FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 27, 2011

Getty Research Institute Presents Display and Art History: The Düsseldorf Gallery and Its Catalogue

At the Getty Research Institute, Getty Center
May 31—August 21, 2011

 

 

LOS ANGELES—Display and Art History: The Düsseldorf Gallery and Its Catalogue illustrates the making of one of the earliest modern catalogues, La galerie électorale de Dusseldorff (1778), a revolutionary two-volume publication that played a significant role in the history of museums and helped mark the transition from the Baroque to the Enlightenment.

Constructed by Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm II von der Pfalz between 1709 and 1714, the Düsseldorf gallery is an early example of exhibiting an art collection in a nonresidential structure. It charted the course toward what would eventually become the institution of the public museum. The Düsseldorf gallery featured a new system of display in which the arrangement of objects was determined by art historical principles such as style and school, rather than subject. Published in the second half of the eighteenth century, the Düsseldorf catalogue represented this new display in numerous etchings; the accompanying text sought to educate a broader circle of readers.

Display and Art History: The Düsseldorf Gallery and Its Catalogue, on view at the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center from May 31 through August 21, 2011, showcases the exquisite watercolors, red chalk drawings, and architectural elevations that were used to produce this revolutionary catalogue. The exhibition explores their role in the printmaking process and underscores their value as precious works of art created by accomplished draftsmen.

"We are most fortunate to have an almost complete set of preparatory drawings in our archives, which allows for the reconstruction of this ambitious enterprise and reflects a pivotal moment in the history of art as well as the history of the art museum," says Thomas Gaehtgens, Director of the Getty Research Institute.

Prince-elector Johann Wilhelm II assembled one of the most important European art collections of the eighteenth century. He constructed a gallery to exhibit his nearly 400 paintings, 46 of which were by Peter Paul Rubens. At the time, many princes were reorganizing their substantial collections in order to convey the message that they not only possessed a wide variety of artistic treasures but were also able to care for them properly and make them available for study.

A generation later, Prince-elector Carl Theodor von der Pfalz, Johann Wilhelm’s nephew and successor, commissioned Lambert Krahe, director of the Düsseldorf Academy and gallery, to rehang the paintings collection following its storage during the Seven Years’ War (1756-63). Krahe broke with the Baroque tradition of decoratively covering entire walls with paintings. Instead, he displayed the paintings in a didactic, symmetrical arrangement ordered by schools, thus introducing a completely new and modern system of organizing art. Rather than hanging paintings frame-to-frame, Krahe integrated space between them, preserving their identity as separate works of art. This new display encouraged viewers to draw comparisons.

The Düsseldorf catalogue similarly fostered learning and education, in addition to celebrating the prestige of the collector. Produced by court architect Nicolas de Pigage, printmaker Christian von Mechel, and linguist Jean-Charles Laveaux, the catalogue illustrates Krahe’s display of paintings on the gallery walls. Unlike earlier catalogues that only provided brief inventories, Pigage’s publication offers an analysis of each painting that was aimed at an educated public.

"In this sense, the catalog was very much a work of the Enlightenment, and the princely gallery, accessible to interested visitors, became more like a museum as we understand it today," says Gaehtgens.

Louis Marchesano, the GRI’s Curator of Prints and Drawings, adds, "The catalogue no longer simply represented princely magnificence; it now also fostered aesthetic reflection and art historical education."

Display and Art History is co-curated by Thomas Gaehtgens, Director of the Getty Research Institute, and Louis Marchesano, the GRI’s Curator of Prints and Drawings. They also co-authored an accompanying book, Display and Art History: The Düsseldorf Gallery and Its Catalogue.

 

 

# # #

MEDIA CONTACT:

Julie Jaskol
Getty Communications
(310) 440-7607
jjaskol@getty.edu
 

 About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Sign up for e-Getty at www.getty.edu/subscribe/ to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.

The Getty Research Institute is an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust. It serves education in the broadest sense by increasing knowledge and understanding about art and its history through advanced research. The Research Institute provides intellectual leadership through its research, exhibition, and publication programs and provides service to a wide range of scholars worldwide through residencies, fellowships, online resources, and a Research Library. The Research Library - housed in the 201,000-square-foot Research Institute building designed by Richard Meier - is one of the largest art and architecture libraries in the world. The general library collections (secondary sources) include almost 900,000 volumes of books, periodicals, and auction catalogues encompassing the history of Western art and related fields in the humanities. The Research Library’s special collections include rare books, artists’ journals, sketchbooks, architectural drawings and models, photographs, and archival materials.

Visiting the Getty Center
The Getty Center is open Tuesday through Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed Monday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Center is always free. Parking is $15 per car, but $10 after 5 p.m. on Saturdays and for evening events. No reservations are required for parking or general admission. Reservations are required for event seating and groups of 15 or more. Please call (310) 440-7300 (English or Spanish) for reservations and information. The TTY line for callers who are deaf or hearing impaired is (310) 440-7305.The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, California..

You must be logged in to view this item.

This area is reserved for members of the news media. If you qualify, please update your user profile and check the box marked "Check here to register as an accredited member of the news media". Please include any notes in the "Supporting information for media credentials" box. We will notify you of your status via e-mail in one business day.