Double Lives

Visual Artists Making Music

23 June to 18 October 2020

Double Lives focuses on artists working both in the visual arts and in music — artists who write, perform, or produce music, or participate in band projects. Since early modernism this phenomenon has gained in significance, and particularly in  the current situation a strikingly large number of visual artists is also active in music. This exhibition looks at these developments throughout the twentieth century up to the present day.

As the divisions between the different artistic genres became more porous in modernism, artists had fewer reservations about leaving their own established terrain, selecting from a broad spectrum of different artistic media to suit the respective intentions of each specific work. Turning to music has a logic insofar, as the visual arts themselves have more and more taken on various features intrinsic to music. These include performative approaches and various forms of collaboration or collective authorship.

The visual arts also seek more direct contact with audiences and increasingly come to see the production of art and its reception as forms of collective experience and social communication.A decision to make music often means more than just shifting to a different medium. Public performances of music or the production of recordings may often involve different conditions of working, different locations, and also different audiences. Hence the exhibition title Double Lives, which is taken from a book by Jörg Heiser. —. The ways that artists combine the two fields of music and visual art, or keep them separate, can be very diverse. In some cases their work in both areas is public knowledge, while others have different fan communities in each field — a broad spectrum with many variations.

This presentation also highlights the impulses fine artists provided to the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. At the end of the nineteenth century, music began to explore new forms of expression by expanding the tonal spectrum and breaking away from traditional rules and conventions on tonality, harmony, and rhythm. As outsiders and often even amateurs in this field, visual artists were freer from tradition and rules, and thus their approaches could often be bolder and more radical. This involved composing along principles of chance or developing noise music. Visual artists also began early to apply principles of later minimal and drone music, and their very deliberate disregard of the rules in traditional genres like jazz and rock made them pioneers of the bad strategies in punk and the dilettante music of artists bands since the late 1970ties. The work of visual artists still plays a considerable role in the diverse and divergent spectrum of contemporary music-making.

Disinfected headphones can be borrowed free of charge at the entrance to the exhibition. You can also use your own headphones with the usual 3.5 mm headphone jack.

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Admission tickets

Would you like to go directly into the exhibition without stopping at the cash register?
Buy Print@home time slot tickets (incl. VRS) online!

€9.80/ €6.40 (concessions)

Free admission for everyone up to and including the age of 18.
Happy-Hour-Ticket: 7 € (available two hours before the museum closes; individual visitors only, all exhibitions.) Combined ticket for all exhibitions available. More information

Due to changes in the COVID infection rate, there is always the risk of the exhibition being canceled on short notice.


Unfortunately, for legal reasons, photography and filming are not permitted in this exhibition. We kindly ask you to respect this.

Show bibliography

Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Museumsmeile Bonn
Helmut-Kohl-Allee 4
53113 Bonn
T +49 228 9171–200

Opening hours

Mondays closed
Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Thursdays–Sundays, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
(including public holidays even those which fall on Mondays)