Travelling in Contemporary Art
07 October 2020 – 10 January 2021
Since the times of the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era, many artists have set out on journeys – in search of new contacts, artistic inspiration, or simply to find work. Initially this led to encounters with the “classic” clients, the church and the nobility, but also increasingly with a new circle of customers: the rising and now prosperous bourgeoisie who – thanks, for example, to flourishing trade and increasing productivity – could now afford to follow the lead of the aristocrats and commission artists to produce paintings and sculptures.
While, in the 19th century, Italy was the go-to place for many northern European artists, during the epoch of classical modernism they set their sights on much farther-flung destinations, like Africa, or the South Sea islands with their promise of paradise-like conditions. Some brought trend-setting inspirations back with them from their journeys; others – if they returned at all – came back disillusioned and cured of wanderlust.
Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, there is hardly any other group of professionals that is on the move quite as much as artists. They accompany their works to exhibitions, art shows and auctions, set up their installations in situ, hold performances, or participate in scholarship and research trips. Many artists today increasingly defy categorisation with national attributes as they are internationally active, living and working in Berlin, or New York, or London. The evolution from localism to digital globalism is reflected in their résumés. And then, of course, there are the many possibilities of digital exchange as sources of inspiration.
Experiencing the reality of travelling
In 2020 – parallel to the exhibition on Albrecht Dürer – the Ludwig Forum for International Art’s exhibition “Bon Voyage! Journeys in Contemporary Art” will present a selection of contemporary artistic positions in which the journey itself is central to the artists’ works, in which courses are charted between utopia and failure. In other words: artistic positions which – in contrast to ubiquitous virtual “voyaging” on the Internet – utilise physical journeys in the real world as opportunities to explore their diversity and their many challenges and problems and to interpret these through art.
The exhibition will offer a view of the world through the eyes of artists on the move – often far away from beaten tourist tracks. Their motifs include the Arctic and the Amazon, the Great Wall of China and Shenzhen – China’s own “Silicon Valley” – colonialism and rare earths, nomadism, migration and, ultimately, the challenge of finding one’s way in our globalised world. The exhibition will feature a wide variety of installations, videos, objects, photos and graphic artworks that convey the full fascination and significance of “creative journeys”.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a wide-ranging support programme of events and workshops including readings, dance theatre and action days for large and small visitors alike.
Myriam Kroll, Holger Otten
An exhibition catalogue with numerous illustrations will be published in German and English.