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Cover for  König der Tiere
King of the Animals
Wilhelm Kuhnert and the Image of Africa
More than any other painter of his time, Wilhelm Kuhnert shaped the notion of Africa. Between 1891 and 1912 he was one of the first Euro­pean artists to travel through the German colonies of North and East Africa, which were still largely unex­plored at the time. During these jour­neys, his sketches of the animal and plant world were often created under diffi­cult condi­tions. These served as the basis for his monu­mental paint­ings, which he later created in his Berlin studio and exhib­ited inter­na­tion­ally with great success. Kuhnert stood out for his almost scien­tific approach: He captured the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the animals and the land­scape in which they lived with great preci­sion. It is not surprising that his animal pictures were published in zoolog­ical books like Brehms Tier­leben (Brehm’s Life of Animals), as wall charts for school class­rooms and on the wrap­pers of Stoll­w­erck choco­late. Although Wilhelm Kuhnert remains one of the most frequently collected acad­emic painters to this day, his work is largely unknown by the broader public. Now, for the first time, the SCHIRN is presenting a compre­hen­sive retro­spec­tive of his life and work. The exhi­bi­tion combines studies and paint­ings from Euro­pean and Amer­ican museums, private collec­tions, and Kuhnert’s estate with numerous prints and commer­cial graphics and publi­ca­tions by the artist. Here, Kuhnert’s work is seen not only as a mirror of the history of art and natural science, but also against the back­ground of the history of colo­nialism. As such it also makes a contri­bu­tion to the current debate on the handling of Germany’s colo­nial past.
Event information:
Frankfurt am Main | Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
10-25-2018 - 01-27-2019
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