Graphic experiments, garish compositions and intricate collages manifest the stylistic diversity of illustrations that will be shown at the Illustrative 2016 exhibition at the Direktorenhaus in Berlin. This year, the 32 most well-known illustrators prove the vivaciousness of illustration as an art form, which reinvents itself every year in the midsts of our digitally networked world. The curators of the Direktorenhaus have developed the Illustrative considerably: from a festival to a museum-like show. The Illustrative boasts a large unique collection of illustrative art that has been released within the last 10 years. Placing the generic approach of most art museums of reserving their rooms for “pure” art under scrutiny has led to appreciating illustration as an important art form and to providing a museum platform. Years ago, terms such as illustration and freeform art were huge contradictions – though not as much in earlier times. During the Bauhaus-era, artists like Lyonel Feininger oscillated between the worlds of art and of craft. With this year’s exhibition, the Direktorenhaus shows how closely linked illustration is to the artistic avant garde.
This year’s Illustrative is introducing a new element: an historic exhibition dedicated to the French illustrator Marie Duval, who “illustrated” herself as a faceless, flamboyant personality for posterity. Despite the historical excourse, the Illustrative will continue to be itself: a barometer of trends in illustrative style and content, and it is ceaselessly exciting to watch how zeitgeist crystallises into a new artistic essence in the not so distant future.