Cheap Pictures in Art History

Art history exhibit in University Library at Freie Universität Berlin from April 25 to June 27 / Exhibit opening on April 25 at 5 p.m.

No 099/2019 from Apr 16, 2019

A new exhibit in the University Library of Freie Universität Berlin is devoted to print reproductions of works of art. It provides a historical overview of the impact of the reproduction of works of art in the book market while also exploring the issue of educational and ideological interests associated with reproduction. The exhibit entitled "Cheap Pictures. Popular Works of Art in Monographs and Portfolio Collections since 1900 based on the example of Albrecht Dürer" was curated by students at Universität Siegen under the direction of art historians Joseph Imorde and Dr. Andreas Zeising. The exhibition will run from April 25 through June 27. Admission is free.

From about 1890 on, the autotype, a new photomechanical reproduction process, has made it possible to reproduce photographic copies of works of art in large print runs. Since then, publishing houses such as E. A. Seemann in Leipzig have specialized in the production and distribution of inexpensive art monographs and picture books that convey famous works of art to a broad audience. According to curator Andreas Zeising, this development changed art history from a bourgeois elitist discipline to a popular science in which pictorial reproduction has gained its own significance. The aim of the exhibition is to illustrate this largely neglected field of popular art education since 1900 with the use of original documents.

The exhibit focuses on the work of the painter and graphic artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). According to Zeising, Dürer’s work became popular in Germany due to the relatively cheap monographs and portfolios, and the folksiness attributed to Dürer’s work stems from a very successful marketing strategy. Zeising says, "The alleged folksiness was also an expression of a general longing for a national identity beyond class contradictions and barriers to education, which found its material counterpart in the medium of the mass image. The items in the exhibit illustrate how the artistic image and its art-historical mediation were utilized in the Wilhelmine Empire, the Weimar Republic, and the National Socialist Third to unite the population."

Exhibition Opening

  • Foyer, University Library, Freie Universität Berlin, Garystraße 39, 14195 Berlin (subway station: Freie Universität/Thielplatz, U3)

Time and Location of the Exhibit

  • April 25 to June 27
  • Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • University Library, Freie Universität Berlin, Garystraße 39, 14195 Berlin (subway station: Freie Universität/Thielplatz, U3)
  • Dr. Susanne Rothe, University Library, Freie Universität Berlin, Email: rothe [at] ub.fu-berlin (p) de
  • PD Dr. Andreas Zeising, Art History Department, Universität Siegen, Email: zeising [at] kunstgeschichte.uni-siegen (p) de

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