COURBET. A DREAM OF MODERN ART
The French painter Gustave Courbet is one of the most fascinating artists of the 19th century. He is regarded both as a major pioneer of socially engaged painting (“The Stone Breakers”) and as a revolutionary of the Paris Commune (proposing to dismantle the Vendôme column). But Courbet also had an entirely other side: he was one of the greatest dreamers in history. In his portraits, landscapes, drawings and still lifes, he depicts a world of absorption, thoughtfulness and internalization – in stark contrast to the frenzied industrialization of his age.
More than 80 works from all over the world will present this “other” Courbet, who from a starting point in German Romanticism realized the vision of a poetic art of the Modern, later to be further developed by Cézanne and Picasso, and in the schools of Symbolism, Surrealism and Magic Realism. Many of his works radiate a kind of somnambulistic sensualism, and are set in remote areas isolated from the outside world and where nothing is secure: one reason why so many contemporary artists continue to refer to Courbet.
The exhibition is under the joint patronage of President Christian Wulff and President of the French Republic Nicolas Sarkozy.
Gustave Courbet (1819--1877) is the preeminent representative of Realism and the spearhead of a style of painting committed to socially relevant issues. His lifelike portraits defy the artistic convention of idealization. The painter had another side, however: in his portraits, landscapes, drawings, and still lifes, he depicted a contemplative, meditative, inward-looking world, which stood in stark contrast to the fast-paced industrialization of the period.