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Event Item: 00056
Turner - Hugo - Moreau: The Discovery of Abstraction
Exhibition: 6th Oct 2007 to 6th Jan 2008
The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt presents the beginning of Abstract Art as manifested in the works of William Turner, Victor Hugo and Gustave Moreau.

Long before abstraction was declared an avant-garde art form in the twentieth century, painters and graphic artists were creating images without any recognizable objects. The most prominent examples are found in the oeuvres of the landscape painter J. M. William Turner (1775-1851), the poet and draughtsman Victor Hugo (1802-1885) and the French "Symbolist" Gustave Moreau (1826-1898). The exhibition "Turner - Hugo - Moreau" represents the first endeavour to compare these three nineteenth-century authors of abstract imagery by juxtaposing some 130 of their watercolours, oil paintings, sketches and drawings, many of them unpublished to date. In contrast to previous presentations, the show emancipates itself from the perspective which takes the abstract art of the twentieth century as its vanishing point, and proposes a reassessment: The primary concern here is not "where do these abstract works lead?" but "what tradition do they follow?". In its effort to answer this newly formulated question, the exhibition is more than just a presentation of the three artists' oeuvres. With 80 further paintings, albums, rare books and art objects, it moreover draws attention to the two traditions forming the basis for abstract imagery since the eighteenth century: on the one hand the fascination with "blots" - "pictures" created by chance - and on the other hand the aesthetics of effect, i.e. theoretical reflections on how the means of painting affect the viewer.

The exhibition "Turner - Hugo - Moreau. The Discovery of Abstraction" is being carried out with the support of Lazard & Co. GmbH and the Verein der Freunde der (Society of Friends of the) Schirn Kunsthalle e. V. Further funds are being provided by the Mercure Hotel & Residenz Frankfurt Messe, the Novotel Frankfurt City and the Georg und Franziska Speyer'sche Hochschulstiftung.

Max Hollein, the director of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt: "Turner, Hugo, and Moreau discovered the qualities and potentials of lines, blots and colours and took a profound interest in non-representational pictures. They conceived of these drawings and paintings as experiments, idle pastimes, sketches and studies. As a rule, therefore, the drawings, watercolours and oil sketches on display here were not intended by their authors for viewing by the public, and are now being shown in this combination for the first time - an undertaking which in effect leads to a reappraisal of the abstract art of the twentieth century."

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