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What is Love? Kunsthalle Bremen presents 40 works from various eras from its collection
Christiaen van Couwenbergh, Lovers, 1632. Oil on canvas, 108 x 128 cm. Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen.

BREMEN.- Love is a topic that concerns everyone. The critical role that love plays in our lives is also reflected in art. The exhibition “What is Love? From Amor to Tinder” (7 July to 21 October 2018) presents around 40 works from various eras from the collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen that focus on earthly love, lovers from mythology, narcissism, eroticism and the idealisation of beauty. The selection is complemented by five works by contemporary artists who explore the phenomenon of online dating. These works will be exhibited for the first time in a museum.

According to a recent study, satisfactory relationships are an important source of personal happiness for most Germans.* Several surveys have discovered that singles have a fairly detailed idea of what a rewarding partnership should look like. Why then are more people single than ever before? Shouldn’t the internet make the search for a partner easier?

First of all, the internet has nothing to do with love. Nevertheless, it has had a major impact on how we view love, courtship and relationships. What Cupid’s arrow accomplished in earlier times is done in the digital age by our fingers. They swipe right or left, searching for the perfect match – aiming straight at our heart. The internet is a new place to look for a partner and meet new people.

Since 2017 at the latest, “tindering” has become part of common German language use and the term has been added to the latest edition of the Duden (the defining dictionary of the German language), referring to the use of the Tinder app. For contemporary artists, Tinder, along with other dating apps and portals, has provided a motivation to explore the topic further. A selection of five contemporary works focusing on online dating will be presented in this exhibition and contrasted with around 40 historical and modern works from the collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen. In five sections the exhibitions explores universal questions of love, incorporating philosophical, sociological and economic aspects.

The Five Chapters: Prototypical Couples, Real Couples, Narcissism, Beauty and Eroticism
The exhibition starts with prototypical couples that continue to define our idea of partnership in the Christian pictorial tradition, such as the story of Adam and Eve – which to this day remains a pivotal motif in art.

Subsequently, the exhibition will examine real couples and examine how the invention of romantic love around 1800 changed ideas of relationships. Romantic love may have replaced politically or financially motivated marriages, but users of online dating platforms frequently reveal unromantic or even economically-motivated patterns of behaviour.

The individual as such and the degree to which a happy relationship can be associated with one’s own personal development and the ability to love will also be examined.

In addition, the exhibition takes a look at beauty since physical appearance plays a major role in online dating.

In the final section, the exhibition cuts to the chase: sex. Whereas virginity was a status symbol in earlier times, sociologists today observe the opposite: sexual experience is desirable and makes people more attractive.

Artists on display
A total of around 60 works of art will be included in the show. Forty objects from the collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen, ranging from the sixteenth century to the present day, will be on display. The paintings, photographs, works on paper and sculptures were created by Jean Baptiste Carpeaux, Carl Friedrich Demiani, Jean Baptiste Deshayes, Anselm Feuerbach, Gaetano Gandolfi, Nan Goldin, Hendrick Goltzius, Hermann Hahn, Adriaen Isenbrant, Giovanni Battista von Lampi the Elder, Aristide Maillol, Pierre Mignard, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Markus Theodor Rehbenitz, Douglas F. Robinson, Renée Sintenis, Adolph Steinhäuser, Carl Steinhäuser, Christiaen van Couwenbergh, Charles van Loo, Pieter Christoffel Wonder and Tom Wood.

The works that address online dating, were created by the Australian artist Tully Arnot, the Turkish photographer Eylül Aslan, the Bremen artist trio Katharina Dacrés/ Lena Heins/ Jakob Weth, the Indian illustrator Indu Harikumar and the Dutch artist Dries Verhoeven.

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