Kunstmuseum Schloss Derneburg is pleased to announce an exhibition by the German artist Peter Dreher, drawn from the Hall Collection. Featuring approximately 200 paintings from Dreher’s celebrated series, TAG UM TAG GUTER TAG, the show is supplemented by key works from earlier series, offering a context to the celebrated still lifes which defined Dreher’s career. While the artist is well remembered within Germany as a dedicated painter and professor, this is the first solo presentation of his work in Lower Saxony. The show will display his foundational series in various formats, including in grids and lines, offering varied and novel approaches to Dreher’s singular contribution to post-war German art.Peter Dreher was born in Mannheim in 1932 and knew he wanted to be a painter from the age of 10. From 1950 to 1956, Dreher studied at the Karlsruhe Academy, which was influenced by Abstract Expressionism from America and European Informel, both of which were hostile to realism. Dreher’s initial foray into abstraction in the 1960s was abandoned in favor of more realistic painting. An interest in Edmund Husserl’s teachings on phenomenology and Buddhist writing led to a decisive moment in 1972 to paint a simple glass of water, ultimately leading to Dreher’s most famous series, TAG UM TAG GUTER TAG. Continued over 40 years, the series included close to 5,000 variations by the time of the artist’s death in 2020, some of which were painted over by the artist himself. Within set limits of scale and composition, the series became a meditation on the act of seeing, permeated by themes of home, purpose, and autobiography.In an interview with Studio International, Dreher explained, “adherence to one motif and its repetition does not represent a limitation but rather a liberation. It allows me to concentrate on what is really important to me – the painting process itself. For this reason, I would describe myself as a happy Sisyphus. Rolling a boulder up a hill over and over again is neither destiny nor punishment but rather a self-made decision that I feel very comfortable with, because I succeed in seeing my subject (the glass) afresh each time – as if I were seeing it for the first time.”

Prior to developing his series of glass still lifes, Dreher used basic geometric shapes in his early monochromatic abstract compositions. Paintings like the comparatively large-scale ZUNGE (1970), two meters in height, are contemplations on form, light, and shadow. Its subject, a convex shape fit within a concave cavity, presents as an optical illusion on a flattened surface.
Dreher’s landscape paintings which the artist made in the Black Forest demonstrate his longstanding interest in realism, which allowed what he described as a personal freedom to focus on the act of painting itself. SERIE II (IV/II-X/II) 120C-127C (1973) is indicative of Dreher’s affinity for repetition. The individual panels, when viewed in succession, depict shifts in atmospheric conditions. For Dreher, the serial format – which he adapted in various ways throughout his career – served as a continuous dedication and fidelity to the experience of individual perception.

 Text Kunstmuseum Schloss Derneburg, all images by Roman März © courtesy Hall Art Foundation



Peter Dreher (1932–2020) studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts at Karlsruhe from 1950 to 1956 and was Professor of Painting at the State Academy, Karlsruhe, from 1968 to 1997.

Dreher is most remembered for his dedication to painting the same subject for years at a time, with crystalline realism, each example with barely perceptible variations. In DAY BY DAY, GOOD DAY (Tag um Tag, guter Tag), created between 1974 and 2014, Dreher painted over 5,000 works of the same motif – a simple water glass on a table in the artist’s studio in the Black Forest. Far from a merely conceptual exercise, returning to the same subject, again and aga...
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