Exhibition poster

Annette Messager
Exhibition / Exposition

27 September, 2014 – 22 March, 2015

Annette Messager is a key figure on today’s international art scene, an artist whose oeuvre prepared the ground for contemporary French art. Nonetheless, her last solo show in a German museum took place almost 25 years ago. Now, this exhibition at the K21 provides art lovers with an opportunity to rediscover her. On view will be works dating from the late 1980s to the present. The series Les interdictions en 2014 was produced especially for the exhibition at the K21.

The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen purchased the large-scale installation Sous vent (2004–10) in 2011, thereby augmenting its collection with a major position in contemporary art. Diverse objects including an oversized hand, a foot,  bodily organs, and plush animals, all covered by a black silk veil that is set into motion by air streams generated by three fans. In this work, the artist alludes to the forces of nature, but also to the unconscious and to the fears that lurk in the deep layers of the psyche. During the exhibition at the K21, Sous vent will be on view in an installation measuring more than 20 meters in length.

During more than 40 years of artistic activity, Annette Messager (born 1943) has developed a highly concentrated visual language. While in the early 1970s, she worked primarily with stuffed birds, embroidery, and collections of images, the spectrum of materials and themes later expanded quickly. Added were photographs, installations with cuddly toys and  items of clothing, and beginning in 2001, large mechanical systems as well. Playing a central role for Messager in  particular is the human body and its attributes. These are dismembered by the artist, who then twists them together  into something new using thread and mesh. Through the accumulation and stringing together of the most delicate elements, Messager generates a visually stunning cosmos.

Among Annette Messager’s recent works is the striking installation Continents noirs (2010–12). Like tiny islands, black, crumpled elements hover in the air. The piece is reminiscent of the setting of a science fiction film, but is also evocative of a bleak future. Inspired by Gulliver's Travels, the work’s title returns to a statement by Sigmund Freud, who said that   female sexuality was like a dark continent that represented an uncharted continent for psychoanalysis. The new work Les interdictions en 2014 consists of 68 drawings (a reference to the revolutionary events of May 1968 in Paris) that  represent various forms of prohibition from around the world. These range from everyday restrictions such as bans on taking photographs or smoking, all the way to censorious laws based on cultural-political values such as the ban on  women driving in Saudi Arabia. Here as well, Annette Messager addresses serious themes, the forces that concern and define people in everyday life, in a poetic and humorous manner.

Curator: Florence Thurmes

Partner and Sponsors:
Sponsored by Fashion- und Lifestyle-Company Breuninger,
Media partner: Handelsblatt

Exhibition poster

Wael Shawky
Cabaret Crusades

September 06, 2014 – January 04, 2015

In his first major museum exhibition in Germany Egyptian artist Wael Shawky (*1971) presents his film trilogy Cabaret Crusades, in which marionettes cabaret-like reenact the history of the medieval crusades. Shawky’s multiple awarded films explore the ways in which projections and manipulations of the foreign, as well as confrontations with it, actually function. What lies behind the multi-faceted mechanisms of constructing and telling history? While the first two parts of Shawky’s Cabaret Crusades will be expansively screened at Grabbehalle from 6 September, the in cooperation with the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen produced third part The Secrets of Karbala will be shot in the same space and premiere at 4 December. Until then Wael Shawky and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen will transform the  exhibition space into a site of art production in an unprecedented way.

In Cabaret Crusades, among the much discussed discoveries at Documenta 13, richly detailed and costumed marionettes perform against fantastical backdrops, reenacting the martial events of the eleventh-twelfth centuries in ways that are simultaneously childlike and gruesome. The scenario of the trilogy is based on the book “The Crusades Through Arab Eyes” (1983), the work of the French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf (*1949). Shawky mixes together the European perspective, notoriously shaped by fantasy and wishful thinking about the Middle East, with Arab forms of representation. With the historical Crusades, Shawky takes up a theme that seems highly current today, even 1000  years later, in light of current and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. Today as well, the locations featured in the film, among them Aleppo, Damascus, and Baghdad, are theaters of war. Inevitably, these puppets, controlled by strings, and seemingly set in motion by remote control, pose the question: Who really pulls the strings of history?

Curator: Doris Krystof
Curatorial Assistant: Ansgar Lorenz

The exhibition is funded by Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation).

Sponsored by Fashion- und Lifestyle-Company Breuninger,
Media partner: Handelsblatt

Funded by Ministerium für Familie, Kinder, Jugend, Kultur und Sport des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen

Exhibition poster

To Egypt!
The Travels of Max Slevogt and Paul Klee

6 September, 2014 – 4 January, 2015

Among travelers to Egypt were the Impressionist painter Max Slevogt (1868-1932) and Paul Klee (1979-1940), a leading representative of the artistic avant-garde. In the exhibition To Egypt! The Travels of Max Slevogt and Paul Klee, approximately 130 paintings, watercolors, and drawings – all produced in connection with their Egyptian travels – elucidate the upheavals that occurred during the transition from Impressionism to Classical Modernism. This exhibition has received generous support in the form of high-quality loan works from museums in Germany and abroad, along with renowned private collections. Complementing the presentation of artworks are historic photographs and documents.

During his Egyptian trip, Slevogt produced a singular cycle of powerfully colorful paintings. These works, now preserved in Dresden, are extraordinarily fragile, and are permitted to leave the museum that houses them only in exceptional cases. Slevogt’s highly individual achievement provide a counterpoint to Paul Klee’s idiosyncratic and poetic pictorial universe: the selection of works by Klee range from the early drawings produced around 1900 to the striking late works of the 1930s.

This exhibition juxtaposes the works of a pair of artists who, although coexisting during the same period, exemplify highly divergent pictorial traditions and intellectual worlds. Not only did Slevogt and Klee experience Egypt differently, they processed their artistic perceptions in markedly contrasting ways. Slevogt journeyed to Egypt in spring of 1914, when the country was still under British colonial rule. His journey (which also took place during the German Imperial era), stood in the tradition of the Grand Tour typically undertaken by painters of the Orient. Fifteen years later, during the turn from 1928 to 1929, Paul Klee followed the same route from Alexandria via Cairo and Luxor to Aswan. Now under altered political and social conditions, his journey took him to a country that had achieved independence in 1922. With the foundation of the Weimar Republic at the end of World War I, Germany too experienced a political reorientation.

Both artists had been familiar with the culture of ancient Egypt through exhibitions held in Germany after major excavations such as those at Tell el-Amarna, where the celebrated Bust of Nefertiti was discovered in 1912. Slevogt’s image of Egypt was also stimulated by fantastical tales such as The Thousand and One Nights, which captivated him already as a child, and served as a continuous source of inspiration for paintings and illustrations. As early as the period around 1900, Klee had incorporated forms into his works that are reminiscent of the pyramids and hieroglyphs. A trip to Tunisia in 1914 further fueled his interest in North Africa and the Orient. The impressions Slevogt received in Egypt sparked a hitherto unprecedented coloristic and compositional virtuosity. Not the historic ruins, the pyramids and temple remains, stood at the center of Slevogt’s interest, but instead the people, everyday life at the marketplaces, along with the endless desert landscape. Unlike Slevogt, Klee traveled to Egypt alone and with minimal luggage. Klee produced almost no work in Africa, instead reflecting upon and transforming the visual stimuli he received there in a series of new works only after returning to his studio.

An Exhibition of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf.

Curator (Düsseldorf): Anette Kruszynski
Assistant (Düsseldorf): Florence Thurmes

Partner and Sponsors

The Exhibition is supported by:
Farrow & Ball,
Fashion- und Lifestyle- Company Breuninger,
Media partner: Handelsblatt

Funded by Ministerium für Familie, Kinder, Jugend, Kultur und Sport des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen

Exhibition flyer

Katharina Sieverding
mal d’archive

May 10 - September 21, 2014
(Bel Etage)

Katharina Sieverding’s Stauffenberg-Block (I–XVI /1969), from the permanent collection of the  Kunstsammlung, forms the center of this exhibition in the Bel Etage of the K21. Due to its enormous dimensions, this ensemble – consisting of 16 large-format color photographs of the artist – can be shown only infrequently.

The title refers to Claus von Stauffenberg, the resistance fighter who was  executed in 1944 after a failed assassination attempt against Hitler. This early work is combined with two additional series (Maton Solarisation 1969 and Transformer Cyan Solarisation 1973/74). All three ensembles involve the continuous transformation of self-portraits of the artist, which are interpreted conceptually. Their serial repetition calls into question the capacity of the single portrait to capture the individual‘s identity.

These three work groups are juxtaposed with two photographic works from the series Visual Studies 2002, as well as an archival storage unit (ORWO 2014), which is presented as a spatial object. These works allude to the polymorphous pictorial archive upon which Katharina Sieverding bases her work, one whose thematic and visual implications she continually reconstitutes.

Sieverding’s oeuvre has evolved over a period of four decades into a wealth of statements that are  situated between polarities such as individual and society, sensibility and critique, presence and withdrawal.

Curator: Marion Ackermann

The exhibition is sponsored by: NATIONAL-BANK
Corporate partner: Breuninger
Media partner: Handelsblatt

Exhibition poster

Beneath the Ground. From Kafka to Kippenberger

Quadriennale Düsseldorf
05.04. - 10.08.2014

With Beneath the Ground. From Kafka to Kippenberger, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen devotes a wide-ranging exhibition to the theme of the subterranean. During the twentieth century, the motif of  displacing human habitation below the Earth's surface was strongly associated with both utopian and anti-utopian projects.

By the late nineteenth century, the idea of an inhabitable realm below the surface of the earth had evolved into a much-favored literary topos. Both visions of hell and caves as affording protection were associated with the idea of shifting the living space below ground level. Freud’s  investigations into human psychology, and in particular the correlation between the unconscious and the  physical location of the cellar in C.G. Jung’s early twentieth century dream interpretation, have had an   enduring impact on constructions of the subterranean in both the popular and artistic imaginations. Equally decisive was the traumatizing experiences of two world wars and the utilization of the underground for bunkers.

The motifs developed in the realm of literature – in particular the interdependency between the lower  depths as protective zone and place of danger – have served as points of reference and sources of  inspiration for both modern and contemporary artists. The various segments of the exhibition deal with entrances to and transitions between below-ground spaces, with withdrawal into and emergence from the underground realm, with its link to the unconscious or the uncanny, with the role of the bunker and of subterranean defense systems, as well as with juxtapositions of fictive and concrete spaces. The works in the exhibition – drawings, photographs, videos, sculptures, objects, and accessible installations – allow the theme to be experienced with immediacy.

Among the numerous literary interpretations of this motif, Franz Kafka’s unfinished story "The Burrow"  (1923-24) is accorded special prominence in the exhibition. From the perspective of an animal, Kafka  describes how a subterranean system of corridors reminiscent of a maximumsecurity unit is fashioned with  agonizing perfectionism. The burrow is simultaneously a safe haven and a space of threat. Published for the first time as an independent volume in collaboration with S. FISCHER Verlag and illustrated with drawings by Roni Horn, this story accompanies viewers through the exhibition.

List of artists:
Christoph Büchel, Thomas Demand, Max Ernst, Peter Fischli David Weiss, Roni Horn, Mike Kelley, Martin Kippenberger, Kris Martin, Henry Moore, Matt Mullican, Bruce Nauman, Gregor Schneider, Thomas Schütte, and Jeff Wall

Curators: Marion Ackermann, Kathrin Beßen, Florence Thurmes

The exhibition is sponsored by:
The German Federal Cultural Foundation,
The Stiftung Kunst, Kultur und Soziales of the Sparda-Bank West,
Breuninger, the fashion and lifestyle company
Media partner: Handelsblatt

Exhibition poster

Olafur Eliasson - Your exhibition guide

Quadriennale Düsseldorf
05.04. – 10.08.2014

In collaboration with the Kunstsammlung and in direct reference to the exhibition "Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian: The Infinite White Abyss," (ended on 6 July 2014) Olafur Eliasson has developed an unusual project that prepares visitors for the presentation in astonishing ways. Through his fusion of large-scale installation and digital app, Eliasson opens up a space of experience – an exploratorium that strives to counteract the progressive mummification of our senses by a ceaseless daily flood of images and information.

In 11 brief films and an introduction, Eliasson addresses the viewer directly in his exhibition guide: This work challenges visitors to question their own interactions with art. How do we respond to works of art and to our surroundings? What conclusions do we draw from our experiences? What do we feel when we perceive works of art? What happens both before and after an encounter with the work, and how can we succeed in activating the entire spectrum of sensuous experience?

Beginning on April 5, 2014, Your exhibition guide can be downloaded to smartphones or tablets free of charge from the App Store or from Google Play for the system software iOS or Android. Moreover, visitors to the K20 can  borrow iPads for their exhibition visits. As a preview, excerpts of the app will be published on #32, the new online magazine of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen.

Eliasson’s project Dein Ausstellungsguide is a part of the LABOR program of the Department of Education at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, and is sponsored by the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf and the Sparkassen Kulturstiftung Rheinland.

Exhibition poster

Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian -
The Infinite White Abyss

Quadriennale Düsseldorf
April 5, 2014 - July 6, 2014

The K20 explores in its exhibition the complex subject of the white surface in the works of Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. White was for the avant-garde pioneers not only an element in their colour palette – it was a symbol of a future world.

At the beginning of the 20th century many artists distanced themselves from art as imitation of reality. Among those who began to explore abstraction were Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. What distinguished these three avant-garde artists was that they saw non-representational art as the harbinger of a higher spirituality and a new social order. They felt that every step taken away from naturalistic imagery and in the direction of pure line, colour and form brought them greater freedom.

The white surface played a crucial role for all three artists. In Malevich’s paintings, the white background is a void before which his geometric shapes seem to float. White was for Malevich non-objectivity in utmost perfection –evoking the ideal of a positively evolving society. With great enthusiasm, he urged his fellow artists in 1919 to “swim in the white free abyss, infinity is before you”. For Wassily Kandinsky, the white field symbolises a world in which all colours have vanished. White, according to Kandinsky, “affects our psyche like a silence of great magnitude.... This is not a dead silence. It is full of potential.” Piet Mondrian’s panel paintings, with their juxtaposition of the primary colours red, yellow and blue with the non-colours white, black and grey, express a longing for universal harmony.

Numerous exhibitions have been devoted over the years to the work of these important avant-garde artists – but now the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is for the first time showing at the K20 works from the years 1909 to 1941 selected specifically for their handling of the colour white. The exhibition will in addition examine in detail the influences to which the three artists were subjected in their day, conveying these by way of interdisciplinary presentations. 

Based on the artistic concepts of the three avant-garde painters, the contemporary artist Olafur Eliasson is developing in conjunction with the Kunstsammlung a room designed to rensensitise viewers and prepare them in a surprising way for the exhibition while permanently raising their awareness of the complex perceptual and material qualities of white.

On the occasion of Quadriennale Düsseldorf the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen will present in parallel with the exhibitions at K20 and K21 a programme at Schmela Haus called Futur 3 featuring interviews and discussions with prominent figures.

Curators: Marion Ackermann, Isabelle Malz
Assitant Curator: Ansgar Lorenz

The exhibition is sponsored by: Kunststiftung NRW, HSBC Trinkaus,  Schwarzkopf, Breuninger, the fashion and lifestyle company, Media partner: Handelsblatt

Exhibition flyer

Gerhard Richter.
Art in the Plural

February 15 March 09, 2014

»I saw – and continue to see – editions as a welcome balance in relation to the production of one-of-a-kind paintings. They offer a marvelous opportunity for me to convey my works to a wider public.«
(Gerhard Richter, letter to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1998)

Gerhard Richter is one of the most eminent German artists of the present day. His paintings, sculptures, and installations are represented in numerous museums and private collections around the world. Alongside works in these genre, he has also produced editions, that is to say prints, photo editions, multiples, editions of paintings, artist’s books, and posters. Here we find artistic originals that are produced not as unique works, but instead in larger editions. Working in editions offers Richter the opportunity to make his works available to a larger public. At the same time, they allow him to explore the boundaries of the pictorial in an especially varied and experimental manner.

This selection of editions, most of them produced during the past ten years, are being loaned by the Olbricht Collection, which owns the most comprehensive collection of Gerhard Richter’s edition works worldwide. This exhibition marks the forthcoming appearance of a new catalog raisonné of Richter’s editions.

The exhibition is sponsored by
The Breuninger fashion and lifestyle enterprise

Media partner: Handelsblatt