this issue contains
>> Welcome to "25"
>> Hall of Fame englisch
>> Interview with Ariane Grigoteit
>> Visionary Spaces: Zaha Hadid

>> archive


First of all through Zaha Hadid's exhibition architecture, a symbiosis of work world and exhibition setting whose rib-like form both physically protects and spiritually challenges the art works. Visitors are surprised to see art in this setting, just as they are to see it at their workplace in the bank where, for the past 25 years, art has been a source of motivation as well as of provocation. In order to bring this context to life, in Berlin we have made use not only of the traditional exhibition hall but also of part of the Deutsche Bank headquarters there. Thus visitors are confronted by a Deutsche Guggenheim completely transformed in appearance that unexpectedly leads them into the Deutsche Bank itself.

Tom Sachs, Wallpainting at Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, 2003, Photo: Mathias Schormann

On the Unter den Linden stands the first work in the exhibition, Max Ernst's sculpture Le Capricorne, chosen by Count Christoph Douglas. Then, instead of the classical "white cube", visitors enter Zaha Hadid's "art trail" that leads them through the selection of works. The trail finally leads through the transformed MuseumsShop and café into the atrium. From here a window opens onto the bank's medical facilities, in which are located two "curator's choices", both by the American artist Tom Sachs: a wall picture and a painted safe. From the atrium the visitor also has access to Francesca von Habsburg's exhibition choice, located in the reconstructed patio: Bill Viola's five-part video installation Going Forth by Day moves me as does scarcely any other work that has been created for our exhibition hall.

Renee Sintenis, Daphne, 1930,
Deutsche Bank Collection
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2005
Andreas Feininger, Brooklyn Bridge ca.1940
Deutsche Bank Collection
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2005

The collection includes works from classical modernism to the present. How is the art of the 20th and 21st centuries covering this time span presented to the visitor?

The 25 godparents' selections and the Curator’s Choice together form a more or less chronological progression, whereby I have been guided by the epoch that forms the focus of each selection. But the trail does not lead in a straight line through the history of art. Caesuras repeatedly occur, and there are fascinating confrontations that illustrate the multifarious contrasts between these individual perspectives. Thus at the beginning of the trail one finds for the most part masterpieces of classical Modernism, such as Vassily Kandinsky's Aquarell mit rotem Fleck (Watercolour with Red Patch, 1911), Paul Klee's Mit den Chinesen (With the Chinese, 1920), Emil Nolde's Phantasie (1931), and Max Beckmann's sculpture Adam und Eva (1917), which, however, are always juxtaposed by works by later artists.
The selection by the collector Paul Maenz, for instance, that initiates the exhibition in the hall itself, shows works by Anselm Kiefer, Renee Sintenis and Piet Mondrian that are united by the theme of transformation, of perpetual change—a theme that indeed runs like a thread through the exhibition. It is fascinating to see how some godparents use their selections to interpret the history of art as represented in the collection, whereas others ignore history and select works by their favourite artists. Still others have concentrated on a particular theme in making their selection, or on a particular genre. Take the two sections on "images of humanity", for instance: while Bärbel Grässlin has chosen works that cover an entire century, from Paula Modersohn Becker (1901) to Reinhard Mucha (1975), the seven works chosen by Dakis Joannou, with the exception of a 1913 watercolour by Oskar Kokoschka, focus on the period from 1985 to 1998. Through this concentration on 25 individual perspectives, I believe that we have succeeded in creating an overview of the collection that is both substantial and individual — one that shows the collection in all its variety much more clearly than would have been possible though a strictly art-historical perspective.

Oskar Kokoschka, Am Boden sitzender weiblicher Akt, 1913
Deutsche Bank Collection, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2005

Nan Goldin, April in the window, N.Y.C., 1983,
Deutsche Bank Collection, © Nan Goldin

What awaits visitors at the Curator’s Choice?

This section complements the "external" perspective of the godparents through an "internal" perspective—from within the bank. Last year more people asked me about a new work by Karin Sander in the IBC office complex in Frankfurt, which was opened in 2004, than about any other work before in the collection. On the walls on either side of the entrance hall, Sander had painted huge rectangular sections of wall white, and then repeatedly polished them until they gleamed like mirrors. Staff members, who had just passed through one security check, only apparently to be confronted by a second in the form of a reflecting wall, showed little understanding for this work: "There's nothing at all to see there—and that's supposed to be art?" Literally nobody was left unmoved by these white auratic wall pieces. Yet the brusque rejection of some staff members was balanced by the emphatic acclaim of others: "An incredible piece of cheek!" was one estimate, whereas others found the work "brilliant!" and "wonderful!" For after all, in looking at the work one is looking at oneself—is thrown back on one's own resources and forced to reflect on who one is. Often betraying a muted aggression, some colleagues felt insecure and as it were driven into a corner. Or given the context of the bank, do the white surfaces perhaps symbolise money's innocence as an empty abstraction—capable of doing and being everything and nothing? Now people had to formulate an opinion on the work, articulate their opposition or their approbation, take up a stance in an unusual situation. The more radically empty this work appeared to be of any personal expression whatsoever, the greater the need people felt to offer their own subjective interpretations and opinions. Thus once again art in the bank had succeeded—through self-reflection and self-recognition—in creating a discourse with cultural surplus value. It is this kind of fruitful provocation that delights me so much. And so for my curator's choice I asked Karin Sander for a smaller "mirror picture" to "stand in for" the larger version.

Shannon Bool, Ryan Air, 2004
Deutsche Bank Collection, © Shannon Bool
Mari Sunna, Breathe, 2001
Deutsche Bank Collection, © Mari Sunna, Courtesy The approach, London

What else is there to be seen in this section?

In addition there are a number of what one might call, without taking the term too seriously, "milestones" to be seen here — works that have set their mark on the collection in a number of different ways. Of course, it was impossible to bring works such as Max Bill's Continuity or James Rosenquist's gigantic painting in our London headquarters to Berlin because of the prohibitive costs. Yet I am certain that as visitors walk through the exhibition these works "flash upon their inward eye," for they possess iconic status within the collection.

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