The II. Documenta '59. “Art after 1945, Painting - Sculpture - Printmaking” took place from July 11th to October 1st, 1959 in Kassel . As the sponsor of this and future major events, documenta GmbH was founded with the city of Kassel as the majority shareholder.
The enormous success of the first documenta encouraged Arnold Bode , the initiator of the documenta , to continue with his exhibition concept and to take over the organizational management again. Right from the start, he had not planned a one-time exhibition, but a series of exhibitions every four years.
The focus of the exhibition this time was the art of the post-war period . Under the art-historical direction of Werner Haftmann , the view of the second documenta was strongly focused on abstract art . American art played an important role for the first time.
The city of Kassel has already known itself - in 1959 - in a brochure of the culture and press office for the second documenta as "Kassel - the city of documenta". At the end of the exhibition, 134,000 visitors had been counted. The concept of a museum of 100 days as a world exhibition of contemporary art was obviously successful.
Works of art
With the inclusion of American art, especially Abstract Expressionism , the worldwide claim of the documenta became evident. The huge large formats of the US artists were not without controversy, whose canvases at the II. Documenta seemed almost too large for the premises of the Fridericianum. The works did not arrive until shortly before the start of the exhibition, forcing the organizers to rearrange the objects.
The imposing backdrop of the orangery ruins for the exhibition of sculptures and sculptures left a lasting impression. With additional spatial staging through whitewashed, solidly bricked partition walls, the documenta began the first steps out of the closed buildings into the outside area and the Karlsaue . At night the sculptures were illuminated and cast stage-like shadows on the partition walls in the background.
A total of 338 artists took part in the exhibition:
Works of art remaining in Kassel
- scultura astratta by Alberto Viani
- Exhibition catalog: II. Documenta '59. Art after 1945 ; Catalog: Volume 1: Painting; Volume 2: Sculpture; Volume 3: Graphic Art; Text tape. Kassel / Cologne 1959
- Magistrate of the City of Kassel (ed.) / Arnold Bode and Ernst Schuh (draft): Kassel - the city of documenta . Kassel 1959
- Dieter Westecker u. a. (Ed.): Documenta documents: 1955–1968 - Four international exhibitions of modern art - texts and photographs . Kassel 1972, ISBN 3-87013-007-5 .
- Walter Grasskamp : Hans Haacke . Photo notes Documenta2 / 1959 . Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich, ISBN 978-3422070684 .
- Harald Kimpel: documenta, myth and reality . Cologne 1997, ISBN 3-7701-4182-2 .
- Dirk Schwarze: Milestones: 50 years of documenta . Kassel 2005, ISBN 3-936962-23-5 .
- Manfred Schneckenburger (Ed.): Documenta - Idea and Institution: Tendencies, Concepts, Materials . Munich 1983, ISBN 3-7654-1902-8 .
- Michael Glasmeier, Karin Stengel (Eds.): 50 Jahre / Years documenta 1955–2005 ; 2 volumes. Discrete energies / archive in motion, Kassel 2005, ISBN 3-86521-146-1 .
- Cultural Office of the City of Kassel / documenta archive (ed.) / CIS GmbH (prod.); CD: Documenta 1–9 - A focus on four decades of exhibition history / Profiling four decades of exhibition history - 1955–1992 . Kassel / Würzburg 1997, ISBN 3-89322-934-5 .