Exhibition poster

Agnes Martin

November 07, 2015 – March 06, 2016

This retrospective of the artistic achievement of the American painter Agnes Martin (1912 – 2004) is the first to be held after her death, and represents an opportunity to rediscover her extraordinary work in all of its facets. Martin’s artistic career is outlined by means of paintings, drawings, and prints, all the way from the early pictures, to the experimental works and assemblages produced in New York in the 1950s, and to the consummate late works. With its commitment to abstraction, her soft-spoken oeuvre evolved in the milieu of Abstract Expressionism and minimalist tendencies. Beginning in the 1960s, Martin’s artistic vocabulary concentrated on horizontal and vertical lines that structure the picture surface in grid fashion or subdivide it into stripes. Playing an essential role on her matt, almost exclusively square canvases and sheets of paper is the interplay of penciled lines and a reduced palette of delicate gray and chromatic tones. On the basis of this concentration and reduction, Martin developed a pictorial universe of overwhelming richness, one that offers mesmerizing visual experiences to the patient eye.

Early on in her artistic career, Martin won the recognition into New York’s male-dominated art scene. It is primarily the artists of Martin’s own and subsequent generations who have been durably impressed by this artist – who spent most of her life in the solitude of New Mexico. That her works remains relatively unfamiliar is largely because they are rarely encountered in galleries and museum collections. In 2011, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen was able to acquire a painting, which has since then been presented in the so-called »American Gallery« (Robert Rademacher Galerie) in the company of her contemporaries Jackson Pollock, Ellsworth Kelly, Franz Kline, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko.

With this retrospective, the Tate Modern, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York honor this remarkable painter, whose role and importance for the art of the 20th century has yet to be adequately appreciated, and will hopefully now be reappraised.

The exhibition includes 70 paintings, approximately 35 drawings, as well as the print cycle On a Clear Day.

Curator at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen: Dr. Maria Müller-Schareck

Exhibition organised by Tate Modern in collaboration with Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

The exhibition is supported by the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Corporate partner: the Breuninger Fashion and Lifestyle Company
Media partner: Handelsblatt
Sponsored by the Ministry for Families, Children, Youth, Culture, and Sports of the
Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Exhibition poster


September, 26, 2015 – January, 24, 2016

The exhibition documents the ways in which the Christian image tradition has continued to evolve in secular contexts as a universal cultural heritage - and independently of specifically religious references. A striking number of works resist simple readings. Instead, they deploy complex narratives and images in an attempt to come to terms in subtle ways with Christian motifs, themes, or issues. The presentation, then, is not devoted to sacred art, nor to religiosity in general. The focus is on works that to be sure reference Christian symbols or thematic fields, but at the same time reflect upon and transform them critically while transferring them to new contexts, both in terms of content and visual aesthetics.

The thematic range is broad, and extends from fundamental existential questions and the philosophical and spiritual challenges associated with them to a humorous or critical preoccupation with individual aspects of religion and faith, from confrontations with art-historical traditions all the way to present-day sociopolitical topics.

The selection focuses on the art of the past 25 years and encompasses paintings, works on paper, glass works, sculpture, photography, video, and film, as well as complex, spatial installations - some created especially for this exhibition. A selection of works exemplifies pivotal positions in the history of art between 1950 and 1980. In exemplary ways, these allow us to reconstruct the often subtle penetration of Christian emblems and symbols systems and to situate them within a collective image memory.

The immediate impetus for this project - a response by the Regional Gallery of North Rhine-Westphalia to an invitation from the German Bishops' Conference - is the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, which resolved after many years of consultation upon an opening toward society on the part of the Church, and hence also toward art.

Including works by the following artists

Georges Adéagbo, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Francis Alÿs, Francis Bacon, Michaël Borremans, Pavel Büchler, Andrea Büttner, Flavio de Carvalho, Paul Chan, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Tacita Dean, Andrew Esiebo, Harun Farocki, Katharina Fritsch, Douglas Gordon, Gary Hill, Emma Kay, Hubert Kiecol, Katarzyna Kozyra, Little Warsaw, Thomas Locher, Kris Martin, Aernout Mik, Boris Mikhailov, Santu Mofokeng, Hermann Nitsch, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Rosemberg Sandoval, James Turrell, Bill Viola, Paloma Varga Weisz, Danh Võ and Aby Warburg.

Curator: Isabelle Malz

This exhibition is part of the program: Freude Trauer Angst Hoffnung (Joy Sorrow Fear Hope), an art project of the Catholic Church for 2015.

Sponsored by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, Halle/Berlin, and the Verein Ausstellungshaus für christliche Kunst e.V., Munich

Corporate partner: the Breuninger Fashion and Lifestyle Enterprise
Media partner: Handelsblatt
Sponsored by the Ministry for Families, Children, Youth, Culture, and Sports of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Exhibition poster

Miró. Painting as Poetry

13 June - 27 September, 2015

Famous for his enigmatic symbols, dancing celestial bodies, and playful figures, Joan Miró (1893—1983) is among the most inventive and beloved artists of the 20th century. Under the surface, Miró’s seemingly lightheartedness image world conceals intensive reflections on painting and its possibilities.

To date, little is known about Miró’s lifelong interest in literature and poetry or his friendships with major authors of this time. For the first time ever, the exhibition, organized in collaboration with the Bucerius Kunst Forum in Hamburg, illuminates Miró’s relationship to poetry in a comprehensive way. The presentation deals with the relationship between word and image and the uses of text in classical modernism. Approximately 110 paintings, drawings, and artist’s books from all creative periods are supplemented by numerous objects from Miró’s private library, which has been reconstructed as a reading room. Renowned public and private collections in Europe and the United States are supporting this exhibition with generous loans.

Miró was a passionate reader whose favorites ranged from the classics of world literature to the late-19th century Symbolist poets and the contemporary avantgarde. Even during his early years as a young painter in his hometown of Barcelona, reading fueled his sense of fantasy. In his pictures, he often quoted specific titles (i.e. of books by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or Jean Cocteau), and he once integrated the title page of the magazine Nord-Sud, launched in 1917 by Pierre Reverdy and Guillaume Apollinaire, into a painting of the same name.

With his move to Paris in the early 1920s, the 27-yearold Miró gained admission to the literary circle that was influenced by Dada. The group’s poets strove to liberate language from the constraints of syntax, sound, and meaning, and attacked rationalism as a form of provocation. A number of the most important literary figures of the 20th century, including Tristan  Tzara, Paul Éluard, Max Jacob, Robert Desnos, and André Breton, became Miró’s friends. Exchanges of ideas with poets  influenced Miró even more than contacts with his Parisian artist colleagues. From their ideas, he drew inspiration for his approach to painting, which led toward an artistic breakthrough in 1923. Depictions of reality yielded now to the fantastical. Beginning in the mid-1920s, in a series of picture poems, image and word merged to shape multifaceted associations. Miró saw himself as a "painter poet" who made no distinction between the two art forms. Although he felt connected to Surrealism, he consistently maintained his artistic independence.

Miró’s reception of literature was by no means one-sided. Just as he was inspired by literature, his pictures supplied writers with creative impulses. Ernest Hemingway was among Miró’s first admirers and collectors. In the magazine Documents in 1929, Michel Leiris published a text on Miró’s paintings, which he related to philosophical reflections on emptiness. Poet friends supplied titles for Miró’s works. Collaborative projects with writers resulted in more than 250 elaborately designed artist’s books in which text and image coexist on equal terms. Through direct exchanges with poets and publishers, Miró produced many of the most beautiful artist’s books of the 20th century.

During the second half of his life, Miró’s motifs evolved increasingly toward symbolic and script-based forms. These hieroglyphic figures, however, are never interpretable with precision, and precisely this allows them to develop a universal potential. At the same time, many of Miró’s works give critical expression to his opposition to European fascism – in particular Francisco Franco’s regime in Spain. As a staunch Catalonian, he championed the preservation of his culture, and expressed solidarity with the student movement in 1968. On Mallorca, where he settled in 1956, Miró produced late works characterized by impulsiveness and aggression. Cipher-like letters and numerals resemble slogans on the banners of demonstrators; grotesque figures raise their arms in protest. Influenced by his travels to Japan and contacts with the Abstract Expressionists in the US, Miró integrated both passionate gestures and calligraphy into his paintings, as well as a concentration on the essential that was inspired by Zen.

The exhibition Miró. Painting as Poetry offers a fresh look at Joan Miró’s oeuvre. The multifaceted influence of poetry provides unexpected insights into the artistic achievements of the best-known Spanish modern artist next to Picasso.

This exhibition was organized in collaboration with the Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg.

Supported by Prof. Otto Beisheim Stiftung
Exhibition's sponsor: Schwarzkopf
General partner: das Fashion- und Lifestyle-Unternehmen Breuninger
Media partner: Handelsblatt

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

Installation view of the presentation
Photo: Achim Kukulies

Imi Knoebel –
Honoring Malevich

May 09 – August 30, 2015
K21 STÄNDEHAUS / Bel Etage

Imi Knoebel (born in 1940) is one of the most important contemporary abstract artists internationally.

Since the 1960s, this Düsseldorf-based artist has contin-uously developed his emphatically minimalist oeuvre. Beginning in 1964, when he was a student of Joseph Beuys, his analytical work series have reflected a growing concern with the interplay of color and form. This was foundational for his meanwhile long-term preoccupation with the works of the Russian Suprematist Kazimir Malevich. In particular Malevich’s celebrated Black Square – first exhibited in 1915 and regarded as the embodiment of a zero state of painting – has proven a productive point of departure for Knoebel’s own ap-proaches.

In the 1960s, after a series of line paintings and projected light images, Knoebel began producing purist black-and-white works and created his celebrated Room 19. The first series of abstract multicolored works date from the 1970s.

On view in the Bel Etage of the K21 will be Knoebel’s new wall and three-­dimensional pieces alongside Suprematist works by Malevich.

Sponsored by Fashion- und Lifestyle- Unternehmen Breuninger
Media partner: Handelsblatt

Exhibition poster


February 07 — May 10, 2015

In this exhibition, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen explores various facets of Günther Uecker's wide-ranging oeuvre from a contemporary perspective. This native of Mecklenburg (* 1930 in Wendorf) has been an artistic protagonist of the cultural upheavals of a formerly divided postwar Germany, as well as their eyewitness and observer.

The presentation illuminates the complex artistic stance of this extraordinary creative personality. A concentrated selection drawn from various work series seeks to render the sheer abundance of his achievement more approachable. It also makes possible deeper insights into Uecker's dynamism, his transformation of language into imagery, his global orientation, and his inexhaustible energy.

On display in the Grabbe Halle will be pivotal work complexes such as the Terrororchester (Terror Orchestra), the Brief an Peking (Letter to Beijing), the Verletzungsworte (Wounding Words), and a Sandmühle (Sand Mill)  as well as texted images. In the Klee Hall, visitors will encounter the nail reliefs from many different decades, which constitute a biography in images, snap-shots of differing artistic and physical states. Depending upon point of view and lighting, the nail pictures develop a sensitive, poetic force and begin to breathe. Documented as well are the sculptor, the action artist, the filmmaker, the political personality, the active poet - an artist who is strongly connected to Düsseldorf as his elective hometown but is first and foremost present internationally.

"Where language fails, the image begins." Uecker's statement resonates through decades of his creative production. With consistently recurring motifs such as the spiral and the series, with materials such as stone, sand, earth, and ash, Uecker successfully uses using minimalist elements to implant a universally readable language in the minds of beholders. Here is an artist that seeks dialogue - and succeeds with viewers from around the world.

Curators: Marion Ackermann, Stefanie Jansen

This exhibition is made possible by NATIONAL-BANK AG, Kulturstiftung der Länder, Messe Düsseldorf GmbH and Stadtwerke Düsseldorf AG. Sponsored by Fashion- und Lifestyle- Unternehmen Breuninger, media partner: Handelsblatt, funded by Ministerium für Familie, Kinder, Jugend, Kultur und Sport des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen

Uecker Zeitung