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Wanderlust or the desire to travel

jeudi 08 février 2018

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  • Le Voyageur au-dessus de la mer de nuages, Caspar David Friedrich
    The Voyager above the sea of clouds, Caspar David Friedrich
    (C) BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Elke Walford

Do you wish for a change of air, to explore the world, to see if the grass is greener elsewhere, to discover other ways of living and thinking and ultimately to find yourself? Then it sounds like you have some "Wanderlust"!


While the term might be German in origin, meaning literally "the desire to travel", the concept dates back many centuries. In the Middle Ages in Europe, the "peregrinatio academica", roaming from one university to another, allowed students to train while experiencing travel"  In the 16th and 17th centuries, the "Grand Tour" became part of the initiation and training in many disciplines for the young people of polite society.


The Grosse Gehege near Dresden, Caspar David Friedrich
(C) BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jürgen Karpinski


The intellectual upheaval that came after the French revolution led to new currents in thought, art and literature with the advent of Romanticism: the rediscovery of nature, introspection and the quest for universal values. Nature became a source of inspiration and refuge, a symbol of matrices and models.


Landscape, three children and a woman going for a picnic on a hill, Heinrich Kühn
(C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski


The word has a different relevance today; for city dwellers lost in an anonymous environment, it represents a complex combination of exotic discovery and a return to essentials. Cinema, literature and the arts have often looked at this search for oneself to the end of the earth. Several exhibitions are offering an exploration of the theme from different viewpoints:


Wanderlust: von Caspar David Friedrich bis Auguste Renoir
Alte Nationale Galerie of Berlin, from 10 May to 16 September 2018

Peintures des lointains
Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac, Paris, from 30 January 2018 to 06 January 2019

Enquêtes vagabondes, le voyage illustré d’Emile Guimet en Asie
Musée national des arts asiatique-Guimet, Paris, from 06 December 2017 to 12 March 2018


A journey in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh: "Cultivate your love of nature, it is the only way of improving your understanding of art"


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