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From Dürer to Rauschenberg: A Quintessence of Drawing. Masterworks from the Albertina and the Guggenheim

March 9, 1999 – May 16, 1999

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents From Dürer to Rauschenberg: A Quintessence of Drawing. Masterworks from the Albertina and the Guggenheim. The exhibition represents a unique partnership between the Graphische Sammlung Albertina in Vienna, one of the world's most significant and extensive repositories of works on paper, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, to unite the oeuvres of 22 world-renowned artists whose drawings span the course of five centuries. Cocurated by Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and Dr. Konrad Oberhuber, Director of the Graphische Sammlung Albertina, the exhibition highlights extraordinary, in-depth holdings of a select group of artists, many whose names have become synonymous with their respective institutions.

The result is an inspiring concentration of some of the finest works ever assembled by the Albertina's legendary masters Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Federico Barocci, Peter Paul Rubens, Claude Lorrain, Rembrandt, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Rudolf von Alt, Adolph Menzel, Hans von Marées, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka and the Guggenheim's exemplary holdings of works on paper by Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Arshile Gorky, Joseph Beuys, Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, and Francesco Clemente.

Featuring five works by each artist, A Quintessence of Drawing offers both a comprehensive study of their individual oeuvres as well as a historical survey of drawing and its development since the Renaissance as a specialized medium and a formidable conceptual tool. Artists in the exhibition will be represented by drawings from various phases of their careers, and works will include portraits, landscapes, working studies, and pages from their personal sketchbooks. When seen together, these works from the collections of the Albertina and the Guggenheim provide audiences with a rare opportunity to experience the unfolding of classical figuration through Modernism and its unbounded experimentation with the symbolic and the quotidian world.

Named after its founder, Duke Albert of Saxony-Teschen (1732-1822), the Albertina began by collecting engravings beginning in the early 1770s, amassing an extensive archive of European graphic work from the 15th century to the 20th century. It now boasts over 60,000 drawings by masters of the Italian, German, Flemish, and French schools. Austrian art is a major focus of the collection. Figure drawings by esteemed 20th-century Austrian artists Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka are a highlight of the exhibition. Three of the most highly acclaimed artists of the early 20th century, their powerful works provide a critical bridge between the artists represented by the Albertina and the abstract works exemplified by those of Kandinsky and others from the Guggenheim's collection.

The Guggenheim Museum, which bears the name of its founder Solomon R. Guggenheim (1861-1949), began to collect European Modernist painting in earnest beginning in 1927, most notably through its acquisitions of the non-objective works by Russian-born Kandinsky. Non-objective painting, initially the sole focus of Guggenheim's collection, was later augmented by sculpture and other media. Its strict stance on nonmimetic painting receded, and figurative work—for instance that of Paul Klee—began to enter the collection in 1948. Like the Albertina, the Guggenheim's renowned 19th- and 20th-century collection owes its genesis to the foundations of European art. Its collection features generations of artists from both Europe and America who have built on, reshaped, and challenged the visual language of aesthetics first established by the early masters.

Combined, these two great treasuries provide a singular opportunity to witness the unfolding of five centuries of artistic ingenuity by featuring artists whose work is ultimately engaged with the nature of form.

Alberto Durero

Study with Three Hands, 1494–5

Pen and brown and brown-black ink over thin pen tracing in a slightly paler ink on white paper

27 x 18 cm

Graphische Sammlung Albertina

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