For the first time, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart’s Large State Exhibition is paying tribute to the importance of the artist’s studio and its depiction in modern art in a comprehensive survey. The show will feature altogether some two hundred works. Superb pieces from our own holdings will be presented side by side with outstanding loans from such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, the Museu Picasso, Barcelona and the Tate, London.
The show is designed to transcend the boundaries between artistic media. At the same time, it will focus primarily on painting and photography and – with its numerous juxtapositions of studio views and a wealth of other highlights – take visitors on an expedition through two centuries of art.
“The Studio: Workshop and Myth” will offer informative and diversified insights into the changing nature of artists’ self-perception in modern times.
Artists were already critically examining their working environment – the studio – as long ago as the Renaissance. Since the early nineteenth century, the depiction of the studio as a place of artistic creativity has become a central pictorial theme in art. As a sacralized retreat during the Romantic era of Caspar David Friedrich and Carl Gustav Carus, as a place of refuge for artists ostracized from society, for example the studio of Frédéric Bazille, or as a sumptuous setting for self-staging by “painter princes” like Hans Makart or Franz von Lenbach: over the course of the nineteenth century, the artist’s studio underwent a virtually cultic process of gentrification closely intertwined with artists’ new sense of themselves and their autonomy. The studio now served as a point of departure for self-reflection as well as self-presentation.
The exhibition spans the epochs from Romanticism to the present, with early modern art forming the core focus. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Georges Braque or Max Beckmann executed studio scenes which not only shed light on their aesthetic production but literally merge with it. Others, including Constantin Brancusi, Kurt Schwitters and Alberto Giacometti, turned their studios themselves into works of art. In the show, Mondrian’s workroom will be faithfully reconstructed down to the smallest detail, allowing the visitor to enter and experience Mondrian’s conception of art three-dimensionally.
In the late 1950s, the myth revolving around the studio – the site celebrated as the nucleus of creative inspiration since Romanticism – once again became the subject of intense artistic preoccupation. Now artists such as Bruce Nauman, Joseph Beuys, Dieter Roth, Paul McCarthy or Lois Renner broadened the spectrum of the studio depiction with regard to media, by introducing video, computer technology and installation art – but also with regard to content, by configuring the studio as a combination living space, laboratory and stage.
To this day, artists have continued to explore the meaning of the studio as the springboard for the critical examination of their own work in ways that are as diverse as they are surprising.