Take‘artful’ journey through time at State Gallery

Stuttgart’s State Gallery downtown gives puts on a new spin on a traditional art viewing experience. The gallery showcases an art collection that spans 700 years. However, viewers may be surprised to find a modern sculpture next to a masterpiece from the 14th century.

 “It’s the idea of merging old art with contemporary art in order to create a new visual angle,” said Anette Frankenberger, a spokesperson for the State Gallery Stuttgart. “This concept provides visitors with a new experience and perception of art.”

The State Gallery Stuttgart’s collection features paintings, sculptures and art installations ranging from 14th century German, Dutch and Italian art to 21st century contemporary art.

The Old State Gallery was built between 1838 and 1843 under the reign of King Wilhelm I of Württemberg and is one of the oldest museums in Germany.
The New State Gallery is located next to the old gallery and was designed in 1984 by the British architect James Stirling. Stirling’s complex is considered one of the most popular landmarks of postmodern architecture.

When visitors cross from one gallery to the other, they will see the architecture change between classical arches and monumental halls to modern, light-flooded rooms with glass roofs. This is because “Stirling designed the crossover from the New to the Old Gallery as a Neoclassical gateway,” according to Frankenberger.
In 2002, the newest gallery building opened its doors to the public with the “Graphic Collection,” including more than 400,000 drawings, watercolors, collages, posters and photo art.

With pieces from Picasso’s “Blue Period,” Wassily Kandinsky’s “Improvisation” and paintings by French artists Monet, Manet, Pissaro, Renoir, Cezanne and Gauguin, the State Gallery attracts visitors from all over the world.

A highlight of the German collection from the 14th to 17th century is the “Herrenberger Altar” (Herrenberg Altar) from 1519. The wooden panels, designed by the Swabian artist Jerg Ratgeb, illustrate the passion of Christ in symbolic and lively pictures typical of the late Gothic style.

Visitors can dive into Monet’s harmonious impressionist masterpiece “Fields in Spring” at the Old State Gallery or take a passageway to the New State Gallery to see an art installation by German action artist and sculptor Joseph Beuys called “Last Room with Introspection.” Beuys’ piece, made from pipes covered in felt, rocks, a chair, concrete, and other items, takes up an entire room.

The main contemporary art collection is located in the Old State Gallery and focuses on the European and American forms of abstract expressionism and pop art, displaying artwork by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Richard Hamilton and Andy Warhol.

Similarly, many old masterpieces are located in the New Gallery.
“With displaying old art in a modern environment or vice versa, the artwork simply has a different appearance and touches visitors in a special way,” Frankenberger added.

Sometimes a older piece and a modern piece will be placed side by side. This set-up is designed to enable visitors to see how modern artists use some of the same techniques that master artists used centuries before.
Oftentimes, transitions between different art periods are fluid and visitors to the State Gallery are encouraged to experience them together throughout the collection, Frankenberger said.

Instead of displaying art on a timeline, the State Gallery in Stuttgart juxtaposes a mixture of art through the centuries, giving viewers a new perspective on the evolution of art.

The State Gallery offers workshops for children and guided family tours on the first Sunday of the month at 3 p.m. Tours for children are also available every Friday at 3 p.m.

For more information in English, visit www.staatsgalerie.de/index_e.php. For English guided tours, call civ. 0711-470-40-451 or e-mail kunstvermittlung@staatsgalerie.de.