Exhibition - Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty at the MKG Hamburg

Sagmeister & Walsh,

Aslan Kudrnofsky/MAK Wien, Henning Rogge,

Amburgo, Germania,


What is beauty and why do we feel so attracted to it? Stefan Sagmeister, the graphic design superstar from New York and Jessica Walsh seek to respond to this question in their new exhibition project called Beauty. A very personal and visually compelling case for the appreciation and enjoyment of beauty at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG).

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Exhibition - Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty at the MKG Hamburg The highly-debated concept of beauty depends to a great extent on personal tastes and experiences, and on the imagery of our own culture. is concept Over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, beauty has increasingly fallen out of favour in the design discourse. Over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, beauty has increasingly fallen out of favour in the design discourse. With their exhibition, Sagmeister & Walsh, the NYC-based design partnership between Austrian-born Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh aims to counter this distrust of Beauty with empirically founded arguments along with subjective observations, allowing us to experience beauty as a fundamental functional aspect of appealing design. 
Stefan Sagmeister takes visitors to the MKG - Museum of Arts and Tradecrafts - in Hamburg on a sensually pleasurable expedition into his own world of beauty, treating them to spectacular interactive and multimedia installations. A mix of installations created specifically for the show together with examples of product design, urban planning, architecture, and graphic design invites the audience to see, smell, and touch. Backed by findings in psychological aesthetics, Sagmeister & Walsh argue that beauty is more than just a superficial strategy: it has a pervasive influence on our everyday lives, stimulating our senses and ultimately making the world a better place. 
Around 70 groups of exhibits divided into six themes – “What is Beauty?”, “The History of Beauty”, “In the Eye of the Beholder”, “Experiencing Beauty”, and “Transforming Beauty” – spark an aesthetic conversation on beauty as a paradigm for high-quality design. The exhibition concludes with a “Beauty Archive” curated by Sagmeister & Walsh that features selected objects from MKG’s collection of over 500,000 works that they consider particularly beautiful. This best-of comprises over 60 objects spanning all disciplines and various cultures and eras, from ancient sculptures and Renaissance treasures from cabinets of curiosities to works on paper by Albrecht Dürer, fashion by Christian Dior, and toys by Lyonel Feininger to photographs, furniture, and a high-tech racing bike.
Visitors to the MKG are greeted by its spectacular staircase that has been decorated by an impressive installation of 216 "breathing" plastic bags by artist Nils Völker. An artwork that begs the question: "What is beauty?", so hotly debated through time by countless philosophers, scientists, psychologists, artists, designers and more, to which Sagmeister & Walsh respond with facts: beautiful things have a direct effect on our dopamine receptors and on our feelings, meaning that beautiful design can indeed be perceived as functionally effective. But beauty is also symmetry, as we can see in some parts of the installation, and this is a more universal component of what we find beautiful than we might think. Beauty has the potential to transform the world and the installation also shows that beauty is not restricted to sight but incorporates all the other senses as well.  Seeing is believing, and if you’re interested, the exhibition, which opened on 15 December 2019 is running until 26 April 2020.
Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty is an exhibition presented by MAK, Vienna, and the Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main. The exhibition was curated by Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel (MAK, Vienna) and was mounted at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg by Dennis Conrad and Simon Klingler. The Hamburg venue is made possible by funds from the Exhibition Fund of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the Hubertus Wald Foundation and the Justus Brinckmann Gesellschaft.

Christiane Bürklein

Exhibition: Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty
15 December 2019 to 26 April 2020
curated by Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel (MAK, Vienna)
Location: MKG Hamburg
Images: see captions, Aslan Kudrnofsky/MAK Wien, Henning Rogge
Find out more: https://www.mkg-hamburg.de/en/exhibitions/current/sagmeister-walsh-beauty.html


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