The wilderness returns to art! And it does so at a time when the blank spaces on the world map have largely disappeared and an “untouched natural state” virtually only exists in the form of areas designated as nature reserves. The search for the last open spaces, the expedition as an artistic medium, and post-human visions of a world devoid of people characterize the works of many contemporary artists alongside the renegotiation of the relationship between individual and beast.
The SCHIRN is dedicating an extensive thematic exhibition to this recurring fascination and presents works of art from 1900 to the present. With important pieces by some 30 artists – inlcuding Tacita Dean, Mark Dion, Jean Dubuffet, Max Ernst, Asger Jorn, Georgia O’Keeffe, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella, Thomas Struth, Henri Rousseau und Carleton E. Watkins – it not only sheds light on the phenomenon of the wilderness in terms of iconography, but also shows it as a principle and motor of artistic creative work.
Artists have repeatedly been drawn to that which is wild, untamed, uncultivated since the beginning of the aesthetic modern age. The “wilderness” has always also served as a projection surface for anything that was different and foreign, for the longing for a primordial life beyond the boundaries of civilization. In today’s “Anthropocene,” the utopia of a natural state remote from culture and human influence seems anachronistic. And yet the examination of traditional images and fictions of wilderness seems more alive than ever before.