Cloud and Crystal: The Dorothee and Konrad Fischer Collection

24. September 2016 – 8. January 2017
K20 | Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen | Düsseldorf

Curated by Dr. Anette Kruszynski
Curatorial assistance: Nóra Lukács

With the exhibition »Cloud & Crystal«. The Dorothee and Konrad Fischer Collection, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen celebrates the acquisition of the art collection formerly belonged to the celebrated Düsseldorf gallerist couple Dorothee and Konrad Fischer. These works of Conceptual Art and Minimalism represent a decisive complement to the collection of US postwar painting already owned by the Kunstsammlung.

In 1967, Konrad Fischer – who had initially been active as an artist – opened a gallery in Düsseldorf‘s historic center together with his wife Dorothee. He was one of the first European art dealers to take a consistent interest in the latest art of his own time. Regarded with justice as a pioneer of Conceptual Art, he converted his exhibition space into a meeting point for artists and collectors from around the world, catapulting Düsseldorf to the forefront of the contemporary avant-garde scene. The Dorothee and Konrad Fischer Collection testifies to the manifold activities of these gallerists up to the present. Many of the works in the ensemble were produced as a result of friendly relations with the contributing artists.

In this exhibition (and, in the future, in the permanent collection of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen), the paintings of artists like Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg – which primarily target the senses and emotions – will be shown together with conspicuously »aloof« works of Conceptual Art. Through this juxtaposition, it becomes clear that a radical upheaval in the forms of creative expression occurred in tandem with the societal transformations around 1968. Emerging alongside innovative approaches to painting was an art that opposed the conceptual aspect, the idea – now regarded as a valid work of art in and of itself, and without being materialized in an object – to the subjectivity of painterly gesture.

Carl Andre, Daniel Buren, Dan Flavin, On Kawara, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, and many others represented in the Fischer Collection renounced personal artistic hand writing and worked with drawings, texts, photo graphs, documents, and industrially manufactured materials. Works by Hanne Darboven, Jan Dibbets, Gilbert & George, and Lawrence Weiner demonstrate that a work may consist exclusively of ideas and concepts. Lothar Baumgarten, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and Italian Arte Povera artists such as Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, and Giuseppe Penone have made extraordinary contributions to the art of our time. In the present, Gregor Schneider, Thomas Schütte or Paloma Varga Weisz, continue to develop installation art. The collection encompasses many works by artists who exhibited in the Fischer Gallery but there are also individual works by artists esteemed by Dorothee and Konrad Fischer, but who were not exhibited within their program (these include Piero Manzoni and Niele Toroni). Selected installations, for example those by Richard Long and Bruce Nauman, reconstruct the precise spatial dimensions of the original arrangements in the legendary exhibition space of the Galerie Fischer.

The acquisition of the Fischer Collection is an exceptional event for the art scene in the West of Germany, and is celebrated now through the exhibition »Cloud & Crystal«. The Dorothee and Konrad Fischer Collection. The more than 200 paintings, drawings, installations, sculptures, textual works, and designs contained in the Fischer Collection highlight with great clarity the importance of this acquisition.

Presented to supplement the artworks is a selection from the abundant inventory of letters, notes, sketches, and invitations from the archive of Dorothee and Konrad Fischer. These materials, transferred to the museum as a donation, constitute an invaluable source of information: they shed light on the relationships between artists and gallerists and on the fruitful dialogue occurring between them, and provide useful insights into the process through which artistic ideas emerged and were implemented. Beginning in 2017, the Fischer Gallery Archive will be digitally accessible to the wider public in the library of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen.

Within the exhibition I was specially responsible for the research and the presentation of the Archive. My making of… video for the online Magazin #32 about the preparation of the Archive by ZADIK is available here.

Installationviews of “Cloud & Crystal” incl. Archive, K21
Photo: Achim Kukulies, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen

Artists:
Carl ANDRE, Richard ARTSCHWAGER, Lothar BAUMGARTEN, Bernd und Hilla BECHER, Joseph BEUYS, Marcel BROODTHAERS, Stanley BROUWN, Daniel BUREN, Alan CHARLTON, Hanne DARBOVEN, Jan DIBBETS, Dan FLVAIN, Gilbert & George, Douglas HUEBLER, Stephen KALTENBACH, On KAWARA, Harald KLINGELHÖLLER, Jannis KOUNELLIS, Jim LAMBIE, Sol LEWITT, Richard LONG, Konrad LUEG, Robert MANGOLD, Piero MANZONI, John MCCRACKEN, Mario MERZ, Juan MUÑOZ, Bruce NAUMAN, Giuseppe PENONE, Manfred PERNICE, Ulrich RÜCKRIEM, Robert RYMAN, Gregor SCHNEIDER, Thomas SCHÜTTE, Niele TORONI, Paloma VARGA WEISZ, Lawrence WEINER

The catalogue accompanying the exhibition presents all works acquired by the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. Within the publication I was authoring articles on following artists: Carl Andre, Bruce Nauman, Richard Long, Lawrence Weiner, Daniel Buren, Gilbert & George, On Kawara, Lothar Baumgarten, Gregor Schneider.

Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf (ed.), Anette Kruszynski (conception): “Cloud and Crystal:” The Dorothee and Konrad Fischer Collection, Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld, 2016, 308 pages, more than 350 color illustrations, in German and English.
With texts by Dietmar Elger, Valerie Hortolani, Philipp Kaiser, Anette Kruszynski, Doris Krystof, Nóra Lukács, Isabelle Malz, Lynda Morris, Maria Müller-Schareck, Ulrike Schmitt.

The exhibition has received generous support from the Terra Foundation for American Art, while the accompanying program of the Education Department is being sponsored by Provinzial Rheinland Versicherung.