The German conceptual artist Anna Oppermann (1940–1993) left behind an important oeuvre that deserves to be rediscovered. The exhibition presents her extensive work - from early pencil drawings to brightly colored works in mixed media to one of her last major works.

After studying at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts, she occupied an important and unique position in the German art scene from the late 1960s. Through her participation in documenta 6 and 8 in Kassel alone, she was known early on in the international context.

Her early artistic work from the 1960s shows her preoccupation with Surrealism, Dadaism and Pop Art and her intense interest in questions of perception. The growth and expansion of a theme as a collage on the picture or beyond the edge of the picture and into the room leads to her first picture-space collages from 1968, such as Being a Housewife.

„From the simple to the complicated, from the private to the public.“ – Anna Oppermann, 1984

Characteristic of her main work is the disclosure of the artistic process associated with her work and her reflections, which flow into arrangements of notes, drawings, photographs, print and objects; In addition to the visual, language is also an essential part of her work. For this purpose, she coined the term “ensemble” – process-based spatial collages that both encompass the installed work and illustrate the underlying method: “What I call an ensemble is created using a specific method, is documentation of this method and always also an aid to reflection for further investigations in the spirit of the method.”

These complex formulations demonstrate Oppermann's radical understanding of a work: it is open and dialogical, the process is immanent. Instead of clearly formed results, it shows the path of image production with its errors, detours, reductions, adaptations, repetitions and excesses. Exuberant, complex, but also smaller assemblages, rhizome-like constellations allow us to immerse ourselves in the search for and preservation of traces; she excludes “final, absolute formulations”.

With her work, Oppermann moves between everyday life and the art world, between mass media and various scientific disciplines, in order to trace the mutual conditions and effects between the private and the general, between simplicity and complexity. Contrasting, unfinished, private, everyday, traditional, fragmentary, but also sensual or kitschy elements are presented in an overwhelming variety in the ensembles, which reveal the idea for the occasion or the idea behind the work through their titles. Central topics are questions of perception, social or power structures, interpersonal relationships, the compatibility of being an artist and family, mechanisms of the art market, questions of economics and much more.

Anna Oppermann's works are both an expression of a process of self-questioning and an “offer for communication” about fundamental social and general human issues.

Posthumously, her ensembles are transferred to the present in a so-called interpretive new installation. This practice is based on both previous installations and the artistic method itself, knowing Oppermann's openness and generosity in dealing with her work.


Behind the Art

Behind the Art

Anna Oppermann. A Retroperspective

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Contact & Partners


📧 Susanne Kleine
Anna Schäffler

Press Officer

📧 Sven Bergmann

Cooperation Partners

The exhibition is a co-operation with the estate of Anna Oppermann. Barbara Thumm is responsible for the administration of the estate.

Cultural Partner