Rethinking and Re-envisioning the Collection

In the Course of Time

Feb 8, 2022 – Winter 2022


  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Various Titles (N* Dance, Circus Scene, Variété, Travelling Circus, Dancing Couple) c. 1911, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, photo: Walter Klein, Düsseldorf
  • Emil Nolde, Women and Pierrot, 1917, © Nolde Stiftung Seebüll Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf photo: Walter Klein, Düsseldorf

Chapter II
In the Course of Time
Dealing with Colonial Thought and Tradition

In view of the transformations in our globalized world, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is expanding the presentation of its own collection and reflecting on the role of the museum. With the goal of opening up the art-historical canon to new perspectives, a specifically designated room in the K20 collection will be used to raise contemporary questions about works of classical modernism and historically position the emergence of individual works. In this context, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen addresses the interactions between art and politics, liberation and appropriation, fascination and racism, Expressionism and colonialism.

The first intervention was devoted to the history of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen and its founding director Werner Schmalenbach.

By way of example, the second chapter in the series deals with two paintings in the collection — Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Emil Nolde, respectively. What do we know about the paintings? How do we engage with artworks, in which quondam colonial modes are perpetuated? The presentation examines how the museum has dealt with discriminatory subjects and titles since its foundation in 1961. At the same time, it strives to illuminate how the artistic innovations of Expressionism are linked to the actual experiences of these two artists and to their social, cultural, and political surroundings at the beginning of the 20th century.

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Installation views

  • photo: Linda Inconi
  • photo: Linda Inconi
  • photo: Linda Inconi
  • photo: Linda Inconi
  • photo: Linda Inconi
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