Word Script Sign—The Alphabet of Art

Word Script Sign—The Alphabet of Art


January 30, 2024
Word Script Sign—The Alphabet of Art
September 15, 2023–August 14, 2024
Add to Calendar
Art talk, “with a view to…”: February 6, 6–7pm, Anna Blume, Kölner Hausfrauen (Cologne (Housewifes), 1979–1982
Required Reading…or what I’ve always wanted to read: February 15, 5:30–7pm
Kolumbastraße 4
50667 Cologne
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 12–5pm

T +49 221 9331930
Instagram / Facebook / Vimeo

In the beginning was the Word” is the opening line of the Gospel of St. John and one of the most complex figures of thought in world literature, since “the Word was with God, and the Word was God (…) Nothing was made without the Word”. The Evangelist formulates an exclusivity, which invites a contradiction. He could not “possibly rate the word so highly” declares Goethe’s Faust, the universal scholar, in order to ponder whether it should not rather be the “idea”, the “force” or ultimately the “deed” which were present at the beginning of creation. In relation to art, we can ask ourselves whether the deed or the idea determines a work of art, or to put it another way: if art can simply be thought or needs to take on an accessible form in principle. And what about the relationship between word and picture? Word Script Sign are the thematic fields of our annual exhibition. For if the word is to be of duration, it must be linked to script, which in turn derives from the linear possibilities of drawing, while being itself a sign. When exactly does a drawing become a sign? And what about its ambivalence? To what extent does the legibility of signs depend on cultural consensus bound up with a time and a place? Our collection, with works dating from many centuries, provides the material to reflect on these and other questions. 

With works from 14 centuries to the present by Birgit Antoni, Monika Bartholomé, Kurt Benning, Anna Blume, Louise Bourgeois, Felix Droese, Terry Fox, Marta Hegemann, Rebecca Horn, Bethan Huws, Leiko Ikemura, Buket Isgören, Hans Josephsohn, Leonhard Kern, Konrad Klaphek, Robert Klümpen, Jannis Kounellis, Dieter Krieg, Susanne Kümpel, Stefan Lochner, Chris Newman, Rune Mields, Marcel Odenbach, Thomas Rentmeister, Raymond Roussel, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Dorothee von Windheim, and Students from BURG Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle, among others.
Curated by Stefan Kraus, Ulrike Surmann, Marc Steinmann and Barbara von Flüe

Events accompanying the exhibition

Required Reading
.. or what I’ve always wanted to read

Every second Thursday of the month at 5:30 pm, admission free
February 15, March 14, April 11, June 13, July 11, August 8

A notebook by the American artist Paul Thek in the Kolumba collection bears the title “Required Reading.” Inside are longer and shorter quotations from various, mostly philosophical-spiritual texts, handwritten by the artist and collected over time. We take up this idea of a subjective collection of particularly important texts: Every month, we invite guests to bring along a text that is particularly close to their hearts and that they recommend we read here and now. Required Reading therefore does not establish a (new) canon of compulsory readings; rather, we invite you to follow the traces laid out and to contribute your own reading experience in dialogue with the respective guest and other visitors. Required Reading always takes place on the second Thursday of the month, from 5.30pm to 7pm. The event is organised by our guest curator Andreas Speer (Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cologne) and moderated by the changing guests. Admission is free. The prerequisite for participation is a willingness to read in advance. If you would like to take part in an event, please send an e-mail to: ticket [​at​] kolumba.de. You will then receive the text as a PDF.

RSVP for Word Script Sign—The Alphabet of Art
January 30, 2024

Thank you for your RSVP.

Kolumba will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.