Water, Clouds, Wind

30 September 2016 – 18 June 2017, extended until 3 September 2017

WWW – Wasser, Wolken, Wind (Water, Clouds, Wind)
Natural phenomena in works from the Würth Collection

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters (Gen 1, 1–2).

Otto von Thoren, Seebad in Trouville, vor 1889

Following exhibitions centred on wide-ranging art and cultural history observations relating to the themes of the Forest (2011/12), the Concept of Man (2012/13) and the Animal (2013/14), the equally broad significance of the flowing, resp. fleeting elements now shifts to the focus of a collection exhibition at Kunsthalle Würth.

Water, clouds and wind in their myriad manifestations determine the climate of our planet earth and form part of our everyday lives. They have fascinated man and also been reflected in his art since time immemorial.

Water is a key element in the history of mankind. Thanks to it multifarious forms (spring water, stream, river, ocean, but also as swamp, sea spray or a still lake) water has found rich expressive forms in the formation of symbols: in mythology, religion, philosophy, art and psychology. It is closely linked with concepts of creation and destruction, life and death, fertility and transience, as well as with the unconscious. The history of its exploitation and use extends back to the earliest settlements.

Kunsthalle Würth, © Ufuk Arslan

The works in the Würth Collection contain a great diversity of references to this natural phenomenon, impressively expressed across all epochs and in different materials. We can therefore present a particularly varied exhibition of art from the Middle Ages to the present day, complemented by several works on loan. The arc ranges from the depiction of the primal element water – be it as the origin of all life in the painting Die Quelle (The Source) by Dieter Hacker, or pointing to amniotic fluid in the installation Chromosome by Antony Gormley – to the reproduction of coastal and river landscape since the 19th century, to the invention of submarine worlds such as are to be found in Peter Pongratz or in the current works of Jürgen Schmidt. Moreover, its different aggregate states, from solid to fluid to gas form, are reflected in the countless artistic engagements with it by artists from Philipp Bauknecht to Johannes Gervé.

Both the wind, possibly manifest as a whirlwind or an uncanny doldrums, and the clouds, with their constantly changing forms and their fleetingness, interact with water. These phenomena, which are pleasant yet also ominous, inspire the myths, literary texts and artworks of all regions and epochs. They range from the ancient idea of God appearing in a cloud, to the omniscient internet and its particular clouds that see everything and forget nothing.

The Salvator Mundi of a Bavarian Master active around 1500, who rules the world from the clouds, and very topical positons by young artists will be joined by masters of Classical Modernism such as Max Liebermann, Edvard Munch, Camille Pissarro and others. Also represented in the exhibition are Karl Horst Hödicke, Anselm Kiefer, Bernd Koberling, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Longo, Gerhard Richter, and many more. Through more than 200 works, therefore, the exhibition WWW – Wasser, Wolken, Wind follows the impressive strategies developed by artists over the centuries so as to render the world of the flowing resp. fleeting elements visible, while at the same time taking the viewer on an exciting journey of discovery.

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