Artists perambulate through a global art world full of worldwide transfer processes, finding their inspiration in the boundless opportunities to communicate. But stepping out into a foreign world, leaving behind familiar pastures or one’s own home, is not just a phenomenon of our modern age.
The works by previous generations of artists are also informed by movement patterns that induced a fruitful process of cultural and artistic cross-pollination. The early 19th century in particular – a period in which technical and social progress had made travel and therefore the passage across national borders a matter of some simplicity – features a consciously aesthetic appraisal of foreign cultures that extends beyond purely academic interest.
The exhibition investigates the artist’s movement into unknown regions using three exemplary topical focuses. First there is voluntary travel, undertaken as educative or study trips to discover foreign worlds, to recollect the primitive nature of life and above all to expand one’s own artistic horizon. Then there is exile or emigration, usually precipitated by outside forces for political, economic or ideological reasons, which in itself, in its involuntary experience of unknown regions, led to a certain cultural assimilation.
But moving into unfamiliar areas does not necessarily have to be physical in nature, involving departure from a certain location. Instead, in times of personal, social or political crises, the process is revealed in some artists as a withdrawal into personal solitude, as a kind of ‘internal emigration’, as it were. The exhibition features 19th and 20th century works from the Graphic Collection at the Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts.