November 2, 2016 - ZKM | Center for Art and Media - Art in Europe 1945–1968
November 2, 2016

ZKM | Center for Art and Media

View of Art In Europe 1945–1968, ZKM | Karlsruhe, 2016. © ZKM | Karlsruhe. Photo: Felix Grünschloß.

Art in Europe 1945–1968
The Continent that the EU does not know
October 22, 2016–January 29, 2017

Author reading: November 17, 6:30pm, with Els Moors, Monika Rinck, Maarten van der Graaff, Peter Verhelst and Armando

ZKM | Center for Art and Media
Lorenzstr. 19
76135 Karlsruhe

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Together with BOZAR Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and ROSIZO State Museum and Exhibition Center in Moscow, ZKM | Karlsruhe is organizing the large-scale Art in Europe 1945–1968 exhibition project—curated by Eckhart Gillen and Peter Weibel with Daria Mille and Daniel Bulatov. The exhibition focuses on the connecting cultural forces on the Eurasian continent, which was repeatedly shattered and disrupted by wars and crises in the 20th century. Using artwork and a documentary timeline, the exhibition highlights the fracturing of civilization in World War II and the Neo-Avant-Garde approach of the post-war era.

The exhibition unites more than 600 loans from over 500 artists into a panorama of pan-European art development on both sides of the historic Iron Curtain. At ZKM, which focuses on experimental artistic developments of the 1950s and 1960s in one of its program lines, the exhibition is experiencing an independent prioritization and expansion. Representatives of Western Neo-Avant-Garde, such as Zero, Nul and the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel, are now appearing for the first time in the context of new Eastern European and Russian trends that emerged in parallel—such as Nove Tendencije and the Dvizhenie group.

Several new narratives for Europe are developed with the exhibition and the catalogue accompanying it. Firstly, post-war art is being interpreted as the processing of traumatic experiences of World War II, the Holocaust and nuclear annihilation. This leads to crisis and rejection of representation by abstraction, as well as to the destruction of the means of representation and to the processing of the materials of the trauma. Secondly, around 1960, the abandonment of abstraction and the devotion to objects begins, e.g. in the form of New Realism. As a result, the expansion of the arts into technical media and into forms of action of the artist and public emerges. Thirdly, the departure from utopia is exhibited, which is expressed intently in 1968—the same year the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops into Prague took place. Fourthly, the exhibition aims to culturally unite a historically divided Europe. In the past, nations, which had been politically separated for decades, did not give sufficient consideration to the cultures of the other nations despite the end of the Cold War.

Adding to this, Art in Europe 1945–1968 is “making a dedicated plea for Europe," according to Peter Weibel, CEO of ZKM and curator of the exhibition. “The foundation of the European Union in 1992 to 1993, based on the economic European Coal and Steel Community and the Monetary Union, does not seem to have led to a Europe which is really united. Rather, the divide is growing increasingly between the European Union and the states of Europe. We are finding that religions, nations and politics are separating people. However, we know that art and culture can unite people and nations. It seems as if the ‘cultural continent of Europe’ is not acknowledged by the EU body—the subtitle of the exhibition The Continent that the EU does not know expresses this painful experience.”

ZKM | Karlsruhe is part of the EU-subsidized Trauma and Revival project (2016–18), alongside BOZAR, the Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella, the Association kim? in Riga, the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art in Poland and the University of Jyväskylä. Based on a documentary timeline presented within the exhibition, which visualizes central political and artistic events of the past in Europe, ZKM will launch a digital timeline in March 2017. Designed as an app and a responsive website, it will be the connector between the different partner activities, such as artists’ residencies, conferences and round table discussions.

The sites of the exhibition

BOZAR (Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles)
June 23–September 25, 2016

ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
October 22, 2016–January 29, 2017

Pushkin State Museum Of Fine Arts
March 7–May 28, 2017

ZKM | Center for Art and Media
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