13 May - 9 October 2016
Gardens tell stories – stories of a yearning for paradise, stories of love, retreat, power and beauty. An exhibition for garden-lovers of all kinds.
Museum Rietberg invites you to take a stroll through the gardens of the world and through the world of gardens. This major exhibition of famous gardens from Japan to England also tells the stories of people who have sought inspiration, happiness, love, refuge or peace in gardens. They did not always find it, however, for death and treachery sometimes lurk behind herbaceous borders and hedges too. In search of a better existence or even rebirth in a garden of paradise far from the noise and dust of the world, people have striven to realise the garden of their dreams.
From the garden oases created in the deserts of ancient Egypt and Babylon to a stone garden in Kyoto, the idyllic sanctuary of a Chinese poet, a palace garden in ancient Persia, medieval floral hideaways, acres of parkland for the kings and princes of the Baroque era and seemingly boundless landscape gardens in England and Germany, the exhibition explores the sheer variety of garden art. Through the ages, artists, poets and flower enthusiasts have created, painted and written about gardens: works by artists such as Carl Spitzweg, Kitagawa Utamaro, Paul Klee, Max Liebermann, Wen Zhengming, Alberto Giacometti and others afford us a glimpse of some very private gardens and personal paradises.
The themes of the exhibition also feature in the work of contemporary artists such as Ai Weiwei, David Hockney, Roman Signer, Thomas Struth and others. Gardens and parks reveal much about the culture and era in which they were created, from the relationship between humans and nature to religion and ideas about the world beyond, to order and power, cultural exchange, feelings of freedom and imprisonment, not to mention the personalities of those who designed them. The exhibition presents paintings, plans, drawings, photographs, film excerpts and video installations from Japan, China, India, the Orient and Europe, taking us on a diverting and sensually stimulating excursion through the history of horticulture.
Supported by the Parrotia Foundation, the Vontobel Foundation, Swiss Re and Novartis. In cooperation with Grün Stadt Zürich as part of the Swiss Year of the Garden 2016.