April 27, 2004 - Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt - Ideal Worlds – New Romanticism in Contemporary Art
April 27, 2004

Ideal Worlds – New Romanticism in Contemporary Art

Ideal Worlds - New Romanticism in Contemporary Art

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 
60311 Frankfurt, Germany
phone: (+49-69) 29 98 82-0
fax: (+49-69) 29 98 82-240


Peter Doig: “Figure in a Mountain Landscape II”, 1998/99, oil on canvas, 289 x 199,5 cm, Courtesy: Philadelphia Museum of Art.   


Lectures by Peter Doig and Werner Hofmann on the occasion of the exhibition “Ideal Worlds – New Romanticism in Contemporary Art”


13 May 2004
Peter Doig

21 September 2004
Werner Hofmann


May – September 2005

From May to September 2005, the Schirn will show the exhibition “Ideal Worlds – New Romanticism in Contemporary Art.” As the presentation approaches, the Schirn offers two talks as part of its SCHIRN FORUM 2004 series: a lecture by the painter Peter Doig on 13 May 2004 and a lecture by the doyen and expert on Romanticism Werner Hofmann on 21 September 2004. Like past SCHIRN FORUM events, the talks will focus on the subject of the exhibition one year before its presentation.

In Western society, which is characterized by an increasing mobility and waning social relationships and networks, intimacy and security have become the objects of a new longing. It is not only the restructuring of social and political systems that produces a growing sense of unease. Sated with bad news, war reports, and devastating images of terror, people begin to search for places offering protection and refuge. The wish for ways out, for ideals, and for sheltering perspectives becomes more and more urgent – and ends up in the yearning for an ideal world.

Contemporary fine art also reflects this social context: after the deconstructivist, discourse-analytic analyses of the eighties and nineties, social discourses in the fine arts, and the conversion of art into a social intervention, the scene is characterized by a quite emphatic renaissance of the traditional work which manifests itself not only in recurrent revivals of painting. Numerous young artists draw unerringly on the spirit of Romanticism, on the longing for the paradisiacal, beautiful, and magical. With this development, the sense of shame at serious pictures and visual pleasures seems to have been definitely overcome. The Romantic motific canon is not limited to painting but also pervades the postmodern key media such as photography, installation art, and video art.

The concentration on the individual and their personal feelings is linked with a reawakened interest in the representation of landscapes. The symbolically charged beauty of nature becomes an adequate expression of moods. Against the backdrop described above, the fundamental Romantic feeling of loneliness seems to be the concern of most contemporary representations. Loneliness is a disposition we come upon in a wide range of motific strands outlining a topography of emotions and thus continuing the Romantic revaluation of the scenery and discovery of its symbolic qualities. This context comprises a variety of formulations dealing with a number of issues ranging from the threatening of the idyll to its conjuring, from an overpowering external vastness to nature as a space for perceiving the transcendental. The significance of the pictures’ form of conveyance in a medium is the message of Postmodernism and the immediate experience of nature in historical Romanticism.


13 May 2004, 7.00 p.m.
Peter Doig

Peter Doig, born in Edinburgh in 1959, was raised in Canada, studied in London, and lives in Trinidad today. Doig’s painting relates to the history of painting but is not aimed at bringing it to a close. Though it is fuelled by the reservoir of a long tradition of landscape painting, it is firmly anchored in today’s life. His work, which insists on narrative painting against all trends, will occupy a central position in the exhibition “Ideal Worlds – New Romanticism in Contemporary Art.” In his lecture, Peter Doig will talk about his work in the thematic context of the exhibition.

21 September 2004, 7.00 p.m.
Werner Hofmann
“How often has ‘Romanticism’ already changed its appearance?”

Werner Hofmann, born in 1928, Dr. phil. and professor of art history, was the founding director of the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts in Vienna from 1960 to 1969; until 1990, he was director of the Hamburger Kunsthalle. His renown is based on his lectures and activities as a teacher, as well as on his publications, especially those dedicated to the art of the 19th and 20th centuries, and numerous significant exhibitions such as the series of presentations in Hamburg “Kunst um 1800″ (“Art around 1800″). In his talk at the Schirn, Werner Hofmann will highlight the manifold connections between modernity and Romanticism and answer the question whether Romanticism is a concept to be relied on.

DIRECTOR: Max Hollein CURATORS: Max Hollein, Martina Weinhart
INFORMATION: www.schirn.de

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
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