Schirn Kunsthalle
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Art - A Child s Play
dal 6/5/2004 al 18/7/2004
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Art - A Child s Play

Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt

The exhibition 'Art - A Child's Play' explores the fascinating world of art for children. With 200 works by 40 artists of the 20th century, the exhibition offers a first-time survey of the extraordinarily manifold and imaginative art production for children.

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The exhibition 'Art - A Child's Play' explores the fascinating world of art for children. With 200 works by 40 artists of the 20th century, the exhibition offers a first-time survey of the extraordinarily manifold and imaginative art production for children. In the early 20th century, representatives of the Wiener Werkstätte, the Bauhaus, and the De Stijl movement created novel programmatic children' toys, the architect Bruno Taut developed a glass construction set, and Pablo Picasso's dolls for his daughter Paloma and Alexander Calder's wire animals are miniature sculptural masterpieces. The architects and designers Charles and Ray Eames produced children's films, and Andy Warhol realized an exhibition specifically for children. Commissioned by the Schirn, Tobias Rehberger has created a 'wood' which children can walk through. 'Art - A Child's Play' is a show for the whole family with an architectural design tailored to children's needs: a landscape of platforms on different levels offers an ideal view of the works for young and old alike. The educational program of the Schirn accompanying the exhibition includes special children's hours, workshops, and competitions for school classes which make it possible to experience what art is about and allow free rein to the participants' creativity.

Max Hollein, Director of the Schirn Kunsthalle: 'With 'Art - A Child's Play,' the Schirn dedicates a major survey to a subject of 20th-century art history that has been neglected so far. Addressing both adults and young people, 'Art - A Child's Play' is an exploration of the world of art for children, almost a white spot on the map until now. Yet, the exhibition also reflects to what extent works of art served as projection surfaces for the artists' notions of childhood.'

It was in the beginning of the 20th century that children's toys became an essential issue to artists. The ground for this had been mainly prepared by the bourgeois culture of the Biedermeier epoch and its orientation towards family-life and the home, which had transformed the relationship between parents and their children. People had begun to develop a better understanding of what children wanted, and children's rooms, which had just served as sleeping rooms until then, turned into worlds for playing. The decisive step towards artistic children's toys is to be attributed to the Life Reform Movement around 1900 which supported simple toys suited for children that were to stimulate the young ones' fantasy and help develop their technical skills. For the first time, the idea was born to ask renowned artists to design such toys so that an education of taste might already set in at an early age. The Werkstätten für Handwerkskunst of Dresden were the first firm to put toys on the market that had been designed by famous artists such as Richard Riemerschmid or even Frank Wedekind.

At about the same time, members of the Secession and the Wiener Werkstätte like Josef Hoffmann, Koloman and Ditha Moser, Franz von Zülow, or Dagobert Peche also dedicated themselves to artistic toys in Vienna. About twenty years later, artists of the Bauhaus and the Dutch De Stijl movement, who centered on pedagogic and functionalist aspects resepectively, developed artistic devices for playing. But there is a fundamental difference between the Bauhaus and De Stijl toys and the elaborately decorated objects of the Wiener Werkstätte. With their plain geometric forms and their pure colors, these toys stood for simplicity in compliance with children and modern design close to industrial production. Outstanding examples for this approach are the pieces of furniture designed by the De Stijl artist Gerrit Rietveld. Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack's color top, Alma Siedhoff-Buscher's construction sets, or Marcel Breuer's children's furniture number among the Bauhaus's toy creations that were also very successful commercially. The architects participating in the circulars of the 'Gläserne Kette' in 1919/1920 designed children's toys, too: Bruno Taut a glass construction set and Hermann Finsterlin a style construction kit, which anticipated post-modernism, as well as fantastic wooden toys.

After World War II, there were fewer groups of artists that dedicated themselves to designing children's toys. An exception was the Danese company founded in Milan in the fifties which repeatedly realized artistic designs for toys by Bruno Munari and Enzo Mari. The American couple Charles and Ray Eames also developed artistic toys such as houses of cards with slits to be interlocked into various arrangements, coloring books, or films for children.

Throughout the 20th century, a number of artists also designed toys for their own children. Paul Klee created hand puppets for his son Felix, Lyonel Feininger carved an imaginary 'City at the End of the World' for his sons, Otto Dix surprised his stepson with his 'Bilderbuch für Muggeli' ('Picture Book for Muggeli'), and Pablo Picasso's dolls for his daughter Paloma dating from the fifties strike us as veritable works of genius. Inspired by his children, the art dealer Bruno Bischofberger approached Andy Warhol and asked him to realize an exhibition tailored to children in the 1980s, which will be reconstructed in the Schirn for the first time. The special thing about this show was that Warhol did not confine himself to producing pictures for children but also presented them in a fashion appropriate for children, i.e. at their eye level.

Works by Reinhard Mucha, Günther Förg, Michel Majerus, and Jorge Pardo, as well as Rosemarie Trockel's operative cars for children will exemplify today's artistic production for children. An installation by Tobias Rehberger, commissioned by the Schirn, invites the visitors to set out for a fantastic walk through a dense colorful wood of elastic bands stretching between floor and ceiling of the rotunda corridor, an area in which you may easily lose sight of each other.

The educational program prepared by 'Schirn Connected®' for children and adults, as well as for school classes, which accompanies the exhibition is particularly comprehensive and, apart from general guided tours, offers children's parties, theater performances, competitions for school classes, and birthday events for children in the Schirn. For detailed information on the program please contact Simone Boscheinen or Irmi Rauber from the Schirn educational team (phone: 069-29 98 82-140 or 112).

CATALOG: 'Kunst - Ein Kinderspiel'. Edited by Max Hollein and Gunda Luyken, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. With a preface by Max Hollein and texts by Gunter Gebauer, Gunda Luyken, Niklas Maak, Tilman Rammstedt, and Katharina Rutschky. German, ca. 300 pages, ISBN 3-937577-48-3, Revolver Verlag, Archiv für aktuelle Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, 34.80 euro.

Press preview: Friday, 7 May 2004, 11.00 a.m.

EXHIBITION DATES: 9 May - 18 July 2004. OPENING HOURS: Tue, Fri - Sun 10 am - 7 pm; Wed and Thur 10 am - 10 pm.

INFORMATION: phone: (+49-69) 29 98 82-0, fax: (+49-69) 29 98 82-240.

ADMISSION: 7 euro, reduced 5 euro; family ticket 15 euro; combined ticket including admission to the exhibition 'Life, Love, and Death: The Work of James Lee Byars' 10 euro, reduced 7 euro, family ticket 20 euro;

CURATOR: Gunda Luyken.


EXHIBITION ARCHITECTURE: Nikolaus Hirsch + Michel Müller with Nina Hollein.

SPONSORED BY: PWC-Stiftung, Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG. ADDITIONAL SUPPORT BY: Albert-von-Metzler-Stiftung, Schenker Deutschland International GmbH, 1822-Stiftung, Stiftung Ravensburger Verlag, koziol, Gemeinnützige Hertie-Stiftung. MEDIA PARTNERS: Kinderkanal von ARD und ZDF, Hessischer Rundfunk - Cultural Channel hr2, plan.F - das Veranstaltungsmagazin der Frankfurter Rundschau.

D-60311 Frankfurt am Main
Telefon: +49-69-29 98 82-118
Fax: +49-69-29 98 82-240

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