„Abbild & Verwandlung“: New special exhibition in Bonn

Place of longing. ©Michael Raith


The hidden art of rocks: From 9 August, the exhibition “Abbild und Verwandlung” in the Museum Koenig Bonn shows thirty petrographics by Prof. Dr. Michael Raith. The emeritus geoscientist opens up fascinating insights into the marvellous microcosm of rocks and minerals. The artistically processed photos taken under the microscope reveal an inspiring mineral world of images featuring a wide variety of colours and shapes.

Michael Raith’s petrographics combine geology and art. What appears to be abstract art are natural structures of different geomaterials in the micrometre range. Brightly coloured or black and white, straight lines or flowing transitions – an incredible spectrum of colours and structures opens up to the viewers. Similarly diverse are the moods of the pictures and the emotions they evoke: sometimes cheerful and wonderful, sometimes serious and profound. “The pictures enable access to science and research methods through art, and open up new perspectives on nature,” says Prof. Dr Bernhard Misof, Director General of the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB), excited to present the special exhibition for a second time at Museum Koenig Bonn.


Metamorphosis. ©Michael Raith


The artistic microphotographs are based on the polarisation microscopic examination of materials (minerals, rocks, ores, synthesis products), one of the classical and still essential mineralogical methods of analysis. For this purpose, wafer-thin and finely ground sample slices, so-called thin sections, are prepared. These are translucent so that fine structures and colour appearances become visible under a transmitted light microscope. By using polarisation filters, light waves can be superimposed (interference effects) so that the materials appear in completely different colours.


Blue evening star. ©Michael Raith


Based on this research method, a hidden variety of motifs opens up to the artist’s eye. “The enormous possibilities of digital microphotography and image editing have played a crucial role in turning my artistic inclination into a passion. Even randomly found motifs can inspire me. Above all, however, it is inner moods and ideas that guide my eye in the search for motifs,” explains Michael Raith, on the development of his petrographics. The pictures create quite different associations from the viewer’s own experiences.

Information on the special exhibition:

The exhibition can be seen from 9 August to 25 September 2022 during the usual opening hours at Museum Koenig Bonn. There is no separate admission fee.


Background information on the artist:

Michael Martin Raith (*1940 in Madrid) has been professor emeritus at the Institute of Geosciences at the University of Bonn since 2005. His research focused on the internal structure and evolution of Precambrian continental crust, in particular the rock-forming processes occurring at great depths. The intensive microscopic processing of the most diverse geomaterials in the course of his long professional life awakened his enthusiasm for the fascinating visual world of a hidden microcosm early on.


Prof. Dr. Michael Raith
Tel. +49 2226-5168

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