Exhibition hits the nerve of the times

The Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg presents the exhibition “The Art of Deceleration. Motion and Rest in Art from Caspar David Friedrich to Ai Weiwei”.
Exhibition hits the nerve of the times

» I may not have a clue where I am going, but at least I will get there quicker!«
Helmut Qualtinger

NASA scientists have discovered that the Earth now spins 1.6 microseconds a day faster as a result of the most recent earthquake in Japan and changes to the axis of rotation. Don”t we have the feeling that the Earth is turning ever faster, that everything is happening at once, that the cycle of crises is becoming ever shorter, that time has been becoming ever scarcer? The exhibition The Art of Deceleration distills a theme that touches a nerve with society. Since the 19th century, the tempo of life has continuously increased up to “rushing stand still” (Paul Virilio). Modernity has frequently been equated with acceleration. But a longing for contemplation in addition to the insight that progress must be detached from its one-sided link to acceleration is likewise growing today: In order to move forward we must decelerate!

The exhibition project at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg focuses on the contrapuntal phenomenon of motion and rest in art from Romanticism to Classic Modernism and the present day. Modern art has likewise regularly been equated with acceleration: since the 19th century, the so-called avant-garde was seen as the spearhead of an expansive dynamism extending from William Turner, Impressionism, Futurism and Abstraction to the Kinetic Art of the 1950s and Media Art. It has been little noticed, however, that the fascination for unbound movement has from the beginning gone hand in hand with the search for an aesthetic of slowness. Alongside the avant-garde of mechanical acceleration there has always been an avant-garde of deceleration that wanted to examine the dynamics of stillness and the profundity of being, as can be seen in the images of longing by Romantic artists and the metaphysical immersing of the Symbolists and Surrealists to the profound color field paintings of a Mark Rothko.

We can particularly learn from art that slowness cannot be played off against speed and that the history of modernism was always also a history of complementary tendencies of acceleration and deceleration. At the same time that the Futurists were glorifying velocity in glowing manifestos and blazing paintings around 1909, Giorgio de Chirico invented the tranquil world of Pittura metafisica with its magical views of often uninhabited public squares.

The Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg is examining this dialectic of acceleration and deceleration for the first time in a comprehensive historical exhibition featuring circa 160 works by 85 artists. It concerns a kind of “rereading” of the history of modern art from Romanticism to the present. Employing an accentuated selection of works, the two areas are contrapuntally juxtaposed to each other, making tangible the tension arc between High Speed and Slow Down.

The viewer sets off on an exciting parcours on which he encounters major paintings from Romantic and Classic Modern art as well as spectacular mobile installations by contemporary artists, for example Jonathan Schipper”s realistically staged car crash or Julius Popp”s two-stories high bit.fall waterfall.

The exhibition will run from November 12, 2011 through April 9, 2012.

Hussein Chalayan, Place to Passage, 2003, 5-screen film installation, 12 minute loop, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Copyright: Hussein Chalayan 2003, music: Jean Paul Dessy, still images: Hussein Chalayan / neutral 2003. Aristide Maillol, La Méditerranée, 1905-1907, bronze, 110 x 77,5 x 113 cm, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; on loan from Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Copyright: VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011

The Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg was opened in 1994 and can already look back at a unique history with numerous authoritative exhibitions and events. Within a brief period of time, it has been possible for the museum to position itself locally and find international recognition at the same time. The museum is dedicated to modern and contemporary art, combining diverse media ranging from painting, photography and sculpture and the new media to fashion and design. The striking modernist building located in the heart of the city presents temporary exhibitions as well as works from its own collection on 3,500 square meters.

Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Rita Werneyer
Hollerplatz 1
38440 Wolfsburg