Installation view at K21 with works by Thomas Schütte and Thomas Struth,
Thomas Schütte: © VG Bild-Kunst, Thomas Struth: © Artist, Photo: Achim Kukulies

Auswertung der Flugdaten:
Art of the 1980s: A Düsseldorf Perspective

September 11, 2010 – January 30, 2011

The exhibition “Auswertung der Flugdaten” throws a spotlight on the art of the 1980s from a Düsseldorf perspective. Featured are works by 10 internationally recognized artists who emerged from the milieu of the Düsseldorf Art Academy.  The presentation is supplemented with a selection of works by seven artists from various countries having shared attitudes, aims, and working approaches. On view will be nearly 70 sculptures, installations, and photographs, including multipart works, by Richard Deacon, Katharina Fritsch, Andreas Gursky, Reinhard Mucha, Thomas Schütte, Jeff Wall, and others.

The 1980s have often been misjudged as conservative or artistically sterile. In reality, the decade was characterized by radical upheavals. The east-west conflict was gradually defused, and the contours of the era of globalization emerged with increasing clarity. To an unprecedented degree, contemporary art received the attention of a wider public, and was reshaped as an important component of the “culture industry.”

In Düsseldorf, the internationally oriented art scene of the 1960s and 70s, exemplified by artists such as Bruce Nauman, Daniel Buren, and Marcel Broodthaers, continued to exercise a strong influence on the academy milieu and the gallery scene. Here, younger artists like Schütte, Mucha, Gerdes, and Fritsch signaled their mistrust of the purported breakthrough to Neo-expressionist painting — a tendency which shaped broad swathes of German art production at that time. Instead, they attempted to revive the critical potential of the avant-garde, in the process striving to expand and transform it in enduring ways. Acquiring greater emphasis now were the pictorial, metaphor, narrative, memory, and mise en scène. In their art, late Modernism reflects upon itself, while at the same time opening itself up to the themes and forms of the contemporary lifeworld. Central to their concerns is sculpture in its diverse manifestations, but also photography, whose trajectory toward its current worldwide status as a central mode of visual art was launched here in Düsseldorf.

“Was Neo-expressionism really the way out of the crisis of Modernism?,” asks curator Julian Heynen. “This exhibition presents a different picture. It seeks to present a reflective and sensuous art at the highpoint of the epochal upheaval of so-called Postmodernism – and moreover in its multiplicity and in its divergences.”

“Auswertung der Flugdaten” casts a focused gaze on a decade during which the art of Düsseldorf (and of Germany as a whole) enjoyed enormous prestige internationally. All of the exhibited works date from the 1980s, and are among the key works through which these artists first gained wider public recognition. The presentation demonstrates how these creative personalities — who found themselves in a situation often characterized as the “neue Unübersichtlichkeit” (the “new complexity”) — reinterpreted central aspects of modernist art after the decline of avant-gardism, thereby supplying impulses for the postmodern situation which continue to make themselves felt even today.

The exhibition is supported by Stiftung Kunst, Kultur und Soziales der Sparda-Bank West.

Exhibition poster

Joseph Beuys. Parallel Processes

September 11, 2010 – January 16, 2011

Through his activities, Joseph Beuys expanded our concept of the work of art: he believed in the power of art to change people, and he imagined both social and artistic utopias. Manifesting itself progressively has been his worldwide influence, one that remains detectable even in the most recent art production. Among the altogether circa 300 works on view at the Kunstsammlung am Grabbeplatz and at the Schmela Haus are masterworks such as “zeige deine Wunde (Show your Wound)”; 1974/75), “The pack (das Rudel)” (1969), and “Fond IV/4”(1970/71).

A number of installations, on loan from major museums and private collections, are leaving their permanent locations for the Düsseldorf exhibition the first time since the death of the artist. Shown in Europe now for the first time is the large-scale installation  “Stripes from the house of the shaman 1964-72” (1980). Also featured is a comprehensive selection of drawings, objects, plastic images, and relics from Beuys’s actions, all of which establish interrelationships between art and life in singular ways.

Coming together in “Parallel Processes” are sculptural and pictorial aspects, theoretical reflections, and art actions, along with this artist’s idiosyncratic transformations of working materials and objects, to form an extraordinary portrait of Joseph Beuys’s unique lifework. Invested with a new contemporaneity and urgency are both the sculptural qualities of his art and its performative potential. Experienced with great immediacy throughout nearly 3000 ft.² of exhibition space is the complex network structure which joins Beuys’s artistic oeuvre into a coherent totality.

This exhibition forms part of the program of the Quadriennale 2010, organized by the regional capital of Düsseldorf. A scholarly collaboration between the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen and Friedrich-Schiller Universität in Jena has received substantial support from the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). Under preparation since 2009 by a team of young researchers and commencing this coming January is a symposium on Beuys. The setting will be the former Galerie Schmela, recently acquired by the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia – a venue where Joseph Beuys made art history with his exhibitions and actions during the 1970s and 1980s. The program draws upon the participants’ catalog texts on the individual works and on the thematic areas which preoccupied Beuys. Exploring a range of possibilities for presenting Beuys’s works during the run-up to the exhibition was the successful lecture series BEUYS AUSSTELLEN? (Exhibiting Beuys?; Nov 12, 2009 – June 24, 2010), organized by the Kunstsammlung and developed in collaboration with Prof. Wilfried Kuehn and the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe.

Photo: Sebastian Drüen

The Reopening of the K20 Grabbeplatz
July 10, 2010

The Presentation of the Permanent Collection

The overriding priority of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is to foreground and highlight the exceptional qualities of the works of art in the collection. Encountering one another and museum visitors now in an entirely new presentational form are masterworks by masters such as Max Beckmann, Joseph Beuys, Georges Braque, Max Ernst, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, René Magritte, Henri Matisse, August Macke, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Gerhard Richter, and ranging as far as Andy Warhol. The collection is conceptualized as a unity, and is on view now in a purist and self-referential format, but one which introduces a new rhythm. New, more finely subdivided spatial units within a meandering structure make it possible to guide viewers directly toward large-format, individual works within an intimate itinerary. The new hanging accentuates the museal aspect, fostering a sense of tranquility, permanence, and validity while offering visitors the certainty of rediscovering the familiar. At the famous “American Gallery” too is celebrated on its own terms, albeit in a new constellation.
On view in the presentation of the permanent collection in the 1st and 2nd upper levels are approximate 200 works of art.

Artists’ Projects for the Reopening
Sarah Morris: Hornet (2010)
K20 GRABBEPLATZ, Paul Klee Platz
Beginning July 10, 2010

In 2008, Sarah Morris (* 1968) won a competition to install a project at Paul Klee Platz. The artist, who lives in New York City, used tiles in order to create an enormous image for the northern terminal wall of the plaza. With its complex geometric structures and luminous coloration, “Hornet” alludes to the vibrant textures of the metropolis. But the effect of her image is ambivalent: on the one hand, its allover structure emphasizes the planarity of the wall, while on the other, it resembles a relief composed of numerous convolutions. “Hornet” (6.78 x 26.89 m) was executed in June 2010, and consists of hand-painted, high-gloss ceramic tiles measuring 30 x 30 cm.

Lokal Lieshout / Lieshout Pub
K20 GRABBEPLATZ, 2nd upper level
Beginning July 10, 2010

For the light-flooded space of the former Café Zwey into the second upper story of the K20, the Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout (*1963) and his Rotterdam studio have provided a total interior design: kitchen furnishings, a bar that projects far into the room, tables, chairs, lamps, a bookcase, even tableware. All surfaces have received a colored application, with choice of color being determined by “guided” chance procedures. In his design, Van Lieshout responds to the modernist art found on display in the adjacent galleries, opposing to it a world of “primitiv/moderne” (to cite the work’s title), consisting of massive forms, seemingly hewn from stone. Like Jorge Pardo, who designed the Bar am Kaiserteich in the K21, van Lieshout’s studio is occupied with a space filling works, multifunctional units, and complex installations which reside in the field of tension lying between contemporary art, design, and architecture.

Olafur Eliasson, “Your natural yellow daylight,” 2010
Beginning July 10, 2010

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (born in 1967) was invited to work specifically with the entry situation of the K20, a corridor with a dimly-lit light well and water basins. Through the application of monofrequency lighting and mist, Eliasson has developed a work for the K20 which illuminates this long-neglected space, singling it out a transitional zone between street and museum. A gentle mist – whose coloration oscillates between artificial street lighting and warm sunlight – becomes visible when visitors enter the museum on the ground floor, and becomes condensed before the large, exposed windows in the gallery in the second upper story. This project will remain in operation from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. During the nighttime hours (when the museum is closed as a rule), it will enjoy especially good visibility from the street.

Karin Sander – Museumsbesucher / Museum Visitor
3D body scans of living individuals, 3D inkjet print
July 10, 2010 – Jan 23, 2011

Launched to coincide with the museum’s reopening and set in the Labor, the new presentation space of the Department of Education, will be an exhibition series featuring contemporary artists who seek to come to terms with the museum context and with the role of the visitor. Exhibitions will choreograph the participatory interplay – even to the point of role reversal – between beholder, work, and artist. To kick off the series, Karin Sander transforms the Labor into a production site where the public itself become the focus of attention. Produced by means of 3-D imaging are full-scale plaster models of museum visitors. By selecting gesture, pose and accessories, visitors can shape these representations of their own figures. Using the body scans, which will be on display in the Labor, Sander not only renders the production process visible, but confronts visitors with their own images in the form of exhibited objects.

Michael Sailstorfer, Clouds, 2010
July 10 — August 8, 2010
K20 GRABBEPLATZ, lower level, Klee Halle

Young German artist Michael Sailstorfer (* 1979) has installed a remarkable large-scale installation in the new Klee Halle. Nearly 300 clouds float in space, simulating a monumental cloud cover. Serving as the point of departure for this work was a numberless mass of truck inner tubes, which were formed by the artists into an image of the sky according to an ingenious concept. This work — located somewhere between a Surrealist dream landscape and a monumental Minimalist sculpture — not only dominates the architecture of the new Klee Halle, but exhibition visitor as well. This work poses questions about our relationship to nature, at the same time alluding to its vastness.

Kris Martin - T.Y.F.F.S.H., 2009
July 10 to August 15, 2010
K20 GRABBEPLATZ, upper level, Klee Halle

T.Y.F.F.S.H. by Belgian artist Kris Martin (* 1972) transports us to a world of invention and discovery. The work consists of a hot air balloon which has been installed by the artist into the new Klee Halle in the upper level and continuously filled with cold air. The balloon— interpretable as a metaphor for progress and dreams of flight—occupies the gallery almost entirely, its powerful visual presence having the appearance of a monumental sculpture. As though imbued with magical qualities, it draws viewers in. The accessible interior offers the senses multilayered and fascinating experiences that are evocative of fantasies of flying.

Installation view at K21, Claudia Wieser, Belgische Innenräume, 2010, s/w-Kopien, Maße variabel, Courtesy Claudia Wieser, Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf © Claudia Wieser, 2010, Photo: Achim Kukulies

«Intensif-Station» – 26 Künstlerräume im K21 /
«Intensive Care» – 26 Artist’s Rooms in the K21

July 10, 2010 - September 4, 2011

Parallel to the reopening of the K20 at Grabbeplatz, the K21 Ständehaus opens the exhibition «Intensif-Station» – 26 Künstlerräume im K21 / «Intensive Care» – 26 Artist’s Rooms in the K21. Not unlike the simultaneous presentation of the permanent collection, entitled Silent Revolution, which confronts classical modernist works with contemporary positions, the focus of «Intensif-Station» too remains on works from the collection. In the 26 rooms of the Ständehaus, permanent installations and groups of works engage in dialogue with new site-specific rooms created on location by contemporary artists.

Rooms and installations represent a special focus of our collection, and one that has been expanded continuously over a period of years. Found in the permanent collection of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen are Nam June Paik’s TV-Garden, Imi Knoebel’s Ghent Room, Christian Boltanski’s El Caso, and Ilya Kabakov’s My Grandfather´s Shed, among others. The exhibition «Intensif-Station» presents a number of these artist’s rooms, with their various contrasting approaches, to the public in an unprecedented concentration while confronting familiar works from the collection with new and specially created projects.

A number of rooms have been developed in close collaboration with artists, and some works already in the collection have been supplemented, rearranged, and in some instances reconceived entirely. For her first presentation in Germany, Lucy Skaer creates a new site-specific installation, while Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller reinstall one of their large sound installations. Rafale Lozano-Hemmer, Monica Bonvicini, Katharina Fritsch, Nathalie Djurberg, Hans-Peter Feldmann, and others have made spatial works available and are installing them personally. The exhibition is named for Thomas Hirschhorn’s  «Intensif-Station» (Intensive Care), consisting of five large objects and taking as its theme the intensity of the experience of art.

It addition, eight artists (Ulla von Brandenburg, Jan Christensen, Santiago Cucullu, Zilla Leutenegger, Daniel Roth, Gabriel Vormstein, Claudia Wieser, Ralf Ziervogel) have drawn upon highly diverse media—ranging from drawing, painting, collage and projection—in order to respond to the architecture of the K21 Ständehaus by creating works for the arcades. Common to all is a weakness for narrative structures – an interest shared by the artists creating installations as well.

In choosing artists, a decisive factor has been the inclusion of approaches which incorporate viewers into works to a significant degree, initiating dialogue with them and even offering them extreme experiences.

«Intensif-Station» is a long-term project, and will be on view in this form for a period of one year. At specific intervals, individual rooms or sections will be reinstalled. Toward the middle of the exhibition period, for example, Christoph Büchel will be adding a new installation work. Such regular mutations will ensure that the K21 offers our visitors continually new perspectives, that our museum becomes a place of perpetual discovery.

Taking place throughout the year will be a multitude of events (workshops, readings, discussions) involving the participating artists.

Curator: Dr. Susanne Meyer-Büser
Assistant: Lisa Marei Schmidt

List of artists:

First upper level: Jan Christensen, Ulla von Brandenburg, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Imi Knoebel, Nam June Paik, Thomas Schütte

Second upper level: Armin Boehm, Monica Bonvicini, Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, Valérie Favre, Katharina Fritsch, Thomas Hirschhorn, Zilla Leutenegger, Reinhard Mucha, Juan Muñoz, Reynold Reynolds & Patrick Jolley, Daniel Roth, Lucy Skaer, Gregor Schneider, Gabriel Vormstein, Paloma Varga Weisz

Third upper level: Christian Boltanski, Janet Cardiff & Georg Bures Miller, Santiago Cucullu, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Ilya Kabakov, Mark Leckey, Kris Martin, Jeff Wall, Claudia Wieser, Ralf Ziervogel

Installation view at K21, Photo: Achim Kukulies

Monika Sosnowska: The Staircase / Die Treppe, 2010

April 24, 2010 until February 2013

With Monika Sosnowska’s project "The Staircase / Die Treppe, 2010", the imposing interior courtyard of the K21 Ständehaus is made available to an artistic intervention for the first time. The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen will be inviting internationally acclaimed artists to use the “airspace” above the piazza as the site of a contemporary intervention, each designed to heighten awareness of the museum as a “house of art” in the eyes of entering visitors.

Chosen for the first project in the series was Polish artist Monika Sosnowska, born in Ryki in 1972, whose artistic idiom is energized by an enthralling dialogue between art and architecture. As a rule, her works generate tension by suggesting the question: “Already architecture – or still sculpture?” – and vice versa.

This installation has been made possible by Provinzial Rheinland Versicherungen in the framework of the sponsorship series “Provinzial – Engagement im Rheinland für zeitgenössische Kunst” (Provinzial – A Commitment to Contemporary Art in the Rheinland). At the same time, it marks the conclusion of this five year collaboration with numerous museums throughout the Rheinland.

Curator: Stefanie Jansen



27 Feb 2010 – 18 July 2010

With five large-format slide projections, several photo series, and a song project for the Internet, K21 presents the first museum-based overview of the work of Belgian artist Ana Torfs (born 1963 and, lives and works in Brussels). Representation and visualisation, reality and fiction form the cornerstones of Ana Torfs’ installations which consist of projected images (usually black and white slides) and texts.

In precisely choreographed audiovisual constellations Torfs brings to life literary, historical and political material. In these projects the artist works with actors who embody their roles in a demonstratively matter-of-fact and functional way. Documents on Joan d’Arc, a famous one act play by the symbolist poet Maurice Maeterlinck but also testimonies from Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht’s murder trial serve as starting points for room-filling installations such as “Du mentir-faux” (About Lying Falsehood), 2000, “The Intruder”, 2004, or “Anatomy”, 2006.

Ana Torfs has been practising and developing her method of subtly dissecting and superimposing places, people, voices and atmospheres for over fifteen years. In doing so, she draws from the repertoire of dramatic, photographic and cinematic techniques. Apart from a selection of earlier works, the recently completed slide installation “Displacement” (2009) will be shown for the first time at K21. In Ana Torfs’ work the spoken words and the static pictures blend in order to create an imaginary realm beyond cinema. Personal experiences and global dimensions merge with one another. This also comes across in the new photographic series “Family Plot”. Portraits of Carl Linnaeus and other representatives of early scientific botany refer to the practice of naming of exotic plant families in which foreign species were appropriated in an imperialistic way. The spatial transfer of places and stories is a basic aspect of Ana Torfs’ artistic approach. Consequently, the settings in which her works are shown and experienced by her audience are of great importance. Ana Torfs cooperated with the Belgian architect Kris Kimpe in order to design a special kind of architecture for the presentation of her works at K21.

Installation view "Silent Revolution" (2010) at K21 with works by Katharina Fritsch and Thomas Schütte, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Photo: Achim Kukulies

"Silent Revolution"

A new presentation of the museum’s permanent collection

27 February 2010 – 13 June 2010

The foundation of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is an art collection of the highest conceivable quality. Preceding the reinstallation of the collection in July 2010 in an area measuring more than 10,000 m² is a singular presentation in the Ständehaus of K21, one that juxtaposes key works of classical modernism with central positions of contemporary art. The galleries accommodate a series of highly divergent works, and the results range from the lively dialogue, to the “quarrelsome duet”, to the intimate conversation, but also include small talk, while some encounters may lead to subsequent rendezvous.Since the presentation at Grabbeplatz has always consisted mainly of paintings, and the one at the Ständehaus primarily of installation, sculptural, photographic, and video works, this exchange also takes place between two and three dimensions.

The outcome is a contest between media: what can painting offer, with its dense surface arrangement, and what is offered by film, which unfolds in temporal succession?The arrival of the panel paintings, moreover, calls for an altered approach to the architecture of the Ständehaus. For this presentation of the collection, the building’s arcades will be occupied by “immaterial” art forms: with sound installations that conceptualize the phenomenon of time in various ways. Silent Revolution, the title of this presentation, was borrowed from a work by Georg Herold, one that engages in dialogue with paintings by Jasper Johns and Georges Braque.

The classical modernism foundation of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is featured in the 1st level of Silent Revolution in a series of striking, dialogic juxtapositions. Belgian artists Marcel Broodthaers and René Magritte joined forces with contrasting interrogations of the museum and of truth; Jeff Wall and Wassily Kandinsky visualize the antagonism between chaos and order; Max Beckmann and William Kentridge draw up résumés of their lives; Paul Klee and Nam June Paik are preoccupied with the universal languages of art and music.

In the second upper story of the Ständehaus, key works of Cubism, Neue Sachlichkeit, and Surrealism provoke commentary in the form of contemporary sculptures by Thomas Schütte, Katharina Fritsch, Paloma Varga Weisz, and others. One such juxtaposition is that between Beckmann’s brutally dispassionate depiction of murder in “Die Nacht” (The Night) and Thomas Hirschhorn’s model of a two-family house, which exemplifies the kind of involuntary proximity of contrary attitudes.

In the 3rd upper story are works by Piet Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp, Otto Dix, Kurt Schwitters, Gerhard Richter, and Francis Bacon. Here, our circuit finds its preliminary terminus in a room containing black pictures – before the dialogic principle continues in the light-flooded dome space. More than 30 three-dimensional works have been assembled to form a densely configured sculpture garden – installed with assistance from Düsseldorf artist Markus Karstieß – where viewers are invited to stroll and linger. Pablo Picasso’s bronze head of “Fernande” encounters John Chamberlain’s painted sculpture, while works in plaster by Max Ernst mingle with recent artistic positions, including loans designed to complement the collection in striking ways.