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"Sources of Friction and Elective Affinities"
The Press on Blind Date Seligenstadt


Unusual encounters, exciting dialogues – the exhibition Blind Date Seligenstadt combines the latest acquisitions of the Deutsche Bank Collection with highlights that have long since been part of the largest corporate collection worldwide. In the historical atmosphere of the Benedictine Abbey and in Seligenstadt’s oldest secular building, Wilhelm Sasnal was juxtaposed with Raymond Pettibon and Rosemarie Trockel with Joseph Beuys.

The rooms, lavishly decorated with Baroque frescoes, plaster ornaments, and chandeliers in an original and enigmatic atmosphere, contained one of the most unusual exhibitions ever to present the Deutsche Bank Collection. Here, contemporary art and historical architecture encountered and overlapped one another in a very special way. The show combined two premieres: following its extensive restoration, the cloister’s prelate was once again accessible to visitors, while the latest acquisitions were introduced to the public for the first time in the 27-year history of the Deutsche Bank Collection.

The fact that "Blind Dates" harbors a certain potential risk is something the Frankfurter Rundschau clearly recognized. "If you’re lucky, then all goes well: the tickling feeling in your stomach creates a sense of anticipation, you compare notes, discover differences and common denominators. (…) But it can also end terribly: something bothers you at first glance, the euphoria is gone, and a dialogue simply will not come about. (…) Who would have thought that of all institutions Deutsche Bank, the epitome of respectability, would in 2006 have a go at organizing an encounter with an uncertain outcome such as this? And in placid Seligenstadt to boot. This is where the leading bank of the republic is showing new additions to its collection for the first time – juxtaposing them with old hands in more than 40 Blind Dates. (…) Following the discussion surrounding ‘Peanuts’ and corporate culture in a time when layoffs abound despite huge profit margins, Deutsche Bank presents itself as a generous supporter of contemporary artists." The idea of situating the exhibition in a historical ambience proved convincing to Clemens Schürger. "With veritable instinct, the bank took the bull by the horns: they’re the first to exhibit in the prelate of the recently restored former Benedictine Cloister in Seligenstadt – before it becomes closed once again to the public." Yet the author also has a few problems with some of the Blind Dates. "The twelve photographs by Richard Prince (…) steal the show and make Sharon Lockhart’s Boy with Guitar seem even lonelier." But "in most cases, curator Ariane Grigoteit from Deutsche Bank, supported by Jessica Morgan, proves to have a sure instinct for coupling. Jeff Koons’ Hair, large in scale and loud both in color and gesture meets the drier Richard Hamilton, father of British Pop Art. The encounter between László Moholy-Nagy and Markus Amm beneath a Bohemian chandelier is wonderfully

cool. (…) The flat black and white photographs by the young Viennese Markus Schinwald are also austerely composed; they investigate the interplay between fashion and costume, movement and representation. Placed next to them in an interesting way are two works by Oskar Schlemmer in which the Bauhaus artist uses the delicate technique of the watercolor to soften his views on the geometry of the figure in space." The Frankfurter Rundschau chose the pairing of Avner Ben-Gal and Karen Kilimnik to illustrate the article.

Ackermann’s choice of words also inspired Reinhold Gries at the Offenbach Post. "At the start of its European tour, the Blind Date Seligenstadt exhibition of the Deutsche Bank Art Collection is showing anything but peanuts." The "ambitious project" does justice to the "high demands of global players." According to Gries, "newcomers and known artists provide surprising encounters between the historical and the modern, particularly in the Baroque abbey. In the audience hall, Richard Hamilton’s ironic Pop Art silkscreens (…) enter a dialogue with the historical legend of Tobias." He found many of the artist combinations extremely successful. "Confronted with Rirkrit Tiravanija’s political demonstration collage, Kurt Schwitters’ Dada collage seems suspended in classical equilibrium. Oskar Schlemmer’s human marionettes (1931/32) seem animated in the interplay with Markus Schinwald’s double-exposure photographic observations from 2003. The ‘excellent show’ becomes concentrated in the Altes Haus with works by Beuys, Trockel, Kippenberger, and Eliasson into a Who’s Who of contemporary art."

The Kunstzeitung has also recommended the show to its readers: "the largest corporate collection worldwide takes on shape in the form of artist couplings." And the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung speaks of "encounters of a special sort" that provide a "view behind the scenes at the collection." It praises the collaboration between the bank, the Kunstforum Seligenstadt, and the city’s administration of the State Municipal Palaces and Gardens, which made it possible to present these "extraordinary image pairs" in such an "unusual location." The newspaper also reports extensively on the press conference to the exhibition and quotes the enthusiastic words of the director of the Palaces Administration of Hessen on its successful symbiosis between historical rooms and contemporary art: "One can learn how to see here."

Karlheinz Schmidt from Informationsdienst Kunst had abundant praise for the Blind Date issue of Visuell, the catalogue magazine to the show: "Shouldn’t we finally fling a little mud at the boys and girls at Deutsche Bank? Nothing but praise – aren’t we losing our credibility? But what should we do? The ‘Deutsche Bank Art’ crew at Rossmarkt 18 in Frankfurt am Main evidently know what they’re doing. They know how to create collections, exhibitions, projects, and catalogues. By the way: the catalogue to the ‘Blind Date’ exhibition tour with new acquisitions is great. A deep bow to Spin in London for the design and layout alone."