seeing thinking dreaming

French drawings from the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe
September 29, 2018 through January 13, 2019


Drawings rank among the most fascinating works in the history of art. They are created using light and delicate materials, while the various drawing techniques offer a wealth of expression possibilities. As the most direct form of image production, they convey an artist’s style and imagination perfectly.


In France, drawing has been an academic discipline for mastering every art form since the 17th century. Alongside painting, it has blossomed into a genre in its own right, and its free forms of expression have been cherished by collectors and discussed in art theory. The 120 drawings presented together for the first time at the exhibition were selected from the rich collection of works by French artists from the 16th to the 20th century that belongs to the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. This ensemble includes extraordinary pieces by the great landscape painter Claude Lorrain (c. 1600–1682), exquisite illustrations brimming with dramatic vitality by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), and subtle depictions of Parisian life by Edgar Degas (1834–1917).


The works exhibited not only illustrate the various drawing techniques and materials, but also give pieces of information that serve as clues to various questions: How did the artist work? Why did he create the drawing? To whom did it belong? Moreover, a workshop called the “Laboratory” offers visitors an opportunity to try their hand at various drawing techniques for themselves and thus contemplate the originals on display from a totally new perspective. And a rich fringe programme affords deeper insights into French drawings – works with a suggestive power that prompts us to “see, think and dream”.