3 August 1999

Two Exhibitions on Goethe

Goethe and Heidelberg
Goethe's Theory of Colour

Two exhibitions at the University Library until 28 August 1999

The exhibition "Goethe and Heidelberg", conceived and designed by Prof. Guenther Debon, traces Goethe's eight visits to Heidelberg, drawing on a collection of (largely) contemporary prints and numerous first editions for the purpose. The highpoints are the autumn of 1814, Goethe's first encounter with the Boisser‚e/Bertram collection, and autumn 1815 with its fine flowering of incomparable poems inspired by the poet's involvement with Marianne von Willemer. Also touched on are his visits to nearby Mannheim and Karlsruhe. Other themes of the exhibition are Goethe's relations with Heidelberg professors, his son August's law studies in Heidelberg (1808-9) and his grandson Wolfgang's period of study here, ending with his doctorate in 1845.
The final section is given over to the reception of Goethe as reflected in the works of Heidelberg University scholars from Gervinus and Kuno Fischer to Friedrich Gundolf and Karl Jaspers. The exhibits on show are mostly taken from private collections. The commentaries are detailed and cast a revealing light on Goethe's "Heidelberg experience". A catalogue with all the texts exhibited and 20 full-page illustrations is also available.

Less well-known and universally appreciated than the literary oeuvre is Goethe's "Theory of Colour" (1810), although it his most extensive single work (1400 pages). The second (and smaller) exhibition at the University Library comprises 10 showcases and 4 panels and attempts to acquaint its visitors with the main ideas of the work and its manifold connections with the intellectual climate of the age.

The exhibition takes its starting-point from Goethe's meeting with his brother-in-law J.G. Schlosser in Heidelberg (1793), where he spoke of his idea that "a society of men from various walks of life" might be persuaded to join forces to produce a kind of collective phenomenology of colour viewed from various angles.
Not finding the support he was looking for Goethe embarked on the monumental work all on his own. It appeared in 1810 and ran to no fewer than 1400 pages. The first volume contains the didactic and "polemical" sections, while the second is a history of the theory of colour. A volume of illustrations closes the work.
The exhibition – conceived and designed by Dr. Letizia Mancino-Cremer and Prof. Christoph Cremer – elucidates Goethe's theory with the help of books, texts, panels, optical instruments and paintings. Seven showcases in the corridor of the upper storey of the Library give a detailed idea of the six subsections of the didactic section of the work (on the physiology, physics and chemistry of colour etc.). In addition, the exhibits reflect Goethe's early interest in optics following his second Italian journey (1790), his engagement with Newton's ideas, his contacts with the physicist Lichtenberg and the reception accorded to his theory of colour. Three showcases in the exhibition hall of the library are designed to illustrate Goethe's conception of light as a living, spiritual and active principle. "Colours are the deeds of light, deeds and sufferings." Among the exhibits are a Merian Bible, Leonardo da Vinci's Trattato sulla Pittura, Goethe's works on optics and the first edition of the Theory of Colour, the first edition of Otto Runge's Farbenkugel and an edition of Plato from the 15th century. Goethe's interest in colour was not merely poetical. It made a major contribution to the development of the microscope by Carl Zeiss and Ernst Abbe in Jena. A microscope from the Goethe age (1780) is also on view.

University Library, Ploeck 107-109, D-69117 Heidelberg
Exhibition closes 28 August 1999
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Closed Sundays and national holidays

Exhibition organized by the Goethe Society of Heidelberg in conjunction with the University Library and the City of Heidelberg Cultural Department. Conception: Dr. Letizia Mancino-Cremer, Prof. Dr. Christoph Cremer, with contributions from Dipl.-Chem. Martin Rozumek, Gerhard Jaehnichen and Prof. Dr. Peter Brix. Artistic design: Dr. Letizia Mancino-Cremer.

Also on show at the exhibition are works by artists living in Heidelberg.

For further information please contact:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Universitaet Heidelberg
Pressesprecher/Public Information Officer
Postfach 105760
D-69047 Heidelberg

phone +49 6221 542310, fax +49 6221 542317
e-mail: michael.schwarz@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de

Page maintained by Pressestelle der Universitaet Heidelberg,
Copyright © Pressestelle der Universitaet Heidelberg.
Updated: 11.08.99