Museen are currently living through paradoxical times. The permanent exhibitions are deserted, while some of the special exhibitions are so packed that there could be a risk of infection if the vast majority of museums did not benefit from their spatial opulence, which often dates back to the nineteenth century. While one can effortlessly walk through ten halls in one of the world’s best collections, the Berlin Picture Gallery, without encountering another visitor, all the intelligently designed special exhibitions are well filled. There are long queues in front of “Rubens” in Stuttgart’s Staatsgalerie and “Rembrandt” in the Städel Frankfurt that you thought you’d never see again. The “Russian Impressionism” in the Potsdam private museum Barberini closed with 150,000 visitors, “Paula Modersohn-Becker” in the Frankfurt Schirn already reports 80,000 two weeks before the end – the longing for the original after the forced digital dry spells is obviously great. However, the fact that reference stocks are always available has a problem everywhere, paradoxically not least because almost everything can be called up digitally and in high resolution on your home screen without having to leave your cozy apartment.
Switzerland’s second largest art collection, with eight hundred thousand works, in the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva was only too aware of this problem. Its director Marc-Olivier Wahler combined the useful with the pleasant. He gave carte blanche to the renowned curator and former director of the Center Pompidou in Paris and the Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, Jean-Hubert Martin. He was allowed to clear out a complete floor of the “reference collection” of the huge museum and rearrange it as a special exhibition on the free three thousand five hundred square meters as he saw fit. The result is eight hundred and fifty objects under the title “Judge for yourself!”, which explain each other and purely visually – not a single text in the room insists, nothing tells the visitors what they should think about the pictures. It is noticeably moving away from the instruction manual exhibitions, in which, for example, cumbersome abstract art is to be explained in a way that is “understandable” and consumable through lengthy explanations.
Jean-Hubert Martin calls his approach “pensée visuale”, figurative thinking. Stimulus and emotion should come well before the crispbread-pedagogical transfer of knowledge. In fact, until the mid-nineteenth century, museums were mostly run by artists, almost never to the detriment of the art purchased and exhibited. Because from 1850 the museums and the sciences became more and more specialized and soon houses for European, African, Oceanic or Indian art stood side by side in one and the same city without any connection, the curator tries these arts again under the heading of all-connecting, pictorial creativity bring together. In fifteen chapters, Martin offers new visual food for thought that are not restricted by themes (all read “From . . . to”, for example “From Bacchanal to Bistro” or “From Fraud to Beheading”) – in none of them are they in this form find museum. They are more reminiscent of the legendary Parisian show of the Surrealists in 1936, in which Breton, Dalí and Co. under a sky made of concrete sacks and at the same time as in a baroque art chamber with relish naturalia With Artificialia sewn together, and in particular to Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne atlas of global pictorial affinities, which also reconciled high and low.
#Geneva #exhibition #darkness #light