Salon at Ossmannstedt Estate © Klassik Stiftung Weimar

Winckelmann. Modern Antiquity

7 April - 2 July 2017 at Neues Museum Weimar

Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) is widely regarded as the founder of modern archaeology and aesthetics. With his view of ancient art as possessing »noble simplicity and solemn greatness«, he was a pioneer of European aesthetics during the Classical period. In commemoration of Winckelmann’s 300th anniversary, the Klassik Stiftung Weimar and the German Studies department of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg present the first comprehensive exhibition on this influential researcher, writer and critic who strongly shaped our modern view of antiquity.

Winckelmann grew up in poverty. His path in life led him to Halle, Jena and Dresden, and finally to Italy where he gained international fame in papal Rome. Winckelmann was many things – a passionate visionary, a learned enthusiast and an intellectual adventurer who put everything on the line to achieve his life’s dream. His violent death, which stunned Goethe and his contemporaries like a »clap of thunder«, played no small role in making him a revered and eminent figure throughout Europe within a few short years.

Like a kaleidoscope, the exhibition demonstrates the fascinating power of Winckelmann’s extraordinary life and his revolutionary works in which antiquity and modernity commune. Exquisite items from German and international collections illustrate the impact of his aesthetic, anthropological and political ideas from the end of the 18th century to the present day. It will be the first time that three portrait paintings of Winckelmann from collections in Weimar, Zurich and New York are presented together in one exhibition.

In cooperation with the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Funded by the Cultural Foundation of German States, the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, in collaboration with Schwules Museum* in Berlin.

The exhibition is part of a joint research project, conducted by the Klassik Stiftung Weimar and the German Studies Department of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.
More information about the research project

Project director:
Dr. Bettina Werche (Klassik Stiftung Weimar)
Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Décultot (Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg)


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Gallery (9 Pictures)

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Catalogue of the exhibition: