Residenzschloss (Royal Castle) Dresden | Change of perspective

Hermann Nitsch and the open-air circles of Elector Augustus of Saxony

The Hoffmann Collection donation allows contemporary works to enter into a dialog with objects from the various museums of the Dresden State Art Collections in order to open up new perspectives and levels of meaning for both the contemporary and historical exhibits.

As in anatomical studies, muscle parts and internal organs are partially exposed in the work of the artist Hermann Nitsch and bear witness to his silent fascination with the human body. For the performance artist, human anatomy was a model for his “architectural fantasies”. As early as 1965, he began drawing up plans for an underground ideal architecture for his Orgies Mysteries Theatre.

In the exhibited work, Nitsch’s grouping of twelve bodies around a central figure refers to Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, but also to his schematized depictions of the structure of the human body. For his drawing of the “homo ad circulum”, the Renaissance artist da Vinci placed the compass exactly at the navel and thus drew the idealized proportions of his Vitruvian Man, who became the anthropometric measure of the built world.

Elector Augustus of Saxony (1526-1586), the founder of the Dresden Kunstkammer, was also a Renaissance man with a wide range of interests. He was particularly enthusiastic about high-quality hand tools and implements as well as scientific instruments. He had around 300 garden tools commonly used in his time brought together for his collection, including two large wooden drawing circles, which are among the most unusual pieces. However, the Elector was not only a collector, but also a craftsman and creator himself, as the title of the room “The Elector as artifex” in the exhibition Concept and Encounter: The World around 1600 in the Royal Castle indicates.

March 29, 2023 — July 1, 2024

Wednesday to Monday 10am — 6pm
regular 14 €, discounted 10,50 €, under 17 free