Discussion of Documenta - History / Art / Politics

The Deutsches Historisches Museum held a symposium on documenta, an exhibition tightly related to German history and politics

October 21st, 2019
Juliette Toussaint, Olivia Higgins, News from Berlin
20191021_Discussion of Documenta.jpg

At the symposium “documenta. History / Art / Politics”, renowned art historians and curators, artists and historians took the example of this specific exhibition to discuss the complex relationship between history, art and politics.

documenta is an exhibition of contemporary art, which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. It was founded by artist, teacher and curator Arnold Bode in 1955 and was an attempt to bring Germany up to speed with modern art, both banishing and repressing the cultural darkness of Nazism. This first documenta featured many artists who are generally considered to have had a significant influence on modern art (such as Picasso and Kandinsky). The more recent documenta’s feature art from all continents and are considered as major world events worldwide.

The symposium at the Deutsches Historisches Museum was exploring the interconnections between history, art and politics within the documenta exhibitions, the main claim being that the aesthetic-political history of the Federal Republic is notably reflected in the exhibition. The very aim of its foundation was to re-enter the world of Modern Age through art, after a phase of extreme political-ideological instrumentalization.

Arnold Bone’s daughter, an artist in her own right, attended the event and reflected on her father and his initiatives and goals with documenta. The initiative had multiple purpose from its very beginning:  the creation of an international exhibition of contemporary art, the reconstruction of Kassel, of which 80% was destroyed during the war, and finally the aim to reintegrate Germany into the European framework.


News from Berlin