DRESDEN.- The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
celebrate a remarkable anniversary. But we are not just celebrating 450 years of collecting in Dresden. Indeed, this occasion gives us the opportunity to look back to the future, both backwards and forwards in equal measure, declared Professor Martin Roth, Director General of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden at the opening of the State of the Art since 1560 anniversary exhibition.
As the year when Elector August moved on from merely accumulating quantities of individual precious objects, 1560 is a crucial landmark for the Dresden collections, he explained. The establishment of the electoral Kunstkammer in the Residenzschloss marked the beginning of systematic collecting in Dresden, characterised by interests in representation and the pursuit of knowledge. This is indeed an anniversary worthy of celebration. The State of the Art since 1560 exhibition highlights phenomena which have characterised approaches to the collections through the ages.
In its five major thematic sections, Creation - Longing Curiosity Confrontation Appeal, it presents visualisations of concepts of the future as a driving force for development, explained Dr Karin Kolb, curator of the anniversary exhibition. As in the early Kunstkammer period, objects made by master craftsmen and exhibits relating to the natural sciences are displayed here alongside curiosities and works of fine art. To achieve this, the anniversary exhibition has drawn on both the Dresden collections own vast reserves of artistic treasures, and on other former electoral and royal collections in Saxony. Loans from collections elsewhere, both in Germany and other countries, including the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in St Petersburg, complete the exhibition.
The Musée de la Renaissance in Écouen, France, has lent a wire-drawing bench more than four metres in length and dating from 1565. This extraordinary object was commissioned in Nuremberg by August the Strong, who wished to keep abreast of the technology of the times. He apparently used it himself to produce silver wire. Thanks to a loan from the Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich, Albrecht Dürers Mother of Sorrows and the seven panels previously surrounding it, The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin, can once more be seen together after a long separation of 420 years albeit only temporarily. The seven panels were separated from the central depiction of the Virgin as long ago as the 16th century.
Among other exhibits are Hans Schlottheims lobster automaton dating from 1590, seven paintings from the Sonderauftrag Linz [Linz Special Commission] (set up in 1939 to collect works for the Führermuseum planned for Linz) whose provenance had in part lapsed into obscurity, the fire-gilded planetary clock which testifies to August the Strongs fascination for astrology, and Javanese shadow puppets decorated with gold leaf never before have the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden mounted an exhibition with so many richly diverse exhibits.
The design of the exhibition is also committed to concepts of the future. The museum design company hg merz architekten has located the exhibits on platforms in the centre of the exhibition space, against a background of walls which are in places bare of plaster. This will be the last time that the former State Rooms of the Residenzschloss can be seen before they are closed for reconstruction. A media guide containing images and videos accessible via touch screen technology, and available in German, English Russian, Czech and Polish, has been produced for the exhibition. The multimedia concept created by jangled nerves of Stuttgart is rounded out by wall projections and a touch screen station.