offer fascination and orientation, where engagement with works of art can help inform the broad-ranging questions that characterise our present-day world: questions about identity, age, anonymity, participation and freedom. It is also hoped that the anniversary activities will point the way for collecting in the coming centuries. For the fundamental essence of the Kupferstich-Kabinett is as a place not only of preservation but also of openness and dynamism.

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