The Collection

Otto Dix, Portrait of the painter Franz Radziwill, 1928, oil on canvas, 80,1 x 60,0 cm, inv. no. 0.1958.5427, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo: Horst Kolberg – ARTOTHEK
Otto Dix, Portrait of the painter Franz Radziwill, 1928, oil on canvas, 80,1 x 60,0 cm, inv. no. 0.1958.5427, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo: Horst Kolberg – ARTOTHEK

Since the foundation of what was then the Städtische Kunstsammlungen zu Düsseldorf in 1913, contemporary art has been part of the Museum’s suite. In 1916, founding director Karl Koetschau formulated the objectives of the Museum in building up the collections and emphasized that “they should show the history of how Düsseldorf art developed through the agency of its main art genres and masters, with selected works from the beginnings through to the present-day, to the extent that these enduring values should have been able to emerge.” (ex: Die Anfänge der städtischen Kunstsammlungen zu Düsseldorf). In the same book he stressed that this regional reference must also be complemented by international works, and in doing so outlined terms of reference that is still applied to acquisitions of modern and contemporary art in the Museum Kunstpalast today. The collection now embraces over 3,000 paintings, sculptures, video works and room installations by artists from the period between 1900 and the present day.

Otto Dix, The War, 1914, oil on canvas, 98,5 x 69,5 cm, inv. no. 0.1953.5035, ©  VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo: Horst Kolberg – ARTOTHEK
Otto Dix, The War, 1914, oil on canvas, 98,5 x 69,5 cm, inv. no. 0.1953.5035, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo: Horst Kolberg – ARTOTHEK

1913 - 1945

When acquiring contemporary art Karl Koetschau and his curator Walter Cohen largely restricted themselves to works by local artists, graduates of the Düsseldorf Academy, exponents of the Rhineland art scene, members of the Sonderbund movement and Junge Rheinland (Young Rhineland). These were joined by several works of German Expressionism – by artists from the “Brücke”, “Blaue Reiter” and “New Objectivity” movements. But it was striking that absolutely no interest was shown in buying French avant-garde art.

In 1932, Koetschaus’ successor Hans Hupp planned to set up a “Galerie der Neuzeit” or “Gallery of Modernity”; it was officially opened on July 17, 1935 with a clear focus on regional and German art. From 1936 onwards the Nazis forced him to sell works by artists such as Nolde, Pechstein or Dix, and following the confiscation of so-called “degenerate art” the “Galerie der Neuzeit“ was to all intents and purposes abandoned. In all, 101 paintings, 11 sculptures and 526 prints were lost as a result of this barbaric action.

Ellsworth Kelly, Red Blue, 1968, oil on two canvases, c. 231 x 370 x 4 cm, inv. no. 0.1974.11, © Ellsworth Kelly, photo: Horst Kolberg – ARTOTHEK
Ellsworth Kelly, Red Blue, 1968, oil on two canvases, c. 231 x 370 x 4 cm, inv. no. 0.1974.11, © Ellsworth Kelly, photo: Horst Kolberg – ARTOTHEK

1945 - 2001

After the end of World War II Werner Doede, the third director of the Düsseldorf Kunstmuseum endeavored to close this gap, and in the first ten years after the war he acquired mainly Expressionist and realistic works; it was only from the second half of the 1950s onwards that these were joined by abstract works from the pre-War avant-garde – Bauhaus, abstraction/création.

From 1969 onwards, the Modern Department of the Museum gained its independence and became a department in its own right distinct from the Painting Department. It was resolved to “specifically and systematically acquire contemporary art in an international context”. From 1976 onwards, Stephan von Wiese headed the Modern Department, and during the late 1970s and 1980s he concentrated on moving this strategy forward. He shifted the emphasis of the collection more strongly towards the artists around Joseph Beuys and his studentsand important exponents of Individuelle Mythologien (Individual mythologies) such as Michael Buthe or Stephan Runge.

Gerhard Richter, Helga Matura with her fiancé, 1966, oil on canvas, 200 × 100 cm, inv. no. 0.1973.305, © Gerhard Richter, photo: Horst Kolberg – ARTOTHEK
Gerhard Richter, Helga Matura with her fiancé, 1966, oil on canvas, 200 × 100 cm, inv. no. 0.1973.305, © Gerhard Richter, photo: Horst Kolberg – ARTOTHEK

Since 2001

When the Museum was transformed into a public private partnership and its name changed to Museum Kunstpalast from 2001 the new Director Jean Hubert Martin, also set a new policy as regards acquisitions of contemporary art by focusing more on works by artists from the former Third World – such as Ghada Amer, Jigya Soma Mashe, El Anatsui, Chen Ruo Bing, and works by artists who address the topics of globalization and its problematic implications.

The Modern Department collection receives valuable support from various support and development models. The  Archive of art photography from the Rhineland art scene (AFORK) established in 2003 by Stephan von Wiese now contains around 6,000 photographs and continues to expand thanks to support by the city of Düsseldorf and other sponsors. For many years, the Verein Friends Museum Kunstpalast (former Museumsverein) has supported the work of the Museum through prominent permanent loans and financing exhibition and publication projects. Extensive donations such as those by Wolfgang Hanck (2008) or by Willi Kemp this year complement the holdings. Affiliated with the Department or closely connected to it are the Gerhard und Margarethe Hoehme-Stiftung with the artistic legacy of Gerhard Hoehme and the ZERO Foundation, in which since 2005 large work groups and important archive material of the artists Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and Günther Uecker are kept and studied. Since 2008, a cooperation agreement has been in place with  Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf im Museum Kunstpalast, which enables acquisitions of younger art from the region. There are also important permanent loans and donations by individual persons, which constitute a valuable addition. The general policy remains: To underpin the strengths of the collection, nurture the links to the region (without allowing the quality to sink to a provincial level) and to enrich the collection with international works, which artists located in the region can compete with. Today, an expansion of the Museum seems more desirable than ever as for decades only a small fraction of the extensive holdings can be presented to a wider public.

Highlights

Holdings

Reiner Ruthenbeck, Table on Yellow Ball, 1984, wood, plaster, painted, 82 x 151 x 99,5 cm, inv. no. 0.1985.5 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo: Museum Kunstpalast – ARTOTHEK
Reiner Ruthenbeck, Table on Yellow Ball, 1984, wood, plaster, painted, 82 x 151 x 99,5 cm, inv. no. 0.1985.5 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo: Museum Kunstpalast – ARTOTHEK

Since the City Art Collections, the Städtische Kunstsammlungen zu Düsseldorf, as they were then called, were inaugurated in 1913, contemporary art has shaped the look of this museum. In 1916, its founding director, Karl Koetschau, set out the house policy for the structuring and increase of its collections and emphasised that they must ‘manifest the history of Düsseldorf’s art according to its major trends and masters, with choice works and from its beginnings up to the present, insofar as lasting values have already been able to emerge in [this time]’. In the interim, the Collection has grown to encompass more than 3000 paintings, sculptures, video works and indoor environments by artists active within the period from 1900 to today. Follow the link for a detailed account of the collection.

The Stadtsparkasse Collection at Museum Kunstpalast

Erik van Lieshout, Rotterdam – Rostock, 2006, video installation, inv. no. 0.2008.20Sp, Collection of the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf in the Museum Kunstpalast © Erik van Lieshout, photo: Museum Kunstpalast – ARTOTHEK
Erik van Lieshout, Rotterdam – Rostock, 2006, video installation, inv. no. 0.2008.20Sp, Collection of the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf in the Museum Kunstpalast © Erik van Lieshout, photo: Museum Kunstpalast – ARTOTHEK

Museum Kunstpalast and the Stadtsparkasse savings bank at Düsseldorf have cooperated on this collection since 2008. The basic idea for doing so is to promote up-and-coming art from the region and to add to the Museum’s collections with challenging contemporary art.  The cooperation agreement of 2008 outlines the principle:

‘Today’s concept of art calls for paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and installations to be collected simultaneously and side by side. The aim is to collect works that are coming about as we speak – in individual cases, works completed in recent years, but after 2000. The collection looks to works by artists who are active on an international level but who may be linked to Düsseldorf or the Rhineland by where they live, their studies, or other personal or professional ties.’

Manuel Graf, Qu’est-ce que c’est la maturité, 2008, video installation, inv.no. 0.2008.19Sp, Collection of the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf in the Museum Kunstpalast © Manuel Graf, photo: Museum Kunstpalast – ARTOTHEK
Manuel Graf, Qu’est-ce que c’est la maturité, 2008, video installation, inv.no. 0.2008.19Sp, Collection of the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf in the Museum Kunstpalast © Manuel Graf, photo: Museum Kunstpalast – ARTOTHEK

In the first three years of this cooperation, the Sammlung Stadtsparkasse im Museum Kunstpalast has quickly grown to over fifty works, including several entire interior installations, but also small-scale works on paper. In accordance with the agreement, works from the stock of these permanent loans are regularly presented at the Museum and published on those occasions.

The first of these exhibitions was mounted in 2008 as the launch of the ‘Spot on’ series (Spot on 01) and presented Wolfgang Tillmans. He installed a room with photographs, and these were purchased for the Stadtsparkasse Collection.

In the third Spot on, in 2009, Erik van Lieshout, a Dutch artist living in Cologne, showed his film Rotterdam – Rostock in a container built for the purpose. Accompaning the film were drawings that Lieshout had made during the cycling tour through Germany that is the subject of the film.

Bernd Ribbeck, Untitled, 2009, acrylic, marker and ball pen on MDF, 42 x 30 cm, inv. no. 0.2009.8Sp © photo: Museum Kunstpalast – ARTOTHEK
Bernd Ribbeck, Untitled, 2009, acrylic, marker and ball pen on MDF, 42 x 30 cm, inv. no. 0.2009.8Sp © photo: Museum Kunstpalast – ARTOTHEK

In the summer of the same year, Manuel Graf’s interior installation, "Qu’est-ce que c’est la maturité", formed the finale in the Seitenwechsel show, an array of selected items from the Museum’s holdings of art from the Middle Ages to the present, displayed in a new light.

The group of works by Cologne sculptor Alexandra Bircken was shown in the Spot on series in 2010.

Thomas Schütte’s room, Mobiliar für ‘One Man Houses’ (2005), was the only acquisition by the Sammlung Stadtsparkasse in 2010; it was also the year Schütte was accoladed with the City of Düsseldorf Art Award. The Mobiliar (‘Furniture...’) piece forms one of the highlights of the Museum’s new display as from 2011. 

Further artists in the Stadtsparkasse Collection well illustrate the standards and scope of the project. Simon Dybbroe Moller, Rosilene Luduvico, Eli Cortiñas, Christopher Williams, Bernd Ribbeck and Julika Rudelius are represented each with one or more important examples from their œuvre. The collection ranges from  photographers and painters to media and installation artists, many of them already in demand internationally. Thus, individual works have already been shown as loans at various museums such as the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, CRAC Alsace at Fribourg or Museum Morsbroich in Leverkusen.

You can find a selection of works from the Sammlung Stadtsparkasse here.

Publications

Modern Art

pdf of the list of publications

For catalogue orders please contact: petra.hecht(at)smkp.de

Out-of-print catalogues are available for reference at the library

Selection of available catalogues

Der Fotograf Nic Tenwiggenhorn. Hrsg. von Kay Heymer und Beat Wismer. Texte von Beat Wismer, Kay Heymer und Anne Rodler. Schirmer / Mosel, München 2016

Carl Buchheister. Pionier der Abstraktion Abstrakte Arbeiten von 1923 bis 1934 und von 1948 bis 1963, figurative Arbeiten aus dem 1. und 2. Weltkrieg, aus der Sammlung Kemp im Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf. 24. April - 07. August 2016. Text von Kay Heymer. Willi Kemp, Düsseldorf, 2016

Inken Boje – In guter Gesellschaft Düsseldorf, 2015. Text von Kay Heymer (Künstlerbuch, Auflage 60 Exemplare)

Bernard Schultze. Gemälde, Migofs, Zeichnungen, Collagen, Druckgraphiken und illustrierte Bücher aus der Sammlung Kemp im Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf. 18.04. - 30.08.2015. Text von Kay Heymer. Willi Kemp, Düsseldorf, 2015

Winfred Gaul. Gemälde, Druckgraphiken und illustrierte Bücher aus der Sammlung Kemp im Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf. 19.Oktober 2014- 1.Februar 2015. Text von Kay Heymer. Willi Kemp, Düsseldorf, 2014

Hommage à Karl Otto Götz. Arbeiten aus der Sammlung Kemp anlässlich des 100. Geburtstages des Künstlers im Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf vom 23.3. bis 17.8.2014. Text von Kay Heymer. Willi Kemp, Düsseldorf 2014

Klapheck. Bilder und Texte. Hrsg. von Beat Wismer und Kay Heymer. Texte von Beat Wismer, Kay Heymer, Konrad Klapheck und Gunda Luyken. Hirmer Verlag, München 2013

Faszinierende Dokumente. Eine Auswahl aus dem Archiv künstlerischer Fotografie der rheinischen Kunstszene (AFORK) / Fascinating Documents. A Selection from the Archive of Artistic Photography of the Rhineland’s Art Scene (AFORK) Hrsg. vom Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf. Texte von Kay Heymer, Anne Rodler, Natalia Gershevskaya, Sophia Stang und Andrea Horvey. Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, 2011

Klaus Mettig. Arbeiten 1976-2010, mit Texten von Hubertus von Amelunxen, Vladimir Gudac, Frank Wagner, Regina Wyrwoll (dt./engl.), DuMont, Köln 2010

Nam June Paik, hrsg. von Susanne Rennert und Sook-Kyung Lee (dt. und engl. Ausgabe), Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern 2010

Publikationen der Reihe Spot on

Eat Art. Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, 2015 (Spot on). Text von Kay Heymer

Leben mit Kunst. Reiner Ruthenbeck als Dokumentarfotograf Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf 2013 (Spot on). Text von Kay Heymer

Arnulf Rainer. Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, 2011 (Spot on 06). Text von Kay Heymer

Markus Vater: Das Metapherproblem. Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf 2010 (Spot On 05)

Alexandra Bircken. Sammlung Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf. Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf 2010 (Spot On 05)

Lichtraum (Hommage à Fontana). Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf 2009 (Spot On 04)

Erik van Lieshout. Sammlung Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf. Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf 2009 (Spot On 03)

Die Würde des Körpers. Bilder und Skulpturen aus der Sammlung Hanck Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf 2008 (Spot On 02)

Felix Droese: 20 Jahre Haus der Waffenlosigkeit. Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf 2008 (Spot On 01)

Joseph Beuys: Eurasienstab. Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf 2008 (Spot On 01)

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