He was born in Greifswald, received his first drawing lessons here and later returned to the university town again and again: Caspar David Friedrich, the most famous painter of German Romanticism and a world-class artist. The city is celebrating his 250th birthday with a year-round festival featuring top-class exhibitions, concerts and many other attractions - so don't miss out!
Table of contents
1. The grand opening - concert with exclusive show
2. A festival of cheerful colors - the cathedral in a new light
3 "Places of longing" and "Hometown" - major special exhibitions
4. Family and life - Museum in Friedrich's birthplace
5. in honor of the companions - St. Spiritus Center
6. the perennial favorite - Caspar-David-Friedrich-Bildweg
7 "The Arctic Ocean" - world premiere in the cathedral
8th In a small, fine setting - rebirth of the salon series
9th Classical meets Modern - Music in the Eldena Monastery Ruins
10th "Cake for Caspar" - and light art festival for the finale
The Hanseatic city of Greifswald, with a population of 60,000, located between the islands of Rügen and Usedom on the Baltic Sea, will be celebrating its most famous son for a whole year in 2024. From January 20, the 250th anniversary of the painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) will be celebrated with around 200 events, lots of art, lavish parties, great music and endless salons. Here are ten good reasons to travel to Greifswald in 2024.
On January 20, 2024 at 6 p.m., the anniversary year will be ceremoniously opened in St. Nikolai Cathedral, Caspar David Friedrich's baptismal church. The Gothic brick building, first mentioned in a document in 1262 and located in the city center not far from the university, will be festively illuminated. Following the welcoming address by patron Claudia Roth and the keynote speech by art historian Florian Illies, there will be a real feast for the eyes and ears: The opening will be accompanied acoustically and visually by the internationally renowned electro musician Christian Löffler, who will give a concert with a light show specially designed for the cathedral. If you miss the already fully booked event, don't despair - there are so many other great events in Greifswald in 2024.
From the beginning of April, the interior of Greifswald Cathedral, which stands directly opposite the birthplace of Caspar David Friedrich and is closely associated with his family, will shine in new colors. The parish of St. Nikolai has succeeded in bringing a world star to the Hanseatic city. Ólafur Elíasson, a Dane with Icelandic roots and one of the best-known contemporary artists, has redesigned the east window group of the cathedral. It will bathe the church in a very special light, reminiscent of Caspar David Friedrich's color spectrum and honoring his legacy. The redesign will be officially inaugurated with a church service on April 7, 2024.
The Pomeranian State Museum, founded in 1990 and housed in a neoclassical building from 1843 and three outbuildings, is one of the hotspots of the anniversary. The most beautiful special exhibitions are held here almost all year round. It begins on April 28 with the opening of "Lifelines", where the museum's almost complete collection will be on display for the first time. The highlight of the exhibition "Places of Longing" from August 18 is the painting "Chalk Cliffs on Rügen", created by Friedrich in 1818 and one of his most famous works. "Wiesen bei Greifswald" is one of the highlights of the "Heimatstadt" exhibition, which opens on October 16 - and there is so much more to see here!
In addition to the Pomeranian State Museum, many other exhibition venues attract visitors to Greifswald. For example, the Caspar-David-Friedrich-Zentrum in Lange Straße 57, where the artist was born in September 1774 as the sixth of ten children. In the anniversary year, the exhibition "The Hidden Life of the Paintings" will open there on May 4, showing the relationship between the painter's works and his family members and how they ended up in various collections. It is also interesting to take a look at the historic cellar vault with his father's workshop, where soaps and candles were made.
A particularly interesting special exhibition begins in June at the St. Spiritus socio-cultural center, which also provides a platform for theater, cabaret, readings and other live events with its stages in a historic chapel and in the inner courtyard. The exhibition "Caspar David Friedrich: Friends and Acquaintances in Greifswald" is dedicated to the painter's companions. These include Friedrich's first drawing teacher Johann Gottfried Quistorp (1755-1835), who once worked as a university architect in Greifswald and managed the university's drawing room, the starting point for the later Caspar David Friedrich Institute. He was a friend of Friedrich and accompanied him on his sketching tours in Western Pomerania.
Not just for the anniversary year, but since 2007 it has been a must for visitors to Greifswald: the Caspar David Friedrich picture trail leads to a total of 15 stations in and around Greifswald that have a special connection to the artist's life. Some of the places also offer views and vistas that are immortalized in his works. The trail begins at his birthplace, today's Caspar David Friedrich Center, leads past world-famous sites such as the cathedral and the ruins of Eldena Abbey and finally ends at the Pomeranian State Museum. The entire circular route, which also includes the mouth of the River Ryck and the famous meadows near Greifswald, is around 18 kilometers long (around six hours on foot, two and a half by bike), but there are also two shorter sections.
Another world star is moving into St. Nikolai Cathedral. Christian Jost, one of the most respected composers of our time, has written a piece especially for Friedrich's anniversary, which will be premiered in Greifswald on July 26. The Berlin-based artist, who has composed for the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Residentie Orkest The Hague and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra created a concertante poem in three movements based on the painting "The Sea of Ice" (1823/1824) by Caspar David Friedrich for saxophone quartet, vibraphone and strings. The Zurich Chamber Orchestra, star violinist Daniel Hope and the SIGNUM saxophone quartet will be performing - goosebumps guaranteed!
From the end of the 18th century, it was a beloved tradition: Greifswald's salon culture. Current topics as well as atmospheric concerts found their place in the city's small, fine salons. To mark the anniversary, these events are being relaunched: 24 salons throughout the year offer space for topics related to the great artist. His wanderlust is just as much the focus here as the image of women at the time or socio-political discussions. The portfolio also includes very pragmatic topics, such as a salon dedicated to the weather in Friedrich's paintings in the presence of a meteorologist. Dates for the events should be obtained on a daily basis and booked quickly once they are announced, given the small scale.
Caspar David Friedrich loved the ruins of the Eldena monastery just outside Greifswald and made them famous worldwide with his paintings. His drawings and sketches can be seen in the "Eldena Room" at the Caspar David Friedrich Center. The former monastery also hosts plays, picnics and more. The absolute highlight will be provided by Weimar-based composer, pianist and producer Martin Kohlstedt on August 31. He combines classical piano and electronic beats in his music. Surprising and inspiring, daring and soulful - not to be missed!
On September 5, just in time for the 250th anniversary of the artist's birth, the artist's big birthday party will take place on Greifswald's market square. In addition to a varied program with theater, music and much more, there will of course also be a proper birthday cake. One of the highlights of the event is a joint project with the city of Dresden, later the artist's main place of residence, where he died in May 1840. The grand finale of the anniversary year will be a top-class light art festival in November: various locations in the city will be illuminated with the help of the Light Art Collection Amsterdam - Greifswald Autumn 2024 will be a colorful glow!
Cover photo: Caspar David Friedrich portrayed this market in a watercolor © TMV/Petermann
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