PHOTO: © Max Ernst, 4 Oiseaux et 5 soucoupes volantes, 1953, Öl auf Leinwand, 73 × 100 cm, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2024

Poesie der Elemente

In the organizer's words:

Whether philosophy, alchemy, religion, esotericism, natural science or art: a wide variety of disciplines have been studying the four elements for centuries. The idea that the earth or the entire universe is made up of fire, water, earth and air dates back to ancient times. According to Aristotle, there is also a fifth element, which he calls ether or quintessence and describes as a non-worldly substance. Nevertheless, the name of the four-element doctrine, which recognizes a primordial principle with transformative powers that is both dynamic and always valid, became established. This idea remained an important point of orientation for all knowledge until the Enlightenment. With the advent of new discoveries and insights in the natural sciences, particularly in chemistry, the term element was reinterpreted. It is now understood to mean substances that cannot be further separated; the periodic table classifies them.

From today's perspective, the explanation of the world with the four-element theory seems outdated, but the questions that were asked at the time still remain unresolved: How did the earth and the universe come into being? And is there a principle that determines everything? What happens after death? These existential questions are certainly one reason for the continuing fascination associated with the four elements. The search for the quintessence of things has driven artists throughout the 20th century. However, they are also interested in the representability of the invisible, such as air, breathing or light, as well as the fascination with natural phenomena in general.

In six chapters, the exhibition paints a multifaceted picture of the examination of the elements in the 20th century. Works by Joseph Beuys, Marcelle Cahn, Robert Delaunay, Max Ernst, Kazuo Katase, Frantisek Kupka, Alicja Kwade, Roy Lichtenstein, El Lissitzky, Louise Nevelson, Otto Piene, Jackson Pollock, Ljubow Popowa, Thomas Ruff and Günther Uecker, among others, will be presented.

Curator: Julia Nebenführ

This content has been machine translated.


Wilhelm Hack Museum Berliner Straße 23 67059 Ludwigshafen am Rhein

More Shows

Get the Rausgegangen App!

Be always up-to-date with the latest events in Ludwigshafen!