press release

bauhaus | documenta. Vision and Brand May 24–September 8, 2019

Opening: May 23, 6:30pm, Neue Galerie, Kassel

The exhibition bauhaus |​ documenta. Vision and Brand reflects upon the two institutions Bauhaus and documenta for the first time in comparison. The 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus in 2019 offers an opportunity to view the development of the two institutions, both of which have become cultural brands, and simultaneously to critically examine them. To what extent have the brands remained true to themselves in terms of their commitment to innovation and progress? To what extent have they been appropriated to serve certain interests? Thus, the exhibition also offers a view of the role and function that art and culture can have in society today.

Both Bauhaus, founded 100 years ago in Weimar, and documenta, mounted for the first time in 1955 in Kassel, stand today for a tradition of modernism and avant-garde in Germany, for visionary cultural brands with an international standing and the belief in artistic innovation and art’s ability to reform society. They both developed their own idealist values and have achieved almost popular international renown.

On the basis of installations, documentary objects, statistical material, and original artworks the exhibition creates a course through seven thematic rooms, from the genesis and first visions of the two cultural institutions up to today’s reception. The artists displayed include Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, Bazon Brock, Hans Haacke, Wassily Kandinsky, Barbara Klemm, Aleksandr Ptuschko and Gilles Raynaldy.

Divided into seven thematic sections, the exhibition investigates mediation strategies and media reception, power and influences, ideals, values and usability: What motivates people, institutions, and entire cities to engage with art and culture? What kinds of mediation are there? Who makes the important decisions regarding choice, representation and effect? And who are the target groups: who is reached? And who isn’t? Philipp Oswalt, one of the two curators of the exhibition emphasizes: "Viewing Bauhaus and documenta in comparison provides completely new insights into the two culture brands. At the same time, it critically interrogates the promise that art has an emancipatory effect on society."

Curated by Philipp Oswalt and Daniel Tyradellis the exhibition is flanked by a virtual exhibition devoted to the topic of How much Bauhaus is in documenta? Seeking traces, as well as a book encompassing all parts of the project published by Spector Books, entitled bauhaus | documenta. Vison and Brand and a symposium titled Never been modern? Bauhaus and documenta in true affinity.

The virtual exhibition: How much Bauhaus is in documenta? Seeking traces

The virtual exhibition explores how Bauhaus concepts have inscribed themselves in documenta, in terms of the choice of artists and design. For example, Bauhaus influenced documenta founder Arnold Bode and his most important collaborators, including Bauhaus student Fritz Winter. 300 works by 17 Bauhaus members were shown at the first three documenta exhibitions, and the visual appearance of documenta has parallels with Bauhaus graphics. The virtual exhibition documents these links and puts them up for discussion in a vivid way.

Launch: August 15, 6:30pm, Fridericianum, Kassel

The publication: bauhaus | documenta. Vision and Brand

The publication (editors: Birgit Jooss, Philipp Oswalt and Daniel Tyradellis) combines the thematic focuses of the show with art-historical perspectives of the virtual exhibition. The richly illustrated publication contains essays by Gerda Breuer, Kathryn W. Floyd, Walter Grasskamp, Annette Tietenberg, Fred Turner, Wolfgang Ullrich and many more, as well as excerpts from historical sources. The publication deals with the origins of the two culture brands, their identities, forms of transfer, as well as the visions of the brands today. Published by Spector Books, Leipzig.

The German edition will be published in May 2019 (ISBN 978-3-95905-299-3), the English edition in Autumn 2019 (ISBN 978-3-95905-300-6).

The symposium: Never been modern? Bauhaus and documenta in true affinity June 14–15, 2019, Kunsthochschule Kassel

The public symposium, conceived by Heinz Bude, deals with implicit narratives of modernity of Bauhaus and of documenta exhibitions. The original constellations in Weimar and Kassel are discussed as well as metamorphoses documenta has undergone in transit through New Delhi, St. Lucia, and Lagos (all documenta 11), Kabul (documenta 13) and Athens (documenta 14). Where do the two intertwined narratives come from? What developments, struggles, and dynamics have they experienced? With which others have they affiliated themselves? And what threads have been woven out of this?

A project by the documenta archiv and the University of Kassel in cooperation with the Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel.
With the generous support of the Hessen State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts, and the The Cultural Foundation of Hesse.