Past exhibitions

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Art, Awkwardness and Enthusiasm

11 November 2022 to 10 April 2023

"Beg to report sir, I am an idiot" is how George Grosz, the great painter and caricaturist of the Weimar Republic, subtitled his caricature of a soldier, in which he criticized the uniform conceit of his time with biting humour.
Very serious, but also decidedly ridicules, the entire exhibition illuminates the enthusiastic awkwardness in modern and contemporary art, which does not shy away from the embarrassing, the unreasonably silly. The enjoyable tour includes works by about 100 artists from all over the world, spanning from earlier centuries of art-making to the immediate present.
In modernism since the 19th century, and especially in the classical avant-garde of the early 20th century, a very specific direction can be identified: on the one hand, bold innovations, radical negation, and startling aesthetic principles - but on the other hand, a certain kind of laughter that formed the basis for this exhibition project. It is a laughter that is fun and at the same time undermines all conservatism, morality and avant-garde beliefs. This laughter shows how authority falters, how the pompous gesture and the image of the hero run out of steam.

Ridiculously Yours! flirts with the humour of catastrophe, bad taste, the camp approach, B-movie culture, science fiction and horror, but also with immaturity, idiocy, intuition and, of course, passion - not to mention enthusiasm.
An inspiring amusement park of enthusiastic awkwardness with works by numerous important artists: from Pieter Bruegel the Elder to Alfred Jarry and James Ensor, Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia, George Grosz and René Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico and Sturtevant, Sigmar Polke and Martin Kippenberger, to numerous contemporary positions of contemporary art such as Paul McCarthy, Nicole Eisenman, Fischli & Weiss, Isa Genzken, Pauline Curnier-Jardin, Kiluanji Kia Henda or Ming Wong.

An exhibition of the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn in cooperation with the Deichtorhallen Hamburg/Sammlung Falckenberg and the HALLE FÜR KUNST Steiermark and the Neue Galerie Graz/Universalmuseum Joanneum.
This exhibition project has been initiated and conceived by Jörg Heiser and Cristina Ricupero.

The last of their kind
Crafts and Professions in Transition

3 December 2022 to 2 April 2023

In the course of history, countless professions have emerged and disappeared or had to adapt to social and technical change, particularly as a result of industrialisation. This process has gained additional momentum through globalisation and digitalisation.

Global changes first happen at the local level. The exhibition takes a look at occupational change in North Rhine-Westphalia and focuses on five endangered professions. Using these examples, past, present and future expected effects of the transformation in work life can be made clear more generally. The five professions are the crafts of baking and tailoring, which are threatened by industrialisation and globalisation, the end of coal mining in favour of ecological change, the service profession of cashiers, which is gradually disappearing as a result of digitalisation, and the almost vanished craft of typesetting.

The exhibition shows that worldwide transformation processes are also reflected in the everyday work life of individuals. Aspects of social, economic and also ecological change become visible in individual professions and biographies, such as physical, psychological and social alienation as well as personal, family and regional loss of identity, or fear of the future.
However, social change also holds opportunities for improving everyday work life, especially in view of the current sustainability debate. Craft creativity and the knowledge transfer of cultural techniques play an important role in the education and well-being of all of us. Some crafts should therefore be preserved as intangible cultural heritage.

The exhibition, accompanying book and programme of events are being produced in cooperation with the Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI) of the Hans Böckler Foundation. The patron of the exhibition is Andrea Nahles, Chairwoman of the Federal Employment Agency.


30 September 2022 to 5 February 2023

Opera combines several forms of art (music, singing, acting, dance) and artisanry (costume, stage, lighting) to create a spectacular gesamtkunstwerk. It transcends the boundaries of reality, thrives on dramatic extremes, the magical and the irrational and, as an event, is as unique as it is ephemeral. Starting from the beginnings of opera in Italy, our exhibition stages a kaleidoscopic panorama of different forms of opera. It presents the baroque spectacles at the courts of Europe and explores the diversity of commercial venues in 17th century Venice. Drawing on the example of famous opera houses such as La Scala in Milan, the Vienna State Opera or the New York Met, it traces the growth and change of the institution in the 19th and 20th century and sheds light on the people who come together to cast their vision in the sumptuous form that the audience gets to see and hear.

A selection of paintings and costumes, posters and stage design models, caricatures and programmes – complemented by recordings of numerous operas – tells known and unknown stories of a genre and an institution that is constantly reinventing itself.

Bettina Pousttchi
The Curve

4 June 2022 to 24 October 2023

The artist Bettina Pousttchi realizes the 35-meter-long and 4-meter-high sculptural work The Curve on the flat roof. In doing so, she responds to the architecture of the building by Gustav Peichl and his understanding of the roof as a „fifth facade“ and as „another exhibition space“. Placed in the northwest corner, the sculpture nestles dynamically into the surrounding space in the form of an accessible steep curve. Markings, similar to those on a roadway, lead visitors toward the object and connect it associatively with the urban context of the street and the urban space. With The Curve, the artist also makes reference to the legendary test track for cars that the Fiat Group built on the roof of its factory in the Lingotto district of Turin, which opened in 1923. In its time, it stood for acceleration, movement and progress, and thus also decisively for the utopia of modernity. Pousttchi‘s construction-typological transformation of a car curve into a bicycle curve gives rise to a sculpture that offers visitors an open stage for movement and encounter and makes The Curve an artistic statement for a fluid society. Thus, the exclusively walk-in large-scale sculpture is also a reflection on fluid change, participation and sustainability and blurs the boundaries of reality and artistic fiction.
The artistic focus of Bettina Pousttchi‘s work is always on the examination of structures of public space and, in addition to sculpture and photography, also includes site-specific interventions with the means of photography on the scale of architecture. For example, Echo, 2009, was a monumental photo installation on the entire façade of the Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin that referenced the Palace of the Republic. With The Curve, the artist also realizes for the first time a sculpture on the scale of architecture that invites visitors to interact and participate.

Usage is at your own risk.
The Curve is for pedestrian use only!
Please do not climb or use skates, skateboards, roller skates, bikes and the like.

Simone de Beauvoir
and 'The Second Sex'

4 March to 16 October 2022

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) is one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century and celebrated as an icon of the women’s movement. In 1949, the writer and philosopher published Le deuxième sexe (Engl: The Second Sex), a study in which she examined the situation of women in the Western world. Her brilliant analysis, the treatment of taboo subjects such as sexual initiation, lesbian love or abortion unleashed a wave of criticism and hostility at the time. It was not until later that the study was recognised as the foundational text of women’s and gender studies and as a standard feminist work.
With Le deuxième sexe, our exhibition is devoted to what is probably Simone de Beauvoir’s most famous work. Since the emancipation of women across the globe remains far from achieved, the book has lost none of its relevance. The exhibition traces the genesis of the work in post-war Paris, when the philosophy of existentialism set new standards, and explores the significance and reception of this ‘bible of feminism’ within the women’s movement.
Literary and journalistic documents, interviews and films allow the writer’s most important companions such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Alice Schwarzer to have their say and shed light on Simone de Beauvoir’s thinking and her understanding of the free and independent life.

'Identity not Proven'
New acquisitions in the federal collection

7 May to 3 October 2022

Identity not Proven presents a selection of works that have been purchased for the collection of the Federal Republic of Germany by an honorary expert commission over a five-year period (2017–2021). The display will be complemented this year by purchases made by another acquisition commission with funds from NEUSTART KULTUR. The curatorial team hopes that the mixture of the two sets of acquisitions will not only prove topical and relevant but also offer a representative cross-section of contemporary art, including some very recent works. The dialogic concept of the exhibition is based on themes such as contemporary political and social relevance, postcolonial discourse, the constructs and construction of history, urbanity as well as individual or collective identities. The exhibition illustrates how historical and current developments, collective habits of seeing or questioning images translate into contemporary art. Ranging from large-scale installations to drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, video works, the selection bears witness to the wealth of media and techniques that distinguish contemporary artistic practice.

Contemporary Art Collection of the Federal Republic of Germany
Acquisitions from 2017 to 2021 and Acquisitions NEUSTART KULTUR from 2020 to 2021

Color as program

8 April to 7 August 2022

The exhibition deals with the theme of color as a programmatic tool. It brings together works and objects from the realms of art and cultural history spanning more than a hundred years. With the advent of Modernism, color itself became an autonomous medium of art and design. As a result, the use of color as a material has changed dramatically. In the wake of the fastpaced development of digital technologies in recent years, our perception of color and our understanding of the role of art have been shaped by increasingly intense chromatic experiences. The powerful impact of color touches all disciplines, not only aesthetically, but also politically and economically. By the same token, its commercial use in Capitalist societies has increased exponentially.
The central theme of Color as program is the artistic preoccupation with the affective and representative power of color. More than ever before, the meaning of color has become a complex construct of social conventions. The visual arts play a central role in the exhibition – not least because of their capacity to open up abstract spaces of thought.
The tour through the exhibition and its associative approach are integral to the overarching concept, which is further enhanced by the expansive site-specific architecture developed for the large central gallery by the artist and co-curator Liam Gillick.

Color as program is the first exhibition to be developed by the gallery’s entire curatorial team and thus brings together a wide range of different research interests and specialisms.

The Brain
In Art & Science

28 January to 26 June 2022

The brain is one of the last great mysteries of the human body. What is it that we have inside our heads, and how do we envision mental processes? Is ourself something other than our body, and how do we make sense of the world around us? What will the brain of the future look like? Will we become computer-aided cyborgs? It takes the cooperation of many disciplines to tackle these questions.
Brain research is constantly delivering new insights, but it also continues to face many unresolved questions. Art can give us the freedom and the detachment to consider thinking and feeling, consciousness and perception, memory and dream. In this exhibition, associatively linked works from the realms of art and cultural history are presented side by side with cutting-edge scientific research in order to explore and better understand the unknown territory that is the human brain.
An inclusive guidance system takes visitors through the exhibition. In addition, an accompanying virtual exhibition was developed to run on the internet parallel to the ‘analogue’ exhibition in the Bundeskunsthalle. The two exhibitions are linked through several augmented reality experiences in the Bundeskunsthalle. The virtual exhibition was made possible by the NEUSTART KULTUR programme of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.