€ 44.00

Date of publication September 2022

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Ed. Brigitte Kölle, Sandra Pisot, text(s) by Brigitte Kölle, Sandra Pisot, Johanna Hornauer, Jan Steinke, graphic design by Adeline Morlon


2022. 240 pp., 170 ills.


18.00 x 24.00 cm

ISBN 978-3-7757-5369-2

Breathing means life. What at first seems like an unconscious, biological process has manifold social and political dimensions. The book accompanying the large-scale exhibition at the Hamburger Kunsthalle deals with the different facets of breathing and its representation in the art of the Old Masters and the present. The result is an unconventional and exciting dialogue on an existential theme: from breath as a central biblical metaphor and as an expression of our relationship to the world, to air pollution and respiratory diseases, to Black Lives Matter (“I can’t breathe”). Even in ancient times, breath is considered more than just air flowing in and out of the body. It is a vehicle of life, of thought, of inspiration. In many world cultures it is an expression of the soul, of the divine. Our breathing begins at birth and accompanies us until the end of our lives. Nevertheless, it remains a matter of course in everyday life, which often only comes into view when it dwindles—through air pollution, pandemics or psychological and physical violence. Around 35 artistic positions from 18 countries are dedicated to the theme in its continuing significance and explore its current explosiveness. The art of the Old Masters and the present enter into a surprising dialogue about a global and existential theme.


Hamburger Kunsthalle

September 30, 2022—January 15, 2023

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