"...EVEN THE EXPERT MARVELS!" – Works from the Olbricht Collection

22 OCT 2021 – 15 JAN 2023

Under the title “…even the expert marvels!”, the exhibition presents a selection of works from the Olbricht Collection that are juxtaposed to the walk-through Helm/Helmet/Yelmo display-case installation by Cuban artist duo Los Carpinteros. In this way, the show offers a contemporary interpretation of the collection-cum-exhibition principle underlying cabinets of wonders and stages it in a new form.

The cabinet of wonders arose at a time when human knowledge was growing immensely as a result of world voyages and scientific research: Natural objects, crafts items and artworks were increasingly arranged spatially to visualize the clearly inescapable diversity of new phenomena and experiences and render them tangible for viewers. In the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, cabinets of wonders were key objects of interest amongst the aristocrats and burghers.

Today, in the course of digitization and globalization of our lifeworld we are once again witnessing an incredible increase in information and images that are the results of completely differing knowledge traditions, artistic techniques, and notions of society. The principle of the cabinet of wonders is therefore all the more topical again by way of a model for an open and playful approach to “global knowledge”. Instead of presenting visitors with a single, dominant narrative (on art history, technological progress, modern sciences, etc.), such cabinets encourage you to become active yourself and ignore established hierarchies and narratives in order to forge new links and create your own stories.

The Helm/Helmet/Yelmo installation promotes such an approach in a special way: The structure of the helmet provides neither directions as to how the content should be read nor any context. The work, which was originally on loan from the two artists, was acquired in 2020 by collector Thomas Olbricht and assigned to Museum Folkwang on permanent loan. 

Across all dividing lines between epochs and genres, “…even the expert marvels!” offers a panorama of themes and artistic references. The heterogeneity of the exhibits, and they cover a period of more than 500 years, asks questions about transitions and ambiguities: Life or death, natural or artificial, original or copy. The exhibition title, borrowed from a piece by Sigmar Polke, refers in this regard to the passions of amazement and curiosity that drive the creation of knowledge and make each and every one of us a discoverer.

Kokosnusspokal in Form einer Eule, Deutschland oder Schweiz, um 1600 
Olbricht Collection, Foto: Kunstkammer Georg Laue, München/London

Wolfe von Lenkiewicz
Garden of Earthly Delights, 2012
Öl auf Leinwand, 240 x 476 cm
Olbricht Collection
Foto: All Visual Arts, London