With the exhibition “Cloud & Crystal”. The Dorothee and Konrad Fischer Collection, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen celebrates the acquisition of the art collection formerly owned by the celebrated Düsseldorf gallerist couple Dorothee and Konrad Fischer. These works of Conceptual Art and Minimalism represent a decisive complement to the collection of US postwar paintings already owned by the Kunstsammlung.
In 1967, Konrad Fischer – who had initially been active as an artist – opened a gallery in Düsseldorf‘s historic center together with his wife Dorothee. He was one of the first European art dealers to take a consistent interest in the latest art of his own time. Regarded with justice as a pioneer of Conceptual Art, he converted his exhibition space into a meeting point for artists and collectors from around the world, catapulting Düsseldorf to the forefront of the contemporary avant-garde scene.
The Dorothee and Konrad Fischer Collection testifies to the manifold activities of these gallerists up to the present. Many of the works in the ensemble were produced as a result of friendly relations with the contributing artists. In this exhibition (and, in the future, in the permanent collection of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen), the paintings of artists like Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg – which primarily target the senses and emotions – will be shown together with conspicuously "aloof" works of Conceptual Art. Through this juxtaposition, it becomes clear that a radical upheaval in the forms of creative expression occurred in tandem with the societal transformations around 1968. Emerging alongside innovative approaches to painting was an art that opposed the conceptual aspect, the idea – now regarded as a valid work of art in and of itself, and without being materialized in an object – to the subjectivity of painterly gesture.
Carl Andre, Daniel Buren, Dan Flavin, On Kawara, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, and many others represented in the Fischer Collection renounced personal artistic handwriting and worked with drawings, texts, photographs, documents, and industrially manufactured materials. Works by Hanne Darboven, Jan Dibbets, Gilbert & George, and Lawrence Weiner demonstrates that a work may consist exclusively of ideas and concepts. Lothar Baumgarten, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and Italian Arte Povera artists such as Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, and Giuseppe Penone have made extraordinary contributions to the art of our time. In the present, Gregor Schneider, Thomas Schütte or Paloma Varga Weisz, continue to develop installation art.