Modern Cyclops: Adolph Menzel’s studies for the ‘Eisenwalzwerk’ (Iron Rolling Mill)

25.06.2004 - 19.09.2004

in short

The exhibition includes a display of several studies and sketches, which aid understanding of the completed work. They provide insight into Menzel’s working style and also the very complex procedures he followed in his search for adequate themes and compositions.
Exhibition has ended.
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Museum of Prints and Drawings
Matthäikirchplatz 8
10785 Berlin
Germany 

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in detail

The ‘Eisenwalzwerk’ (Iron Rolling Mill) is considered one of the most extraordinary and significant works of Adolph Menzel (1815-1905). Due to its complex significance this piece of work is still the subject of scientific research.

Menzel was one of the creators of modern historical painting through his challenging depictions of industrial life.

The ‘Eisenwalzwerk’ was acquired by the National Gallery shortly after its completion (1872-1875); its provocative modernity brought instant, and sensational fame. It soon became known as ‘Moderne Zyklopen’ (Modern Cyclops), a title which aimed to veil the dismal reality of an industrial worker’s life through elevating it to a mythological state.

The painting is the outcome of numerous sketches and studies, some dating back to 1872, when Menzel went to Königshütte, a huge iron mill in Upper Silesia. This was equipped with a highly-engineered rolling mill which Menzel used as a model for his later painting.

The exhibition includes a display of several studies and sketches, which aid understanding of the completed work. They provide insight into Menzel’s working style and also the very complex procedures he followed in his search for adequate themes and compositions.

The exhibition, organised by the Museum of Prints and Drawings, is being staged in the Old National Gallery’s hall for temporary exhibitions. These works will therefore be in close proximity to other painting and studies by Menzel, as the Old National Gallery holds the world’s most substantial collection of Menzel’s sketches.

Similar events based on different themes are also being planned. To support interaction among the museums of the national galleries of Berlin, and to overcome physical distance, the national galleries are developing a plan for ‘showcases’. The advantage of such a system is twofold: it enables museums to mount joint exhibitions and profit from greater interaction and co-operation, and creates strong focal points for visitors to the Museum Island.
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