This section contains an overview of the most relevant exhibitions. Each item is connected to the organizing museum.

Optical Illusions and Fake News Forever

Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761-1845), Trompe l’œil with cat, 18th century. © Sammlung Henri und Farida Seydoux, Photo: Kunsthalle München.

Optical illusions, trompe-l’oeil, visual trickery and deceptions have always been around, particularly in art. Since antiquity, artists have been playing with our senses, reminding us time and time again how easily we are deceived. With examples from painting, sculpture, video, architecture, design, fashion and interactive virtual-reality works, the exhibition weaves a highly entertaining path through the (art) history of appearance and illusion. The exhibition transforms over four millennia of optical illusions into an exciting art experience, with every room holding new surprises in store. Since time immemorial, artists have been searching for new ways of duping the beholder, confounding him with their craftsmanship. Even the frescoes of antiquity impressively simulate three-dimensional images. Baroque church ceilings refine these illusion techniques, seeming to draw the gaze of the congregation up into heavenly spheres. Moreover, during the 17th century, the golden age of illusory painting, audiences were captivated by the trompe-l’œil (fooling the eye). These works are so perfectly executed that the depicted objects seem to emerge from the frames. Today’s digital virtual reality technology offers almost unlimited possibilities of extending the longstanding tradition of optical illusions in ways hitherto undreamed of.

The Sea and the Development of Europe

Danish fishing cutter Rexona (Frederikshavn 1899) at sea, summer 2010. Foto: TES.

Europe is a maritime continent in geographical terms. Taking the length of the coastline relative to the total land area, Europe has more contact with the sea than any of the other continents. Nevertheless, the sea can seem very remote to people living in central and eastern Europe. In many countries, the sea is part of people’s daily reality only when they go there on holiday, or if they live on the coast.

The exhibition reveals just how fundamentally the sea has shaped the development of Europe, exploring the roles it has played and continues to play. The exhibition covers the centuries from the Age of Antiquity to the present. It examines the sea’s significance as a facilitator of European wars, expansionism, and trade, as a bridge and barrier, as a resource, and as a focus of yearning and imagination. In addition to the historical dimension, it casts a spotlight on many aspects that are of great importance today: the role of the sea as a bridge and barrier to the continent has acquired new relevance, environmental concerns, climate-related issues, and the use or overuse of marine resources are also subjects of growing public debate.

A Golden Treasure in a Stone Age Village

The small town of Kirchheim unter Teck in Baden-Württemberg presents an overview of recent archaeological finds from the Stone Age. The village probably counted around 100 people and around 20 huts of clay. The most remarkable find is the golden hoard in a grave of a woman, showing the (economic) relevance of the region.

Parisian prints from the 1920s

Roger Pérot (1908–1976), Delahaye, 1932, Plakat, Lithografie, 160 x 120 cm, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) has acquired a collection of Parisian prints mainly from the 1920s that is unparalleled anywhere in Germany. From a total of over 700 sheets, some 150 will be on view at the show, representing in equal measure posters, graphics (pochoir prints and lithographs), and advertisements printed chiefly in the magazines Vogue and L’Illustration. It may be surprising to see advertising placed on equal footing here with other graphic artworks, but these ads were often designed by leading artists and reflect the major themes of the times: the automobile, which reached an aesthetic culmination circa 1930; the French chanson, which rose to prominence in the 1920s; the Parisian Haute Couture created during this era; and, last but not least, dance and cabaret, which played an important role especially in Paris. The Paris Art Deco posters are regarded internationally as a high point in the history of the poster.