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documenta - History

All the editions of the documenta in Kassel since 1955

documenta 1, 1955
Parallel to a National Garden Show the painter and academy professor from Kassel Arnold Bode (1900-1977) initiates an exhibition of contemporary art. Together with the art historian Werner Haftmann he presents a retrospective of classical Modernism defamed by the Nazis as "degenerated" art as well as younger artworks.


documenta 2, 1959
The great success of the first show (130.000 visitors) confirmed Bode and Werner Haftmann, to plan an even more extensive exhibition. The Museum Fridericianum was not sufficient any more, further exhibition places were included.


documenta 3, 1964
The last Edition under the direction of Arnold Bode and Werner Haftmann. In the catalog preface Bode designates for the first time a documenta as a "Museum of 100 Days".


documenta 4, 1968
Vehement controversies accompany its preparation. Werner Haftmann resigns. A committee of 23 members determines the selection of the artists. After the retrospective direction of the first three Editions, from now on almost exclusively the current art production will be shown.


documenta 5, 1972
After Arnold Bode the Swiss curator Harald Szeemann is appointad as the solely responsible "secretary general". His concept for documenta: "The Questioning of Reality - Image Worlds Today".


documenta 6, 1977
Manfred Schneckenburger is the artistic director of this edition. Film, photography and video are among the main focuses of his show. Its inclusion of official artists from Eastern Germany faces vehement protest.


documenta 7, 1982
Rudi Fuchs from the Netherlands is in charge of this documenta. He dedicates special attention to painting, particularly to the "Neuen Wilden" from Germany. The 7.000 basalt stones from Joseph Beuys are among the most spectacular artworks of the show.


documenta 8, 1987
Manfred Schneckenburger, a second time head of a documenta, proposes to examine the "historical and the social dimension of art". Sound and video installations as well as a performance program were expected to achieve this. Architecture and design are also given great importance.


documenta 9, 1992
Artistic head it is the Belgian Jan Hoet. The fact that to this documenta came more than 600.000 visitors, is ascribed in particular to Hoets charisma and talent for putting himself in scene. However, just this staging as event is refused by the art criticism.


documenta 10, 1997
With Catherine David, from France, for the first time a woman undertakes the direction of a documenta. She sees her concept as a "critical confrontation with the present" and stresses her ethical and political claim: " the last documenta of this century can hardly evade the task of elaborating a historical and critical gaze on its own history, on the recent past of the post-war period, and on everything from this now-vanished age that remains in ferment within contemporary art and culture..."
Information and photos (old website)


documenta 11, 2002
With Okwui Enwezor, born and grown in Nigeria, for the first time a Non European curator is appointed as the artistic of documenta. Co-curators: Carlos Basualdo, Ute Meta Bauer, Susanne Ghez, Sarat Maharaj, Mark Nash, Octavio Zaya. 118 artists and artist groups.
Special by UiU (old website)


documenta 12, 2007
Artistic director: Roger M. Buergel; curator: Ruth Noack. 109 artists from 43 countries.
Special by UiU (old website)


documenta 13, 2012
Artistic director: Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. Director of the curatorial department: Chus Martínez. Aprox. 190 participants.
Special by UiU


documenta 14, 2017
Artistic director: Adam Szymczyk. Curatorial team. 8 April - 16 July in Athens, Greece; 10 June - 17 September 2017 in Kassel.
Special by UiU


documenta 15, 2022
Artistic direction: ruangrupa artist collective. 18 June - 25 September 2022
Special by UiU


© Compiled by Gerhard Haupt & Pat Binder, based on information on the official documenta website and other sources

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