From Gerhard Richter to Rebecca Horn - Works from the Contemporary Art Collection of the Federal Republic of Germany

11 April to 31 August 2008

The title of this exhibition already suggests a temporally delimited visit: Visite was conceived and shown in Brussels in spring of 2007 to mark the occasion of the German presidency of the EU Council. The word Visite – whose meaning vacillates between 'to visit' and 'to inspect' – points toward the exhibition's immediate intention: the presentation of selections of a collection, an expanded version of which is now on view in Bonn.

The show is organized thematically, and is divided into three chapters dealing with the topics 'Existence', 'Space' and 'History'. Presented in exemplary fashion through these thematic foci are approximately 60 artistic positions from the past 20 years. This arrangement not only generates dialogic encounters between pairs of individual works, but also creates striking and telling linkages between various techniques and media, from drawing, painting and sculpture to photography and video. Finally, the exhibition’s thematic triad can be interpreted as an overarching theme, namely the 'Existential Space of History'. The viewing of individual works in this configuration allows the human existential agitation embodied in art to become comprehensible as an integral question.

The German government has been collecting art since 1970. Coming together over a period of 35 years has been a wide-ranging collection of German art. While this collection does document artistic production in Germany, it provides no comprehensive picture of the development of art in the Federal Republic.

The Federal Republic of Germany’s Contemporary Art Collection
The ‘Bundeskunstsammlung’ was initiated by Willy Brandt, then Federal Chancellor. He took up an idea presented by Georg Meistermann, Chairman of the Deutsche Künstlerbund (Association of German Artists). Initially, the collection stood under the aegis of the Interior Minister; today it is administered by the Minister of State for the Federal Chancellor Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media.
There exists no fixed abode where the collection can be viewed on a regular basis. Works are loaned to public institutions, to ministries, embassies, to the Federal Chancellery, as well as to numerous German museums. It is mainly through temporary exhibitions that the collection is made accessible to the public.

Decisions concerning purchases for the Bundeskunstsammlung are made by an independent commission consisting of experts in the field. Its members – who work without compensation – are appointed for three-year intervals by officials from the Federal Agency for Culture and Media. In order to make purchases, members meet at three major art fairs taking place in Basel, Berlin and Cologne. Currently available to them is an annual budget of almost € 500,000.

Despite its official character and high quality criteria, the Bundeskunstsammlung is not a museum collection. Rather, it represents the highly varied convictions and collecting strategies of its changing purchasing committee, which is not in a position to acquire works by universally acclaimed artists at correspondingly high prices. Certain gaps, then, must be accepted: a number of recognized artists, including Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz and A.R. Penck, for example, are represented only by works on paper. Others, including Gerhard Richter, are represented by single works, while there are none by Anselm Kiefer. Given current trends in the art market, such deficiencies will be virtually impossible to remedy.

Today, the federal collection encompasses nearly 1200 works. With a few exceptions, acquisitions are of works produced after 1949. Represented are all genres of the fine arts – from prints to installations, from photography to video.
Published for the first time in the catalogue, is a comprehensive list of all commissions and purchases.


From Gerhard Richter to Rebecca Horn
Works from the Contemporary Art Collection of the Federal Republic of Germany
German-English edition
200 pages with 90 color illustrations
Format 24,5 x 28 cm
Trade edition: DuMont Buchverlag, Köln
Museum edition: 19 EUR
ISBN: 978-3832177720

Katalogcover: Visite
Show bibliography
  1. Image from ExhibitionFoto: Peter Oszvald © Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland GmbH

Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

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