Solitude was built in the late baroque style by Charles Eugene, Duke of Wuerttemberg, in 1763/64 during the Age of Absolutism as a hunting lodge, summer residence and retreat. The raised building, situated in a clearing at the edge of a forest, simultaneously marked the newly drawn boundary between political business and civilization on the one hand, and nature and the wilderness on the other. This tension between representation and seclusion can be interpreted as a metaphor for the art and artists of today who, like Charles Eugene 250 years ago, seek to withdraw without disappearing entirely from public view.
»Temple Solitude« by Ariel Schlesinger surrounded by fellows in summertime. Photo: Frank Kleinbach
With the construction of Solitude, Duke Charles Eugene succeeded in creating a place that has retained a special kind of appeal and charisma in the most diverse of functions ever since. Here, we recall the military academy Hohe Carlsschule, founded at Solitude, with which Akademie Schloss Solitude – despite all the differences – is repeatedly compared, or Schiller’s father, who professed faith in the future with his tree nursery, founded in 1775. Over the past 250 years, the annexes of Schloss Solitude have been used for everything imaginable: A military hospital in wartime, an inn or prison in peacetime, the origins of land surveying, a spa, hotel or meeting place for the first gymnastics clubs, the finish of automobile races, a radio receiving station, a camp for the Reich Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst) during the Nazi years, a veteran’s home for the blind after World War II, and most recently, in the 1960s and 1970s, as a halls of residence. The Akademie is aware of this history, but acknowledges, above all, that the process of artistic development is invariably measured against the quality of the art created at Solitude during the baroque period: The works by Guibal and his students, La Guêpière, Noverre or Jommelli. If one considers the baroque ambience at Solitude as the generally recognized and acknowledged quality of culture, then the art promoted and facilitated by the Akademie represents the unknown. It inevitably calls hitherto common cultural representations into question. This tension gives rise to artistic contrasts which, although fruitful, are not necessarily able to corroborate the idyllic character of Solitude.