In the Kaleidoscope of Modernism

1 April – 30 July 2023

The 1920s are generally considered a decade of upheaval and experimentation in the modern western world. Even now, the feverish radicality of this period continues to lend it a remarkable timeliness and pertinence to our present. Like a kaleidoscope, our exhibition brings together the myriad different images and voices to create new constellations, sharpening the viewer’s gaze to focus not only on the singularity of the individual events but also on potential analogies to the present day. Riven by deep inner conflict, the decade of the 1920s was also driven by a firm faith in progress and an unprecedented surge of innovation in all areas of life. Far-reaching artist networks, social upheavals, political divisions, mass communication and mobility contributed to the formation of urban, multicultural avant-gardes. It was a period of contrasts and conflicts.

Our exhibition is organised around three thematic complexes: the phenomenon of the metropolis as a biotope and caricature of the modern world; the debate about the New Man and the New Woman; and the construction and perception of the new ways of life. The focus is on the defining phenomena of this era: globalisation, speed, the love of experimentation, the interrogation of gender roles, urban lifestyles, mechanisation.

In the kaleidoscope of Modernism, we recognise differences and astonishing parallels between today and the events of the 1920s.


30 April – 15 October 2023

With Interactions, we invite you to play with numerous artistic offers in the exterior and public interior of the Bundeskunsthalle over the summer. New works of art complement existing ones: the water pavilion Circular Appearing Rooms by Jeppe Hein presented on the museum square, the Bonn Slide by Carsten Höller that winds around its own axis down the façade, and The Curve by Bettina Pousttchi on the roof, which is dedicated to movement. On the south lawn, as well as in the inner courtyard, the foyer, the staircase, and the media art space, selected works of art will invite visitors to play, but will also deal with visual languages, sound and movement as universal forms of communication. For the first time, the LED wall on the façade will also be part of the art programme.

For the exhibition, Nevin Aladağ’s Verflechtungen (Interweavings) covers the roof – an installation of carpets, basketball hoops, and balls that invites play and communication. Benches with handwritten messages by Finnegan Shannon, Do you want us here or not, invite visitors to pause for a moment and offer a place for reflection. Jan St. Werner’s two sound stations Excitatory Yards allow the architecture of the Bundeskunsthalle to be perceived in a new way. And ping-pong tables by Rirkrit Tiravanija, the football goal walls Camouflage/Torwand 1-3 [Croy, Kleff, Maier] by Olaf Nicolai on the south lawn, an Animaloculomat by Klara Hobza in the foyer, and other works demonstrate that art can be an open offer, serving both individual and shared experience – a togetherness in which rigid roles and behaviours are challenged, and openness, tolerance and sensitivity are promoted. All participating artists are interested in forms of expression and techniques that can reduce the possible distance to art, but also within a complex and diverse society.

On 30 April and 1 May, the exhibition will kick off with spectacular opening days with performances by Franka Marlene Foth, Helga Wretman, and Nevin Aladağ, opportunities for play and participation, as well as a ‘Dance into May’.

Nevin Aladağ, Franka Marlene Foth, Ryan Gander, Jeppe Hein, Klara Hobza, Carsten Höller, Olaf Nicolai, Bettina Pousttchi, John Provencher, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Finnegan Shannon, Jan St. Werner

Josephine Baker
Freedom – Equality – Humanity

18 May – 24 September 2023

Josephine Baker is an icon.

She was a superstar, fought for freedom and against racism. Singing and dancing, she captivated audiences around the world and used the stage to promote her message that peace, liberty and equality are a universal human right, regardless of skin colour, religion, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1906, Josephine Baker experienced segregation and racial violence as a child. In 1925, her show talent took her from the USA to liberal Paris, then the creative epicentre of Europe. There she became a star, the highest-paid revue dancer and the first female superstar with African American roots.

Our exhibition sheds light on the foundations of Josephine Baker’s success and how she transformed the ostensible stigma of her skin colour into strength by using her fame to liberate others: As a member of the Resistance during World War II, as a mother of twelve adopted children of diverse backgrounds, as an ambassador for humanity and a committed pioneer of the civil rights movement in America.

For her lifetime achievements, Josephine Baker became the sixth and the first non-white woman to be inducted into the French Hall of Fame, the Panthéon in Paris, on November 30, 2021, and is officially considered a national heroine ever since.

Who we are
Reflecting a Country of Immigration

26 May to 8 October 2023

What is it that gives rise to the sense of ‘we’ in a society? Is it only possible to achieve it by setting oneself apart from ‘the others’? Is it possible to arrive at a shared and comprehensive sense of ‘we’ in our society? The exhibition Who We Are puts critical questions to Germany as a country of immigration, a term that politicians have long resisted and one that should now seem self-evident. Migration is nothing out of the ordinary, on the contrary, it is the normal state of affairs. Experiences of racism and discrimination, however, are still the order of the day for people who are denied membership of the ‘we’. Their paths through life are marked by resistance, but also by success.

The exhibition looks at the structures of our society: Who is allowed to join the conversation and have a say? Who is visible in politics and the media? Who We Are takes a look at the struggle for equal coexistence – the achievements along the way as well as the problems and hurdles that still litter the path. The exhibition shows works by contemporary artists and combines them with personal testimonies and documents relating to migration and history.

An exhibition of the Bundeskunsthalle and DOMiD (Documentation Center and Museum of Migration in Germany).

Everything at Once: Postmodernity, 1967-1992

29 September 2023 – 28 January 2024

The year 1967 marked the beginning of our present: Modernism, which had presumed that everything could be sorted out through equal housing, furniture and rights for all, was abandoned, and from its ruins a bizarre, eccentric world was born. Architects declared the amusement park the new ideal city; designers shook off the yoke of good taste, and the conflict between the two dominant political systems gave way to the struggle for self-realisation. New media synchronised the globe, and images became the arena in which contests for style and recognition were waged. Showcasing spectacular examples of design, architecture, cinema, pop, philosophy, art and literature, the exhibition chronicles the dawn of the information society, the unleashing of the financial markets, the great age of subcultures, disco, punk and techno-pop, shoulder pads and Memphis furniture. It also chronicles the sudden surge in the construction of museums, the new temples of art and culture, to which we owe the largest exhibit, the Bundeskunsthalle itself. When the Bundeskunsthalle opened in 1992, the Cold War was over, and Francis Fukuyama published his famous  book, in which he proclaimed ‘the end of history’ as such. Thirty years later, it is clear that history did not come to an end, and Postmodernism is once again a matter of considerable debate.

Holding up a mirror to the present, the exhibition homes in on our current conflicts – from right-wing populism to identity politics. It allows us to ask, from the distance of a generation, what time we are actually living in. Is Postmodernity really over – or are we in the middle of it?

Federal Prize for Art Students

26th National Competition of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
27 October 2023 – 7 January 2024

Every two years, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research holds the competition Federal Prize for Art Students. The competition is open to students enrolled at the 24 art academies in Germany. Every academy nominates two of their most promising students. The Federal Prize is considered one of the most important awards for young artists in Germany. The art academies have already nominated their candidates for the competition. In January 2023, the jury, consisting of three independent experts, will go through the submitted portfolios and select up to eight prize winners whose works will be exhibited. Fatima Hellberg, Director of the Bonner Kunstverein, Anna Nowak, Curator, Kunsthaus Hamburg, and Christiane Mennicke-Schwarz, Artistic Director, Kunsthaus Dresden, have agreed to serve on the jury for the 26th Federal Prize for Art Students.

The Bundeskunsthalle has been presenting the competition since 1994. The exhibition offers a great opportunity to explore the work of the up-and-coming generation of young artists in Germany.

Organised in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German National Association for Student Affairs

Immanuel Kant
and the Enlightenment

24 November 2023 – 10 March 2024

The 22nd of April 2024 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of the philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). To this day, Kant’s ground-breaking contribution to the Enlightenment, his thoughts on ethics, emancipation, epistemology and international law have lost none of their significance as points of reference. The exhibition sets out to introduce his work to a general audience, and especially to young visitors, who do not necessarily have any solid grounding in philosophy.

The four famous Kantian questions: ‘What can I know?’, ‘What ought I to do?’, ‘What can I hope for?’, ‘What is man?’ will structure the exhibition. High-quality paintings, graphics, scientific instruments, maps and manuscripts will visualise the central themes of the Enlightenment. At the same time, the historical person Immanuel Kant, his environment and his networks will come into focus. Kant’s biography was closely linked to the urban environment of Königsberg (today’s Kaliningrad, Russia), where he lived for 73 years. As the intellectual centre of its time, the Prussian royal seat left its mark on the whole of Germany and Europe. This is why we are bringing the baroque city of Königsberg, which was completely destroyed in 1944/45, back to life in a virtual reconstruction. VR stations allow visitors to take an imaginary journey into the world of Immanuel Kant.

An exhibition in cooperation with the Ostpreußisches Landesmuseum, Lüneburg.

The cooperation with the Digital Kant Centre NRW and the University of Bonn forms a thematic bridge to the major international Kant Congress, which will be hosted by the University of Bonn and the Kant Society in September 2024.

Anna Oppermann

8 December 2023 – 7 April 2024

Anna Oppermann (1940–1993) is the author of a large body of work that awaits rediscovery. The Bundeskunsthalle is organising the first comprehensive retrospective of the rich and complex oeuvre by the German conceptual artist. Interest in Oppermann’s work has grown in recent years, and the exhibition will incorporate the latest insights.

A key exponent of German conceptual art from the 1960s onwards, Oppermann maintained a fruitful exchange with artists of her time. As a result of her participation in numerous important exhibitions, among them documenta 6 and 8 in Kassel, she became internationally known at an early stage. The term ‘ensemble,’ which she coined in the early 1970s for her process-based arrangements, encompasses both the installed work and the underlying method of its construction. Composed of notes, drawings, photographs, printed matter and found objects, these ensembles demonstrate the artist’s radical conceptualisation of what constitutes a work: they are open and dialogical in equal measure, and the process is an integral part of the finished work. Alongside the sculptural elements, language is an essential component of the ensembles.

Expansive, complex ensembles, proliferating rhizome-like constellations as well as smaller assemblages invite visitors to immerse themselves in Anna Oppermann’s questing creative practice.

The exhibition is organised in cooperation with the Estate of Anna Oppermann.