#MakartNow

On 1 October 2020, we opened a new collection presentation: MAKING HISTORY - Hans Makart and the Salon Painting of the 19th Century. At the centre of this exhibition, which will run until at least 2023, is the museum's largest painting, The Entry of Charles V into Antwerp (1878) by Hans Makart (1840-1884). It measures no less than 50 square metres and is one of the most famous paintings in the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Yet it has been and still is the subject of controversial debate. This is due, among other things, to the depiction of the naked young women flanking the ceremonial entry of the Habsburg Emperor Charles V in Antwerp on 23 September 1520 – a historical event that did not take place in this way.


Makart was obviously more interested in provocative staging than in a reliable reproduction of real events. His strategy worked: The monumental painting has since been regarded as one of the scandalous pictures of the era and marks a high point in the painting of historicism. At the same time, it can look back on an eventful exhibition history: The last time it was even hidden behind a wall was in 2016. Since then, it had no longer been on view.

For all these reasons, our director, Prof. Dr. Alexander Klar, has decided to show it again together with around 60 other paintings and sculptures from the 19th century.

Divided into thematic sections, the assembled works tell of the complexity, contradictoriness and seductiveness in the art of that time. Some works offer our contemporary gaze a tightrope walk between eroticism and sexism, participation and voyeurism, fact and fantasy, kitsch and social criticism as well as nostalgia and a backward-looking attitude.

Because we believe that these works – first and foremost Makart's scandalous painting – should be shown, but we want to convey and negotiate such works appropriately, we have developed a special, participatory education concept alongside the catalogue and app, with the motto: »Question art, make up your own mind and share your opinion!«

In addition to the classic on-site screens and questions placed on social media, the concept encourages visitors to look closely at and question the exhibited works and to engage in discussion.

An accompanying booklet, available in analogue form and for download, takes up these very questions and provides partial answers.

The two books Makart Then and Makart Now are available in the hall. They trace the ambivalent reception of Makart’s painting from its beginnings to the present day (Makart Then) and challenge visitors to continue writing about it from our present-day perspective (Makart Now). The hashtag #MakartNow can also be used on social media.

We have also asked well-known authors, feminists and art historians such as Dr. Reyhan Şahin aka Lady Bitch Ray, Mirna Funk, Anne Petersen, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and Prof. Dr. Hubertus Kohle as well as our colleagues for their opinion. Browse through a small but fine selection below and form your own opinion on this basis!

We would also like to ask you for your participation. We are looking for more voices on our Makart. To do so, leave us a message in the book Makart Now when you are on site or by using the hashtag #MakartNow on social media.

- What do you think of Makart's monumental painting?
- Is it scandalous again today?
- Do you find the painting provocative?
- Do you think it is sexist or is this a rhetorical question?
- Are facts as important as imagination?
- How do you see power depicted here?
- How do you think museums should deal with works like this one?

Please feel invited to comment on it! We are looking forward to your opinion, because the Makart Hall, as the opening room of the tour through the museum collection, should in the future sensitise all visitors to look at the works exhibited both appreciatively and critically!

From 9 September, a new series of guided tours (in German) on the theme of #MakartNow is planned to start once a month on Thursday evenings, in which staff members will share their very own view of Makart in dialogue with Andrea Weniger (Head of Education & Outreach), present other favourite works from the collection and give insights into their work.

Dr. Reyhan Şahin aka Lady Bitch Ray

»Hans Makart’s painting quite literally stands for imperialistic, cis male dominance, unfurled across 50 square metres of canvas. If this picture could talk, it might tell us: Well I’m Makart Me, I got bitches galore/ You may have a lot of bitches but I got much more like rapper Easy E. once said, although he at least came from the lower rungs of society and as a gangsta rapper didn’t know any better. But what was the privileged Hans Makart trying to express with this picture? A man LORDing it over women, queer and poor people, who look up to the horse of Emperor Charles V like humble subjects? Down with this social injustice!

While it is good to critically question old paintings from the past, this questioning should be made more evident. Because through the very fact of being exhibited, this painting reproduces sexism and classism and glorifies colonialism. That’s why I think it would be better if the Hamburger Kunsthalle would hang a curtain or sign in front of the painting as a trigger warning, maybe with the words: Caution, this picture contains sexist, classist and colonialist elements! so visitors can decide beforehand whether and how they want to view the painting. This would also avoid the impression of a matter-of-fact acceptance of this pictorial scene.«

DR. REYHAN ŞAHIN, also known under the artist:in name Lady Bitch Ray, researches the topics of language, migration, Islam, racism, right-wing extremism and the New Right. With her sex-positively charged feminist music and public performances, she is one of the pioneers of intersectional feminism in Germany. Her latest releases include Yalla, Feminismus! (Yalla, Feminism!) (2019 Tropen/Klett Cotta) and Lady Bitch Ray über Madonna (Lady Bitch Ray on Madonna) (2020 KiWi). Lady Bitch Ray can be found on Instagram as @dr.bitch_ray and on Twitter as @LadyBitchRay1.

 

 

Mirna Funk

»Every art object is an expression of its time. It may be manipulative, political or simply aesthetic. It can want all or nothing. But whatever the artist’s motive, the object is embedded in a specific epoch with its own values, traditions, trends and taboos. Currently we are living in a kind of dictatorship of indignation, in which everything that does not correspond to the latest standards is to be forbidden and suppressed under the pretext of THE great progressive liberation movement. This totally ignores the need for contextualization and continuity as well as complexity. This movement, with its claims to absolute perspectives, terminologies and moral definitions, unfortunately demonstrates one thing above all else: a complete lack of historical consciousness. We have become what we are. Art has become what it is. And having become inevitably implies a further becoming. The world, society, human beings – no one and nothing is heading for an end point in paradise; instead, we are all part of a forever-becoming. I know it’s a bummer. You gotta learn to live with it

MIRNA FUNK was born in East Berlin and lives between Berlin and Tel Aviv. She studied philosophy and history at the Humboldt University and works as a journalist and author. In her literary works, essayistic and journalistic works as well as curatorial projects, Mirna Funk explores questions about the presence of Jewish culture in Germany today and a present-oriented culture of remembrance. Since 2018, her column Jüdisch heute (Jewish Today) has appeared monthly in German Vogue. Mirnka Funk can be found on Instagram as @mirnafunk.

 

Prof. Dr. Alexander Klar

»Today, the 19th century seems far in the past, but in Hans Makart's painting it suddenly confronts us as if taken from life. In this painting, we are not only looking at a life-size, seemingly realistic historical scene, we are also looking at the social reality of Makart's time, in which women were assigned either the role of the audience or the (stripped) maidens of honour.«

PROF. DR. ALEXANDER KLAR was born in Waiblingen near Stuttgart and grew up in Athens. He studied art history, history and Christian archaeology in Erlangen. In 2000 he received his doctorate from the Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen with a dissertation on Friedrich Bürklein. After positions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (1997), the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice (2000) and the Kunsthalle in Emden (2002-2004), he became director of the Museum Wiesbaden from 2010 until June 2019. He has been director of the Hamburger Kunsthalle since July 2019.

Prof. Dr. Hubertus Kohle

»A succession of nudies as a decorative retinue for the male hero? For such instances, in fact to fight against them, we have today the hashtags #metoo and #cancelculture! But should we simply erase all that we’ve overcome? No, because then we would no longer be able to gauge our own position in the grand scheme of things. Hans Makart is a voice from the past, even if in the apparent apotheosis of the ruler in this historical juggernaut he actually creates an apotheosis of the artist, an apotheosis of Albrecht Dürer, who stands by observing the entry of the German emperor into the town of Antwerp. Why not juxtapose this monumental painting with modest evocations of women’s real lives? With Käthe Kollwitz’s fatigued and grieving mothers from the Weavers’ Revolt? With Constantin Meunier’s toiling female miners? Then viewers can form their own judgement and not passively fall victim to an intrusive preselection. We live after all in a society of self-reliant individuals.«

PROF. DR. HUBERTUS KOHLE studied in Bonn, Florence and Paris. He wrote his dissertation on Denis Diderot's art theory in 1986 and habilitated on Adolph Menzel's Friedrichbilder in 1996. He was an assistant at the University of Bochum and a university lecturer at the University of Cologne. Since 1999 he has been a professor at LMU Munich, specialising in German and French art of the 18th to 20th centuries and in digital art history. He is currently the spokesperson for the DFG priority programme Das Digitale Bild (The Digital Image). Prof. Dr Hubertus Kohle can be found on Twitter as @hkohle.

 

Anne Petersen

»What is capable today of causing a stir like Makart’s Habsburg emperor and his undressed beauties? Where can we still find such business acumen, purposefully deployed permissiveness, well-orchestrated surfaces and such an enthusiastic audience? Instagram comes to mind. Oriented wholly on visual appeal, the only reason posts are created is to attract an audience. The rush of visitors to the Vienna Kunsthaus, even before Makart’s huge canvas was exhibited at the 1878 Paris World’s Fair, gave the artist just what he wanted: attention. Nudity, sex, body parts, we’ve seen all that in much more detail in contemporary art. But the principle still works the same in these days of Me Too: The more bare skin, the more likes. Is she now standing on a beach in Dubai or Ibiza? Shouldn’t Emperor Charles V be shown entering Aachen and not Antwerp in such a festive manner? Facts do not take precedence here over fantasy. It’s what pleases that counts. Long before cinema was invented, Makart offered his audience breathtaking blockbusters, showcasing spectacle, opulence, beauty and eroticism. That is a lot less mundane than most feeds from the world’s leading influencers. And yet, salon painting from the nineteenth century has been criticised as superficial, unintellectual, merely decorative. But it was in fact a mirror of its times. And that’s sort of what Instagram is today.«

ANNE PETERSEN studied art history, politics and communication science in Munich and Paris. After graduating from the German School of Journalism in Munich, she worked in the style section of Welt am Sonntag. In 2004, she joined the BRIGITTE editorial team at Gruner + Jahr. Since 2014 she has been head of SALON magazine. Her book Legendäre Dinner (Legendary Dinners) was published by Prestel-Verlag. She is the mother of four children. Anne Petersen can be found on Instagram as @anne_petersen and for @salon_magazine.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich

»So much artistic self-confidence! The sheer size of The Entry of Charles V into Antwerp attests to this. What’s more, Hans Makart placed himself between the emperor and Albrecht Dürer, demonstratively staging himself as an artist prince. But above all, his privileged position allowed him to lend free expression to his fantasies. So he painted himself surrounded by scantily clad women, for whom Viennese society ladies involuntarily served as models. The mighty man evidently took pleasure in disposing over others as he pleased, and even in exposing them. He self-importantly took advantage of how art can transcend reality and invent more beautiful worlds. Other artists, by contrast, rely on this capacity of art to develop utopian visions – to lend greater dignity to people who are oppressed, marginalised and powerless in real life. Time and again in the history of art, the weak have been raised up in this way. But someone as powerful as Makart had no interest in empowering others.«

WOLFGANG ULLRICH lives as a freelance author and cultural scientist in Leipzig. Before that, he was a professor of art history and media theory at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe for about a decade. He originally comes from Munich, where he studied philosophy and art history. He researches and publishes on the history and critique of the concept of art, on topics related to the sociology of the image and on consumer theory. He is co-editor of the book series Digitale Bildkulturen published by Klaus Wagenbach. - More at: www.ideenfreiheit.de. Wolfgang Ullrich can be found on Twitter as @ideenfreiheit.

Dr. Markus Bertsch

»A Kunsthalle without salon painting, without Orientalists, without academic art, without Makart – difficult. 
The redesigned Makart Room gives our visitors a vivid impression of how polyphonic and at the same time contradictory the nineteenth-century choir of paintings really was.
Showing these paintings again offers enlightenment in the best sense of the word – although for some eyes they may take some getting used to. Hooray!«

DR. MARKUS BERTSCH is curator for the collection presentation Making History and Head of the 19th Century Collection at the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Gesa Huget

»I think it’s good that the picture has been unveiled again. 
For me, it’s first of all the sheer size and the play of light that catches my eye and makes me want to take a closer look. I have never stopped to wonder whether the historical event shown here has been reproduced factually. The pompous staging, the ruler surrounded by naked women, automatically make me think of show and make it obvious that Makart is exaggerating here, putting an imposing story on canvas. 
Makart is of course sexist in how he depicts the naked women as trophies of the male ruler. But this is an effective motif that is still widespread today, immediately bringing to mind music videos, for example.«

GESA HUGET is Head of Engagement & Patnerships at the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Dr. Jan Metzler

»Power, sexism, violence ... 
How do we as a museum propose to deal with this art? What do we want to say about it? How are we to exhibit it? 
As I do not yet have an answer that I find convincing, my personal response is first to pause and reread Klaus Theweleit’s wonderful book MALE FANTASIES
Written 40 years ago, it’s still just as relevant and brilliant as when it first came out. Because the issues of power, violence, class and gender are as pressing as ever these days.«

DR. JAN METZLER is Head of Communications & Marketing at the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Amelie Baader

»Makart’s colossus wouldn’t pass the would I hang this in my living room test for me, and not just because of its size. 
But he was able like no other artist of his day to brilliantly place himself at centre stage and make people talk about him!
Makart is a phenomenon and should not be missing from a collection presentation that aims to show the nineteenth century in all its rich facets and contradictions!«

AMELIE BAADER is curatorial assistant for the collection presentation Making History and works on the 19th century collection catalogue at the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

 

Jasper Warzecha

»I find the work difficult and it makes me uncomfortable, particularly because Makart’s deliberately excessive depiction of naked women can be understood as sexist.
But to take that as a reason never to show the work again? For me, that’s not an option. Rather, the difficult aspects should be pointed out and addressed. Because in the best case the work stimulates discussions that might even open some people’s eyes.«

JASPER WARZECHA is Research Assistant at the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Martina Gschwilm

»Makart’s work generates are so many questions, and that’s what makes the painting so intriguing. Is the work provocative? Yes, hopefully ... or have our viewing habits already become so accustomed to considering such things normal, omnipresent, that we no longer interpret it as provocative? Is the work sexist? That’s already the wrong question, because, objectively speaking, this should not even have to be negotiated anymore. I am nevertheless pleased that the gigantic work measuring 50 square meters is on display again. Presented anew, it allows enough space for all the questions that can still be asked about it. It is the task of a museum to make space for all sorts of thought-provoking impulses, reflections, and also today’s point of view, a task that is also acknowledged in the planned supporting programme.«

MARTINA GSCHWILM is Head of Digital Media at Kunsthalle Hamburg.

Ute Klapschuweit

»In all the background noise, I have already read and heard so many comments that rip this picture apart. What a fanfare from a bygone era! And now the entire room is tuned to this key. If it is now called sexist – that sounds like so much new morality, so much narrow mindedness and so little generosity! Why not sensual, opulent, splendid, grand – in order to then again become thought-provoking to its detriment or in the form of presentation. In my eyes, this is the Kunsthalle’s great strength. Everything is here – everything is possible – everything is simultaneous! The ghosts of the past – how exciting to be able to conduct a dialogue with them today!«

UTE KLAPSCHUWEIT is staff member in the Education Department at Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Custodial Team

»Our Makart 
We think it’s great that our largest painting has been awakened from four years of hibernation. It is after all an impressively large picture with a lot of potential for discussion. No matter how old visitors are and which social class or era they come from. This painting inspires from every angle joyful but also tough discussions. The picture is a wonderful stimulus (provocation) and underscores how morals and values can be judged in so many different ways.«

CUSTODIAL TEAM of the Hamburger Kunsthalle

Larissa Lange

»The question of whether or not the Makart is sexist is, in my opinion, very difficult to answer in a thoughtful way. On the one hand, such works must be considered in their respective (historical) contexts. How did a viewer perceive the work at the time it was created? The fact that it was the target of much criticism even back then lends credence to the charge of sexism, indicating that we don’t just feel that way today. At the same time, one must not forget that nudity and especially naked women are omnipresent throughout the history of art. Are all these works now to be stamped sexist in their own way? Would the Makart here be considered less sexist if he had incorporated mythological figures? Probably the work would then be perceived differently, in my opinion. Despite all these questions, I think the main thing is that works of art, particularly those of such great value and artistic significance, should be exhibited and not hidden away. So thank you for letting us look at it again.«

LARISSA LANGE is a student assistant in the Communications Department at the Visitor's Service of the Hamburger Kunsthalle.