On the occasion of Robert Schumann’s 200th birthday in 2010, the Kunstsammlungen Zwickau invited me to create an exhibition dealing with the reception of Robert Schumann and his music in the visual arts from the 19th to the 21st century. Museum Director Petra Lewey wanted an exhibition that would “attempt to approach the composer not only on a theoretical level, i.e., a cultural history overview of reception, but rather using contemporary visual arts strategies as well, to allow visitors to experience Robert Schumann and his music – both visually and emotionally – in a new way.”
For Seit ich ihn gesehen – Reflexionen zu Robert Schumann in der Kunst (documented in the exhibition catalogue of the same name), I brought together ca. 250 very heterogeneous artifacts, including artworks from various collections as well as widely varying interpretations of Schumann and his work from the worlds of art, literature, film, design and merchandising. I organized these into seven thematically linked areas, and often juxtaposed them with works of my own that I created for the exhibition. It was important to me not only to document Schumann’s impact on the art world, but to trace the path of his influence up to the present moment.
I worked with various people (incl. music historians, collectors, young musicians, music enthusiasts, school children, students) to create a series of new artworks for the exhibition. I created several photo and video works, including eight music videos for love songs by Schumann (produced in collaboration with high school students), as well as room installations, a poster competition (called “Robert!”, a fictitious image campaign for Robert Schumann), and interactive digital works (incl. a collection of YouTube videos with a Flash-based navigation). Several of these works were acquired by the Robert Schumann Haus in Zwickau after the exhibition and are now on permanent display there.
A dynamic program of events offered museum visitors many opportunities to get involved: e.g. the “Tango Schumann” workshop conducted by the London performance artist Anthony Howell and the South African dancer Lindi Köpke (see Tango Schumann).
MORE about the institutions involved: