Walking through the Albertinum islike opening a museum-sized art history reference work and leafing through its pages. With a range extending from Romanticism to the present, the Albertinum is a place where painting meets sculpture, East meets West and today meets tomorrow. The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, the trailblazer for numerous artistic styles that crystallized in the twentieth century, is the first work visitors see when entering the ground-level sculpture hall. Presented on simple black plinths and largely freestanding, the exhibited works show us the most diverse conceptions of three-dimensional art in their time.

There is Wilhelm Lehmbruck’s 1911 Kneeling Woman, a figure with overly-long limbs and a stretched torso who conveys in her stance a certain sense of life. In 1937, the work was confiscated in the Nazis’ “degenerate art” campaign, but was then presented again at the first Documenta exhibition after the Second World War as a possible connecting point for new figurative sculpture. At the Albertinum today stands the only surviving stone cast of the work in Europe. It is only steps away from Tony Cragg’s mathematically stacked cube made of wood, fabric scraps and loose-leaf binders from 1980 and from Birgit Diecker’s Seelenfänger from 2005: lifebuoys, some new, some worn and unsound, are entangled in rope and call to mind questions about the people who once used them.

In the remaining presentation at the Albertinum, painting and sculpture enter a dialogue again and again. This holds for the special exhibitions as well, which focus predominantly on contemporary art, for example the recent showcasing of performance artist Tino Sehgal, films by Rosa Barba and new work by Gerhard Richter. This Dresden-born painter has been given two permanent spaces here. At the other end of the presentation, world-famous masterworks by Caspar David Friedrich, the most significant German Romantic artist, are on show.