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City Life Org – The Met announces the first major retrospective in the United States dedicated to Caspar David Friedrich

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Exhibition dates: February 8 – May 11, 2025
Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 199

Inspired by the 250th anniversary of Friedrich’s birth, this major international loan exhibition will feature more than 75 works highlighting the German Romantic artist’s exploration of the natural world

From February 8 to May 11, 2025, the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents Caspar David Friedrich: The Soul of Nature, the first major exhibition in the United States devoted to the leading exponent of German Romantic art. Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) reshaped European landscape painting by depicting nature as a backdrop for profound spiritual and emotional encounters. Friedrich worked at the forefront of the German Romantic movement, which advocated a radically new understanding of the bond between nature and the inner self, developing pictorial subjects and strategies that express the individuality, intimacy, openness and complexity of our responses to the world to emphasize. natural world. The vision of landscape that unfolds in his art – meditative, mysterious and full of wonder – is still vitally important today.

The exhibition is made possible in part by Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, Barbara A. Wolfe, and Trevor and Alexis Traina.

“German Romanticism’s foremost painter, Caspar David Friedrich, brilliantly illuminates our understanding of the natural world as a spiritual and emotional landscape,” said Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Met. “This first-ever major retrospective of Germany’s most beloved painter in the United States follows this year’s celebration of his work on the artist’s 250th birthday. We are pleased to collaborate with our German museum colleagues and many other generous lenders on this rare opportunity to reflect on Friedrich’s representations of nature and the human condition.

Inspired by the 250th anniversary of Friedrich’s birth, the exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Alte Nationalgalerie of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and the Hamburger Kunsthalle, which will present independent exhibitions of Friedrich’s work in 2023-2024 as part of the anniversary celebrations of the artist in Germany. Following these shows, The Met’s exhibition will feature unprecedented loans from all three institutions – the most substantial collections of Friedrich’s work in the world – and from more than 30 other public and private lenders in Europe and North America. Despite Friedrich’s celebrated reputation, only two exhibitions have been devoted to his work in the United States: The Romantic Vision of Caspar David Friedrich: Paintings and Drawings from the USSR., held at The Met and the Art Institute of Chicago in 1990-91 and featuring 9 paintings and 11 drawings by Friedrich; And Caspar David Friedrich: Moongazers at The Met in 2001, including 7 paintings and 2 drawings by the artist.

Caspar David Friedrich: The Soul of Nature presents approximately 75 oil paintings, completed drawings, and working sketches from every phase of the artist’s career, along with selected examples by his contemporaries, which highlight Friedrich’s development of a symbolic vocabulary of landscape motifs to convey the personal and existential meanings he discovered in nature. Among the loans that will be exhibited for the first time in the United States are Wanderer above the Sea of ​​Mist (Hamburger Kunsthalle) and Monk by the sea (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie), two of the most iconic paintings in Friedrich’s oeuvre and in all Romantic art. Many other signature works, such as Dolmen in autumn (Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden), have not been seen in the United States for decades. The exhibition will also bring together for the first time all five Friedrich paintings owned by museums in the United States (The Met, the Kimbell Art Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the National Gallery of Art and the Saint Louis Art Museum) , placing these rare American possessions in the broader context of Friedrich’s art. A rich selection of works on paper from both domestic and international collections will demonstrate Friedrich’s talents as a draftsman and the central role of drawing in his creative practice, an aspect of his production unknown to most museum audiences in the United States. A partnership between specialists in paintings and drawings, the exhibition will also explore the ways in which the artist’s pictorial interests persisted and shifted through the media, and how different materials and techniques gave rise to his formal and thematic innovations .

The exhibition will unfold chronologically and thematically, tracing the evolution of Friedrich’s visual language over the course of his forty-year career. Each section highlights aspects of his engagement with the landscape of northeastern Europe and explores the unconventional pictorial tactics that give Friedrich’s subjects their visual drama and depth of meaning. Groupings of works will invite viewers to reflect on the range of themes Friedrich explored: religious faith; loneliness and companionship; the passage of time and human mortality; the perception of the ineffable and transcendent; concepts of nationhood rooted in the land; the safety of the known versus the appeal of the unknown; and, in the broadest sense, ways of viewing and interacting with nature. As a whole, the exhibition will distill Friedrich’s unique vision of nature and situate his art within the tumultuous politics and vibrant culture of 19th-century German society, exploring the role of German Romanticism in shaping modern perceptions of the natural world illuminated.

Credits and related content

Caspar David Friedrich: The Soul of Nature is co-curated by Alison Hokanson (Associate Curator, Department of European Paintings, The Met) and Joanna Sheers Seidenstein (Assistant Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Met).

The Met will host a variety of exhibition-related educational and public programs, which will be announced at a later date.

A fully illustrated catalog will accompany the exhibition. It will include essays by Dr. Hokanson and Dr. Seidenstein; Professor Joseph Leo Koerner, Harvard University; and Professor Cordula Grewe, Indiana University; in addition to contributions from other international scientists. It is published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press and will be available for purchase at The Met Store.

The catalog is made possible by Elizabeth Marsteller Gordon.

The exhibition can be viewed on The Met’s website and on social media.