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exhibition: A Collector's Cabinet of Curiosities: Objects for a Wunderkammer from 16th to 19th Century

dates: 28 October 2004 - 29 January 2005

Kunstkammer Georg Laue, specialists in Renaissance objects of curiosity, present in collaboration with Peter Freeman, Inc. an exhibition of exquisite Kunstkammer objects. This installation, the first of its kind in America, coincides with the exhibition "Princely Splendor: The Dresden Court: 1580-1620" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Renaissance aristocracy amassed these elaborate collections–Kunstkammer can be literally translated as "chamber of art," Wunderkammer as "chamber of curiosities"–of the finest manmade objects and intriguing natural oddities. The focus is on all that is rich and strange: sculptures carved out of amber, precious stones set in gold and silver mounts, ivory turnings, the horn of a rhinoceros, the mummified corpse of a "mermaid," trees of coral mounted on ornate bases.

Reflective of the Age of Reason, these fantastic collections were meticulous examples of the systematic classifications that eventually became the accepted way of ordering, and thus understanding, the world. The Kunstkammer was a direct quest for knowledge, and is in our present day a way to study a time when active curiosity about our phenomenal world was a focus for both scholars and collectors. These are the objects that reveal knowledge of the physical world and the invention of "art," and in many ways inspired the beginning of the history of collecting.

And there are other connections between Kunstkammer objects and 20th-century art. Most obvious is the relationship each has to the moment in history when, in the 15th century, revolutionary ideas like the development of linear perspective, and a more scientific approach to image rendering, were first introduced. While Kunstkammer objects represent the beginning of this new way of thinking and seeing, artwork from our most recent century and today indicate how this historical foundation still affects us.

This exhibition is composed of objects that define previous eras, revealing previous histories and ideas that contributed to our present period. It is the gallery's ideal to choose the very best objects that best reflect the world around us, filtered by an eye and an intelligence. Making a great collection demands connoisseurship, founded in long hard study, whether it is a collection of Kunstkammer objects or a collection of Pop or Minimal art.