This large-scale temporary exhibition to be installed at the Lower Belvedere, the Orangery, and the Palace Stables is devoted to gold as a precious metal and its use in contemporary art. Numerous international loans, most of which date from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, will be presented together with examples from the museum’s holdings.
The historical use of the gold ground will be addressed through a small number of exemplary exhibits, with a mummy portrait from the second century marking the beginning of this section. In the Palace Stables, the focus will be on the employment of gold in medieval art. From the Renaissance on, the painterly depiction of materials was preferred to their use as such, and the application of gold was mostly limited to the decorative and interior arts. Paintings by Giandomenico Tiepolo and William Blake document the earliest incorporation of gold in painting during the modern era.
In the nineteenth century, the employment of gold was considered as “barbaric”, and such surrogate materials as gold paint and composition gold were still predominant during the Gründerzeit and the fin de siècle. It was only from the mid-twentieth century on that the material properties of gold were increasingly taken advantage of in artistic production.
This exhibition highlights developments up to the present day, displaying masterpieces by Willi Baumeister, James Lee Byars, Sylvie Fleury, Richard Hamilton, Yves Klein, Imi Knoebel, Emil Orlik, Victor Vasarely, Franz West, and others; it impressively illustrates that in contemporary art the use of gold as no limits whatsoever in terms of theme, form, and style.
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