Text: Dr. Elke Backes, Coverphoto: Natascha Romboy
Museumsverein Abteiberg (Museum Association Abteiberg) landed a truly sensational coup! At the occasion of the triple anniversary of 120 years Museumsverein/50 years annual gifts/40 years Museum Abteiberg 66(!) artists followed the Association’s unusual invitation to contribute to the creation of a HOMMAGE A MUSEUM ABTEIBERG, amongst them Andrea Bowers, Alexandra Bircken, Imi Knoebel, Thomas Rentmeister, Giuseppe Penone, Katharina Sieverding, Ulrich Rückriem, Monica Bonvicini, Jonathan Meese and Joanne Greenbaum. Thus sensational unique works of unbelievable diversity were created that are connected by only one common factor: A box measuring 28,0 x 33,5 x 2,5 cm – the same as the Grünen Schachtel by Marcel Duchamp from 1934 in the museum’s collection.
Why a box? Where did the idea come from? How are the artworks presented? Under which conditions is the acquisition at a flat rate of 1.200 Euros possible? You can find all the answers here. Because, as a member of the advisory board I have been involved from the start ,)
Why a box and where did the idea come from?
It was obvious to all of us that this year’s annual gifts would have to be something special because of the triple anniversary. But how to pay homage equally to all three anniversaries? A team from the Museumverein tackeld this seeminly unsolvable task in September last year.
A first brain storming session took us every which way through our internal history. Finally, playing with many ideas lead us to the following key points: The special concept of the Museum Abteiberg; the Multiple Intuition by Joseph Beuys (who had is first solo exhibition in the former Städtisches Museum at Bismarckstraße in 1967); the Grüne Schachtel by Marcel Duchamp (part of the collection); the Kassettenkataloge by Johannes Cladders (Director of Städtisches Museum Mönchengladbach 1967–1982, first director of Museum Abteiberg, 1982–1985).
We found out that there is something they all have in common: The space! The space played an essential part in the development of the overall concept of Museum Abteiberg. It was this concept, 40 years ago, that the idea of art, space, exhibition concepts and presentation as a whole was first thought of.
It was and continues to be the empty space that forms the basis for creativity. In 1968, Joseph Beuys, used his Multiple Intuition empty wooden box to derive inspiration, amongst other things; Duchamp, his Grüne Schachtel, in order to give his notes and drawings regarding Großes Glas a common space, instead of using a catalogue; and Johannes Cladders took an (empty) cardboard box as a basis for his legendary Kassettenkataloge, which document a total of 35 exhibitions and became a covered collector’s item.
Marcel Duchamp, La Mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même / Boîte verte (The bride stripped bare by her Bachelors, even / Green Box), 1934, Facsimiles; Paper; Cassette height: 33,2 cm; Width: 28 cm; Depth: 2,5 cm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022, Photo: Ruth Kaiser.
Examples of Kassettenkataloge.
Against this background emerged our idea to invite all artists to fill and/or create our HOMMAGE A MUSEUM ABTEIBERG box, who had once before made annual gift. In a logistical master stroke and with the support of our volunteer helpers, ultimately a total of 140 boxes reached their national and international destinations, without having been asked. This unforeseeable result did not exceed just our wildest expectations.
Preparations for the mailing, centre: Dr. Christian Krausch (CEO Museumsverein Abteiberg), r.: Invitation letter to the artists for the creation of a HOMMAGE A MUSEUM ABTEIBERG.
How are the artworks presented?
Susanne Titz, the museum director, was also overwhelmed and reacted promptly. For the first time, not only is the large area for temporary exhibitions being made available carte blanche for presentations, but the rarely shown Grüne Schachtel by Marcel Duchamp is also taken out of the store and presented at the same time.
Against this backdrop, our next step was to develop an exhibition architecture compatible with our concept. Our target was to pay tribute to every single work and to give it the space required for concentrated viewing.
Uwe Hillekamp, an architect and board member, with his successful draft concept, developed an exhibition architecture where the space is divided by steles. Each stele has four niches in which one box is presented.
Draft concept of the exhibition architecture by Uwe Hillekamp.
Our next challenge consists of not only showing the contents of the opened boxes, but also to show all the aspects of the creative design. A job to which I am particularly looking forward!
On the way to installation.
In order to keep the excitement going until the grand opening on 17 November 2022, which will take place in combination with a lavish take-over party, we decided not to publish in advance all the results of the auction of the annual gifts. So, therefore, here just a little sneak peek for you …
Top left to right: Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, Roseline Rannoch, Joanne Greenbaum; below from left to right: Elke Baulig, Giuseppe Penone, Morgan Fisher.
What are the conditions for the purchase at the flat rate of 1.200 Euros?
The most important condition is that you need to be a member of the Museumsverein Abteiberg or to join the association at the latest at the time of ordering an annual gift. (You will find the cost of the various memberships via the link at the end of the text under „Antrag auf Mitgliedschaft“ (application for membership.)
From the date of the opening, one or more orders may be placed under the above condition. All orders will be collected until 8 January 2023. If there are several orders for a work, a drawing of lots under notarial supervision will take place. You will be notified immediately.
The flat rate of 1,200 € was decided by us in advance (see invitation letter to the artists). It was very important to us, in the spirit of our democratic idea, not to take into account the possible value of the works on the current art market. In accordance with our statutes, we will use the proceeds to support the Museum Abteiberg in the development of future projects.
In conclusion, all there is to say: Save the Date: 17 November 2022, 7.00 p.m., Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach!
We wish for a full house! :-)))
Comment regarding the cover photo: Obviously, this is a staging with empty (!) boxes.
Comment regarding the spelling of the title HOMMAGE A MUSEUM ABTEIBERG: In this case, too, there is a historical reference. In 1964, on Johannes Cladders’ 60 birthday, the catalogue HOMMAGE A CLADDERS appeared in exactly this spelling.
Exhibition on view: 17 November 2022–22 January 2023