Monday, March 20, 2023

Sisters & Brothers

Last Wednesday, Red Baron took part in an excursion of the Museumsgesellschaft to Tübingen to visit the exhibition Sisters & Brothers, 500 Jahre Geschwister in der Kunst (500 years of siblings in art).

Why is the title in English, although the wave of anglicism is ebbing away in Germany? Sisters & Brothers are possibly explained by a photo taken by Nicolas Nixon in 1980, The Brown Sisters, Greenwich, Rhode Island, that adorns flyers and posters for the exhibition.

The vice president of the Museumsgesellschaft, Professor Sabine Wienker-Piepow,  guided the tour. Already on our way to Tübingen on the coach, Sabine introduced us to the part of the exhibition she knows best: siblings in fairy tales.

The makers of Sisters & Brothers boldly claim: Surprisingly, the longest and not infrequently most intense relationship in a person's life - the sibling relationship - has hardly been studied scientifically and has never been the subject of an exhibition.

When we arrived at the art gallery, the Director and Curator, Dr. Nicole Fritz, guided us through the exhibition.

Jan Harmensz. Muller: Cain and Abel (1589)
The book Genesis of the Old Testament starts with the first and most dramatic fratricide. Rival and conflicting siblings are frequent protagonists in Bible stories, such as Jacob and Esau or Joseph and his brothers.

Johann Gottfried Schadow: Louise and Friederica of Prussia (1797)
In the transition to the 19th century, siblings in love imagined themselves as soul mates. A well-known example is Queen Louise and her sister Frederica of Prussia, whose political significance in the Napoleonic era is still exaggerated today.

David Sulzer: Drei Winterthurerinnen (1837)
The pictorial representation of three sisters from Winterthur also emphasizes their close bond, embodying their sisterly friendship.

In the Grimm fairy tales, the relationships between brothers and their usually youngest sister are particularly close.

Moritz von Schwind: The Seven Ravens (1857)
In the fairy tale of The Seven Ravens, the sister sets out to find her missing and enchanted seven brothers. To redeem them, the girl's willingness to make sacrifices goes so far that, in the end, she cuts off her little finger.

From my Fairy Tale Book, here is an illustration from 1937:

Hastily the girl ran away and, in search of her brothers, ran to the moon,
but he was too cold and also gruesome and evil, and when he noticed the child,
he said, "I smell, smell human flesh."

August Gaber: The Six Swans (1860)
In the fairy tale The Six Swans, the sister, out of love for her six brothers who have been transformed into swans, performs unheard-of acts to redeem them. The girl sits in a tree, is not allowed to speak or laugh for six years, and must sew six shirts made of starflowers during that time.

Eugène Carrière: The Kiss of Innocence (1882)
Child siblings as a symbol of innocence are the motif of the painting The Kiss of Innocence.

Wilhelm Balmer, The Three Brothers (1898)
The bourgeoisie of the 19th century wants to radiate affection and security. This is precisely how The Three Brothers are depicted without the usual sibling rivalry and bickering.

Erich Heckel, Siblings (1913)
On the eve of the First World War, Heckel shows an intimate love between siblings. Heckel's wife, Sidi Riha, comforts her younger brother as their mother is dying.

Julie Hayward: Let's Dance (2014)
These objects, seemingly standing wildly in the room, represent two pairs of siblings. They are each connected with a metal bracket, i.e., I cannot choose my sibling. At the same time, however, the bracket is a sign of bondage.

Gert and Uwe Tobias: 6 PM Cain and Abel (2022)
With much temperament, Dr. Fritz explains the work of art. 
The monumental woodcut of two rival brothers, Gert and Uwe Tobias depicts Cain's fratricide surrounded by motifs reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch.

Here is the fratricide in more detail.
Erwin Wurm: The North/South Question for Siblings (2007)
Here the artist invites the viewer to participate. Siblings should face each other and express their bond with the help of a board, which they clamp between them without using their hands.

Joseph Beuys: Cosmos and Damian 3-D (1974)
Twins are very special siblings. A postcard of the collapsed World Trade Center is emblematic of the mythical physician twins Cosmos and Damian, who converted many of their patients to Christianity through gratuitous treatment. Joseph Beuys superelevated the names of the towers to Cosmos and Damian: charity spans the globe.

After a snack in the museum cafeteria, there was still time until the coach's departure to deal more intensively with some art objects.

Long shot of the work of the Tobias brothers.

Thank you, Sabine, for the most memorable excursion.

No comments:

Post a Comment