The Industrial Age and The Dreamer

The French painter Gustave Courbet is one of the most fascinating artists of the 19th century. He is regarded both as a major pioneer of socially engaged painting and as a revolutionary of the Paris Commune (proposing to dismantle the Vendôme column). But Courbet also had an entirely other side: he was one of the greatest dreamers in history. In his portraits, landscapes, drawings and still lifes, he depicts a world of absorption, thoughtfulness and internalization – in stark contrast to the frenzied industrialization of his age. More than 80 works from all over the world will present this “other” Courbet, who from a starting point in German Romanticism realized the vision of a poetic art of the Modern, later to be further developed by Cézanne and Picasso, and in the schools of Symbolism, Surrealism and Magic Realism. Many of his works radiate a kind of somnambulistic sensualism, and are set in remote areas isolated from the outside world and where nothing is secure: one reason why so many contemporary artists continue to refer to Courbet.