What makes an image – especially a replicated image – unique? This is the question tackled by curator Hans Wolfgang Singer at the beginning of the 20th century in his book, Unika und Seltenheiten im Königlichen Kupferstich-Kabinett zu Dresden. Singer addressed the topic in a surprising way; without exception, he chose prints for his catalogue although the medium of mechanically replicated graphic reproduction seems to rule out originality.
Unique! asks anew how we today perceive the singularity of works on paper and how we can understand it not only in close observation – we will be expecting you during opening hours in our study room (please ring!) – but also with the distance that is created by the protective picture frames in the exhibition and with the aid of digital media.
The hand-drawn self-portrait, which embodies the artist as an individual creator, offers a departure point for the exhibition. Subsequently, we examine the collecting principle of organization; the special object can only appear in comparison with other works and therefore succumbs to temporal change. Paper is another theme of the exhibition – as the polymorphous support that exerts a singular effect on the art works collected in the Kupferstich-Kabinett.
Finally, we present the inexhaustible world of reproductive art for exploration, which extends from the woodcut of the 15th century to offset printing and photography. Whether through an accident of preservation, individual re-workings or innovative techniques, each work is unique. The final highpoint of the exhibition is provided by the space-defying cartoon for the Dresden Fürstenzug (the epitome of the rarest one-of-a-kind and the basis for the iconic Saxon porcelain painting).