Washed With All Water

28 Nov 2023
Where would we be without water? We don’t just mean that in a literal sense, because we’d quite clearly not be here (it is the essence of life after all), but also in a cultural sense. Water does more than give us the chance to exist — it imbues our daily lives with so much more. History is full of water as an artistic muse, water as spirit, water as faith, water as lust and water as devotion. Water isn’t just the reason for life, it is life. In 2020, Kassel will give water the attention it fully deserves, with five fascinating exhibitions stretched across five of the city’s most important museums and galleries. Explore the history and symbolic evolution of water from prehistory to the beyond the future, and investigate just why it is so important as well as just how dangerous it can be. Check out all of the exhibitions if you can, you never know what you might learn. 

WasserLust at Schloss Wilhelmshöhe
It feels very refreshing to finally be able to type this in a guide, but hear us loud and hear us proud — baths are sexy. Some dissenting modern cynics might dismiss the practice as ‘lying in one’s own filth’, but not us, oh no, we’re all in on baths. Throughout history the practice has been tied to the erotic and themes of lust, from Diana and Venus all the way to the free body culture of the early 1900s, a constant theme in erotic art and private desires. At what point does the viewer become a voyeur? This exhibition at Schloss Wilhelmshöhe might help you work that out. 

WasserGeister at Neue Galerie
Water is the great life-giving substance, but it has also been a humongous inspiration for art throughout the entirety of human existence. This charming exhibition at the Neue Galerie explores that relationship from antiquity to the present day, showcasing everything from old Greek sculptures through to modern day graphics and approaching plenty of topical subjects in the process. What is the myth of water in life and in art?

WasserScheu at Orangery & West Pavilion
Ever wondered how the high society of yesteryear maintained their excellent aesthetics? How did the queens and wives of years gone by manage to look so beautiful in times of relative economic hardship? Water, that’s how. Taking place in the none-more-authentic surroundings of the Orangery and West Pavilion, this exhibition pulls back the curtain on the personal care of Kassel’s historic high society, covering everything from washing and hairdressing to the all-important job of emptying the chamber pots. Lovely. 

WaterMeister at Hessisches Landesmuseum
Water is the master of all things. Thirsty? Water will quench your thirst. Want to drink something a little more flavoursome? Water helps to create it. Water is many things to many people but almost all activity on the planet depends on it, be they activities of sustenance or activities of leisure. Water also has a dark side; it can make you ill if it is even the slightest bit contaminated, and not a year goes by without horrific flooding somewhere in the world. The diversity of water is arguably its most incredible characteristic. Water really is the master of all things. 

WasserPracht at Schloss Wilhemsthal
28 magnificently restored figures will adorn a makeshift grotto at the stunning Schloss Wilhemsthal, showcasing the splendid design qualities of water. H2O gives us life but it also gives us inspiration, and these marvellous pieces of art will shine a light on water as design, water as a muse. 


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