CULTURE MAGAZINE

EXHIBITION
Outstanding! – The Relief from Rodin to Taeuber-Arp

13.10.2023 - 25.02.2024Kunsthalle in Hamburg
E
Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889–1943)
Muscheln und Blumen (Coquilles et fleurs), 1938
Öl auf Holz, 60 x 60 x 7,7 cm
Aargauer Kunsthaus Aarau und Gottfried Keller-Stiftung
Bundesamt für Kultur, Bern Foto: Jörg Müller
Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889-1943)
Shells and Flowers (Coquilles et fleurs), 1938

Oil on wood, 60 x 60 x 7.7 cm
Aargauer Kunsthaus Aarau and Gottfried Keller Foundation
Federal Office of Culture, Bern Photo: Jörg Müller
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The renaissance of the relief

Over the centuries, relief, an art form that lies between the three-dimensionality of sculpture and the two-dimensionality of painting, has inspired and challenged artists time and again. This art form, whose roots go back to antiquity, experienced a remarkable renaissance in the 19th century. Artists such as Auguste Rodin and Medardo Rosso began to push the traditional boundaries of sculpture, opening up new artistic perspectives. The exhibition “Outstanding! – The Relief from Rodin to Taeuber-Arp” sheds light on the historical development of the relief and its significance in art history.

Pablo Picasso Violin (Violon), 1915
Sheet metal, painted, and iron wire,
100 x 63,7 x 18 cm
Musée national Picasso, Paris
© bpk | RMN - Grand Palais | Béatrice Hatala
© Succession Picasso 2022 / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022
Pablo Picasso Violin (Violon), 1915
Sheet metal, painted, and iron wire,
100 x 63,7 x 18 cm
Musée national Picasso, Paris
© bpk | RMN – Grand Palais | Béatrice Hatala
© Succession Picasso 2022 / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Experiments in form and colour

In the transition to the 20th century, relief underwent a further evolution. Artists such as Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse began to explore new forms and colours in relief by questioning traditional techniques and integrating innovative materials and techniques into their works. These artists were instrumental in removing relief from its traditional role and establishing it as a medium of modern artistic expression. Their works are characterised by a more intensive examination of the dynamics of light and shadow as well as the texture of the materials used. In addition, the combination of painting and relief sculpture enabled the artists to blur the boundaries between the different art forms and open up new avenues for artistic experimentation.

Hasns Arp (1886-1966)
Egg board, 1922 painted wooden relief, 76.2 x 96.5 cm
Private collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022
Hasns Arp (1886-1966)
Egg board, 1922 painted wooden relief, 76.2 x 96.5 cm

Private collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

The relief as a social mirror

In the 20th century, the relief finally became an important means of expression for a wide variety of art movements. Artists such as Willi Baumeister, Oskar Schlemmer and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, who were associated with the Russian avant-garde and the Bauhaus, utilised relief to manifest their visions of a new society. This period of art was characterised by the use of everyday objects and unconventional materials, which were incorporated into relief art. The Dadaists in particular revolutionised relief art through the integration of everyday objects and waste materials. These works of art not only reflected contemporary social and political issues, but also questioned the role and function of art in society.

Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943)
Ornamental sculpture on a split frame, 1919/1923 Wood, coloured and bronzed, oil on chalk ground
90 x 68 x 4.2 cm
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf
© bpk / Kunstsammlung NordrheinWestfalen, Düsseldorf
Photo: Walter Klein
Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943)
Ornamental sculpture on a split frame, 1919/1923 Wood, coloured and bronzed, oil on chalk ground

90 x 68 x 4.2 cm
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf
© bpk / Kunstsammlung NordrheinWestfalen, Düsseldorf
Photo: Walter Klein

The relief in contemporary art

From the 1950s onwards, artists such as Jan Schoonhoven, Piero Manzoni and Karl Hartung developed the relief further by emphasising surface structure and materiality. Artists such as Louise Nevelson and Lee Bontecou made their mark on the art world with expansive material objects and set new standards in relief art. They explored the possibilities offered by relief to create spatial depth and complexity. Their works are characterised by an intensive examination of the material nature and visual effect of the relief form. These recent developments in relief offer the viewer a multi-layered experience that touches on both the physical and conceptual levels of art.

Further information

The exhibition “Outstanding! – The Relief from Rodin to Taeuber-Arp” (Advertisment) on the website of the Kunsthalle Hamburg.

Book cover "Outstanding! The relief from Rodin to Picasso"
© Prestel
Book cover “Outstanding! The relief from Rodin to Picasso”
© Prestel

Exhibition Book

The book “Outstanding! The Relief from Rodin to Picasso”, edited by Alexander Eiling, Eva Mongi-Vollmer and Karin Schick, is a lavish publication accompanying the exhibition at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Published by the renowned Prestel Verlag, the 264-page book offers an in-depth examination of the relief, an art form that combines sculptural and painterly elements.

TitleOutstanding! The relief from Rodin to Picasso
EditorAlexander Eiling, Eva Mongi-Vollmer, Karin Schick
PublisherPrestel
EinbandHardcover
Pages264
LanguageGerman
ISBN978-3-7913-7985-2
Price49,00 €

Further information on the book “Outstanding! The relief from Rodin to Picasso” (Advertisment) on the website of the Prestel Verlag.

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