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Exhibition presents a unique lot of one-of-a-kind art books and drawings by Gerhard Altenbourg
Installation view.

DESDEN.- Since 2012 the Dresden Kupferstich-Kabinett (Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs) has been enhanced by a major treasure trove of 20th-century German draughtsmanship and book art. That was the year the museum succeeded in purchasing a unique lot of one-of-a-kind art books and drawings by the Thuringian artist Gerhard Altenbourg (1926–1989), an important draughtsman and graphic artist during the second half of the 20th century.

A quarter of a century after his death, the Kupferstich-Kabinett is taking this addition to its collection as the occasion for the exhibition “terra Altenbourg. The World of the Draughtsman”, on show at Dresden's Residenzschloss from 3 July to 29 September 2014.

Viewing some 90 works, visitors will be able to follow the various stages in Gerhard Altenbourg's creation of the artist's book, from the concepts behind the collage and self-citation to each very individually designed page. At the same time, the show offers intimate insights into a playful, poetic, often mysterious and sometimes surreal world of images and ideas; an exploration which underlines the artist's relevance to 20th-century German and European art history.

The exhibition title comes from an unfinished artist's book begun in the 1960s by Gerhard Altenbourg. It also refers to the artist's oeuvre as “terra incognita” – a “continent” with many aspects which remain unknown – which the exhibition allows visitors to discover and examine objectively. For the first time, the one-of-a-kind artist's books will be connected to the large-format drawings of heads and landscapes, plus a selection of woodcuts, lithographs and etchings. These will include the “Dulce et decorum” books (1955/1957), in which Altenbourg processed his traumatic experiences during the final months of the war, and “Jauchzer Juchzer Jachzer” (1977/1978), by comparison apparently a light, playful work, whose title alone hints at his affinity to Dadaism and surrealism.

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