Caspar David Friedrich

Art for a New Age

Press information

Major anniversary exhibition will show iconic works by Friedrich such as Chalk Cliffs on Rügen and The Monk by the Sea alongside recent artistic responses to Friedrich exploring new perspectives

The Hamburger Kunsthalle will mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Caspar David Friedrich (1774 Greifswald–1840 Dresden) with a celebratory exhibition. CASPAR DAVID FRIEDRICH. Art for a New Age, to run from
15 December 2023 until 1 April 2024, will be the biggest review of work by the exceptional Romantic painter for many years. It centres on a themed retrospective with more than 60 paintings, among them many major iconic works, and about 100 drawings. The relationship between people and nature, which found novel expression in Friedrich’s landscapes, is a key thematic strand. His treatment of this subject was an essential factor, during the first third of the 19th century, towards transforming landscape painting into »art for a new age«. Also featured are about 20 selected works by colleagues such as Carl Gustav Carus, Johan Christian Dahl, August Heinrich and Georg Friedrich Kersting. Their paintings and studies build on Friedrich’s œuvre, but they also suggest new visions of nature. The deep fascination unleashed by Friedrich’s works has been enduring and they lend themselves with great facility to present-day issues, as demonstrated by a second, separate section of the exhibition, which will bring together responses to Friedrich in contemporary art. In contributions ranging from video and photography to installations, some 20 artists working across a variety of genres and media, both here in Germany and abroad, set out to explore the Romantic era, its attitude to nature, and the art of Caspar David Friedrich. The participants include Elina Brotherus, Julian Charrière, David Claerbout, Olafur Eliasson, Alex Grein, Hiroyuki Masuyama, Mariele Neudecker, Ulrike Rosenbach, Susan Schuppli, Santeri Tuori and Kehinde Wiley.

Superb and extremely rare loans of paintings by Friedrich, among them Chalk Cliffs on Rügen (c.1818–1822), The Monk by the Sea (1808–1810) and Two Men Contemplating the Moon (1819/20), will be on show alongside works from the holdings of the Hamburger Kunsthalle such as Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (c.1817) and The Sea of Ice (1823/24). These works are Romantic icons. Friedrich applied his painterly skills to probing the ability of a landscape to express questions of his time, to tapping the potential associated with representations of nature and to finding ways to communicate with the viewer. His output of drawings was likewise prolific and the exhibition devotes special attention to these. Spending time in a natural outdoor environment in order to produce art was a distinctive characteristic of Romantic practice and essential to Friedrich’s œuvre. The exhibition honours the autonomous quality of his drawings and does not present them merely as studies of natural details to be integrated later into his paintings. Indeed, Friedrich’s sensitive attempts to capture nature are frequently reflections of his subjective standpoint.

The unique atmosphere that speaks to us from Friedrich’s works with their powerful motifs and compositions has inspired many artists to enter into a dialogue with their Romantic colleague, especially given the current relevance of ecological issues. The tension between the gradual destruction of the environment and a yearning for »untouched nature« has been an unbroken force from the Romantic age down to our own times. In Friedrich’s day, however, the Romantic perception of nature carried national connotations, whereas today’s artists approach the natural world and climate change from a global perspective. In this spirit, the exhibition embraces recent work devoted to the darker sides and absences in Romantic art and later reactions to it. Colonialism and its impact on people and natural resources are as much a theme here as the Western, hegemonial concept of nature and its expressions in art. All in all, the show presents a broad spectrum of concrete visual reworkings, some of which express a far more abstract take on Friedrich’s specific technique and his themes. The exhibits include two big adaptations of Friedrich by the American artist Kehinde Wiley (*1977), which reflect critically on an art canon informed by white Western input. A colour circle by Olafur Eliasson (*1967) accurately reconfigures the pigments used in Friedrich’s painting The Sea of Ice, albeit in a very abstract composition. Ann Böttcher (*1973) shows drawings which address the forest motif and nationalistic projections of it. The photographs by Elina Brotherus, who at one point places herself in the frame in a nod to Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, raise issues about gender-based attitudes and ways of seeing in Romantic art. Finally, a video installation by David Claerbout (*1969) offers visitors a software-generated immersive experience of the natural environment.

The show is accompanied by a versatile programme of events and numerous information formats. KOSMOS CASPAR is an information space in the middle of the exhibition where visitors can emulate Friedrich’s graphic skills at a digital and analogue drawing point and revisit their own relationship with nature aided by smell and touch. Several audio tours can be found on the Hamburger Kunsthalle app: one in German/English for adults lasting 65 minutes, one in German for children aged 8 and over, one in Plain German, videos in German Sign Language and audio descriptions for visitors with little or no sight. A broad range of on-site guided tours will be complemented from February 2024 by a digital alternative offering tours in 360° format (German/English).
The exhibition catalogue (512 pages, 350 illustrations, published in German by Hatje Cantz – with an English edition expected in late February/early March 2024) offers a variety of perspectives on Friedrich’s work and a thrilling dialogue between the Romantic understanding of nature and present-day ecological views. The book can be purchased in the museum shop for 49 euros or at the book trade price of 54 euros from


CASPAR DAVID FRIEDRICH. Art for a New Age is the third significant Friedrich project by the Hamburger Kunsthalle following the legendary exhibitions of 1974 and 2006.

The exhibition at Hamburg’s Kunsthalle is the prelude to the Caspar David Friedrich Festival. To celebrate the anniversary year, the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden will each follow suit with shows on their own themes. The three museums boast the world’s biggest collections of works by Friedrich. A reciprocal flow of substantial loans will permit unprecedented displays on different aspects of his œuvre. These exhibitions to mark the 250th anniversary of Caspar David Friedrich’s birth enjoy the patronage of Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
To complement the Festival, the Hamburger Kunsthalle has teamed up with the Alte Nationalgalerie/ Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden to set up the Web portal with curated multi-media content around Friedrich’s art as part of the broader project Culture Data Space (Datenraum Kultur). This is one of several flagship projects set up under the Federal government’s Digital Strategy to facilitate digital networking between cultural establishments and to promote the independent exchange of arts-related data. The project has been fully funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Implementation has been entrusted to the Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften e.V. (acatech), the Ministry of Culture and Media in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT).

Curator and project manager: Dr Markus Bertsch, Head of the 19th Century Collection
External curator: Prof. Johannes Grave, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena
Assistant Curator: Ruth Stamm
Curatorial Trainee: Laura Förster
Coordinator for the Caspar David Friedrich project and Web portal: Petra Bassen

Culture Data Space / Web portal for Caspar David Friedrich: Christian Auffarth,
Clara Blomeyer, Dr Katharina Hoins


The exhibition has been organised in partnership with: Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena

Lead exhibition sponsors: Hapag-Lloyd, Hapag Lloyd Stiftung
Co-sponsors: Freund der Kunsthalle e. V., Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Kulturstiftung der Länder, Martha Pulvermacher Stiftung, Else Schnabel, Christine and Heinz Lehmann

The project Datenraum Kultur is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media


Haspa-Galerie: The Hamburger Sparkasse has been committed for many years to supporting the Hamburger Kunsthalle. As a token of gratitude for this generosity, the second upper level of the Gallery for Contemporary Art, where the contemporary responses to Friedrich will be on show, has been named the »Haspa-Galerie«.

Cultural partners: NDR Kultur, Behörde für Kultur und Medien Hamburg                                                   
Media partners: Hamburger Abendblatt, arte


Claudia Roth, Federal Minister of Culture: »Caspar David Friedrich was able to translate his affinity with nature into a highly aesthetic pictorial idiom of his own. At the same time, his works show how directly humans are interwoven with their environment. With a view to the current challenges posed by climate change, the works of Caspar David Friedrich come across as a painterly plea to protect nature in all its beauty and vulnerability.«

Michael Behrendt, Chair of the Supervisory Board of Hapag-Lloyd AG and the Board of the Hapag-Lloyd Stiftung: »Hapag-Lloyd and the Hamburger Kunsthalle are two Hanseatic institutions which have resided here for more than 150 years. They are united in playing a big role in how the world perceives Hamburg. That is why we accepted the invitation straight away and are delighted to act as a lead sponsor in supporting this anniversary exhibition of the great Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich.«

Prof. Markus Hilgert, Secretary General to the Kulturstiftung der Länder: »Caspar David Friedrich lived, as we do now, at a time when the issue about how humans and nature relate was being posed in entirely new terms. The Hamburger Kunsthalle is showing his key works and framing them in the context of artistic perceptions of nature in times of climate change. I am pleased that our cultural foundation has resolved, in this Friedrich jubilee year, to provide funding for not one exhibition, but three – in Hamburg, Berlin and Dresden – which will honour and present his work from different angles.«

Dr Peter Tschentscher, First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg: »Caspar David Friedrich is the most significant artist of the German Romantic period. He revolutionised landscape painting in his day and with it the way people saw nature. Many contemporary artists take an interest in his work, which was produced at a time of radical political and technological change. The exhibition looks at one of Germany’s best-known artists through new eyes.«

Dr Carsten Brosda, Minister of Culture and Media, Hamburg: »This exhibition launches the Friedrich Jubilee Year, which will be celebrated all over Germany. The Kunsthalle in Hamburg is enabling us to experience the work of Germany’s leading Romantic artist and is assembling his iconic paintings, the best-known of which, the Wanderer, has its home at the Kunsthalle. The exhibition will also feature contemporary works to demonstrate just how relevant Friedrich’s central theme, the relationship between people and their environment, remains for us today.«


  • The exhibition has extended opening hours: Tue to Sun from 10 am to 7 pm, Thu to 9 pm.
  •  Visitors require a time ticket (available online and at designated booking offices). Any remaining tickets can also be purchased at the counter in the old wing of the museum. The ticket time relates to admission (it does not restrict the length of visit) and is valid for all other areas of the museum.                     
  • For social media communications about the exhibition follow the tag #CDF250.

Caspar David Friedrich Installation View