Seeing, Reading, and Hearing the Portrait

13 July to 03 November 2013


What do portraits tell us? What are the appropriate ways for us to discuss what we see in them? These kinds of questions underpin the current exhibition and book project ‘Tête à Tête – Seeing, Hearing, and Reading the Portrait’ For the purposes of the project, from 13.7 to 03.11.2013 the Kunsthalle has been transformed into a space where picture and language, the visual and the spoken, stand on a par with each other.


Containing some 50 masterpieces from the Karlsruhe collection and spanning 500 years in the history of art, the exhibition demonstrates that each work has a voice to be heard. Renowned German writers, intellectuals, and art and cultural theorists have been inspired by the portraits to compose written works in response.


Their methods of approach were varied and have resulted in essays, stories, and poems. Featured authors include: Hans Belting, Gottfried Boehm, Wilhelm Genazino, Brigitte Kronauer, Michael Kumpfmüller, Friederike Mayröcker, Eva Menasse, Herta Müller, Silke Scheuermann, Lutz Seiler, Peter Sloterdijk, Martin Walser, July Zeh, to name but a few.


The texts open up the viewer’s eyes to forms of beauty and peculiarities captured in the pictures and the sitters. Along the way, the exhibition also represents a survey of the development of Netherlandish, German, and French portraiture from around 1480 to 1980.


The exhibition brings together paintings by such artists as Lucas Cranach the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Eugène Delacroix, Friedrich Overbeck, Adolph von Menzel, Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, Otto Dix, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and many others.


What makes this exhibition so different is that each visitor is handed an audio guide, free of charge, which contains a spoken version of all texts. There is also an attractive book accompanying the exhibition. For book purchasers, admission to the exhibition is included in the book price. A selection of special audio commentaries is also available as an app, which can be downloaded from 13 July from both Apple and Android app stores.


€8/concessions €6/pupils €2/families €16

Admission free for museum-pass holders.


German-language reading and talk with author featured in the exhibition:


Tuesday, 15 October 2013, 8 p.m.,

Konzerthaus Karlsruhe

Herta Müller reads from her works

Reading and discussion, hosted by: Ernest Wichner


The reading has been organized in collaboration with the Karlsruhe Literary Society and Stephanus bookshop.


Each Sunday, 3 p.m., in addition to further tours (see calendar or check details in programme flyer)