Held every five years, Documenta is one of the most important events for contemporary visual arts worldwide. The first Documenta, created by Kassel painter and academy professor Arnold Bode in 1955, was an unexpected success. The exhibition, which was launched as the accompanying program to the Bundesgartenschau (German Federal Horticultural Show) that was held in Kassel that year, took an historical and documentary/reconstructive approach. It showed the development of the major artistic groups since the beginning of the century: Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Blauer Reiter, Futurism, Pittura Metafisica etc.---art which had been banned and defamed as degenerate by the Nazis. In total, 570 works by 148 artists from six different countries were showcased, and pre-War Modernism was deliberately displayed in all its European ramifications. Bode highlighted the works in the ruins of the Museums Fridericianum, today still the main building for the Documenta, whose provisional premises he outfitted with what at the time were considered extremely modern materials (such as plasterboard and PVC curtains).
Juan Davila (Chile): The Lamentation: A Votive Painting (detail), 1991
Photo: Peter Kupfer
Entitled Modernity?, Life!, and Education, documenta 12 has three leitmotifs and takes the form of three questions: Is modernity our antiquity? What is bare life? What is to be done?
Projects and works of more than 100 international artists of every generation will be presented. The exhibition includes work in all media: sculpture and drawing, photography and architecture, film, video, sound- and internetworks, performance and concert.
Documenta 12 Web Site
Click here for a Culturekiosque review and photos of Documenta 12.