Art association for the Rhineland and Westphalia

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Kunsthalle Düsseldorf , seat of the art association (2010)
“Share certificate” from the Art Association for the Rhineland and Westphalia from January 10, 1871

The art association for the Rhineland and Westphalia eV . is a non-profit and registered association based in Düsseldorf , which is dedicated to the presentation and communication of contemporary art . It was founded by statute of January 23, 1829, at that time still in the spelling Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westphalen , and is one of the oldest German art associations .


The pictures show the Dusseldorf artist in the gallery hall of Friedrich Boser , 1844, shows the Academy exhibition of the art association with Academy Director William of Schadow (in gray frock coat) in the image center. To the right of him is Karl Schnaase , then chairman of the art association.

1829 to 1933

Among the founders of the art association were well-known artists and professors from the field of the art academy , above all the then academy director and painter Wilhelm von Schadow and the academy professor Karl Josef Ignatz Mosler , as well as regional and supraregional aristocratic and civil dignitaries. According to Art. 1 of the statutes, the main purpose of the association was: "To promote art - hence to cheer up and support the artists and art disciples in their endeavors, to stimulate general participation in the beautiful, and to work so that art is preferred to the adornment of the public I dedicate myself to life and thus have the opportunity to hand over the most worthy monuments of their aspirations to the future. ”Works of art by artists working in Düsseldorf as well as national artists should be purchased and raffled among members or given to the public. In addition, the association also wanted to become active on its own and artistically enrich public life by ordering new and maintaining existing works of art. Until it moved to a permanent exhibition space, the Kunstverein was based in Düsseldorf Palace , which was also where the academy was housed in the 19th century. The first annual exhibitions took place here. The first members came from all over Germany, mainly from the Rhineland and Westphalia , and were supporters and collectors of the Düsseldorf School of Painting . The protector of the association was Friedrich von Prussia from 1829 to 1861 , then Karl Anton von Hohenzollern . At the turn of the century, the association had almost 14,000 members. After a severe fire in March 1872, the association had to move out from there and, on the mediation of the Prince of Hohenzollern, resided for several years in Jägerhof Palace and / or used the premises of the Tonhalle at Schadowstrasse 91. From 1882 onwards, the association used the then Düsseldorf art gallery , the until it was damaged in the Second World War and the subsequent demolition, with the narrow front facing the Heinrich-Heine-Allee , on today's Grabbeplatz (formerly Friedrichsplatz). The caryatids of Wilhelm Albermann then flanked the entrance. From the beginning, the club life of the Düsseldorf Art Association was always shaped by artistic and cultural-political debates with the Düsseldorf conditions and the general taste in art of the time. The Kunstverein has therefore repeatedly been the location and occasionally the occasion for various art and artist battles, some of which are now forgotten, for example between the Düsseldorf Art Academy and independent artists in the mid-19th century.

1933 to 1945

After the transfer of government to the NSDAP in early 1933 and the subsequent harmonization of German cultural life, the Düsseldorfer Kunstverein was also forced to adapt to the new conditions in terms of content and organization. On November 1, 1933, all German art associations were forced to become members of the “Bund Deutscher Kunstvereine eV” as the relevant professional association of the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts within the Reich Chamber of Culture . In 1933 at least two prominent NSDAP members were elected to the committee of the Kunstverein, firstly the Düsseldorf Lord Mayor Hans Wagenführ and secondly Ludwig Siekmeyer, who was then Gau chairman for “Westphalia-Lower Rhine” of the “Reich Chamber of Fine Arts” . In autumn 1934, the entire board of directors resigned for unclear reasons, probably in connection with a major amendment to the articles of association. The art association was able to maintain its association work until the beginning of 1945, and the art association had organized exhibitions until the end of 1943. Due to the very poor tradition and research situation regarding the Düsseldorfer Kunstverein in the period from 1933 to 1945, it is so far only very inadequately possible to make more precise statements about the developments and tendencies in the Kunstverein in this phase.

1945 to 1967

After the end of the war , the art association was able to resume its activities very quickly. In 1947 Hildebrand Gurlitt was appointed the first managing director of the post-war period, who was well networked and very successfully implemented an ambitious and modern exhibition program in the following years, which helped the art association to attract great national and international attention. In general, the presentation of “classical” works of German and European art continued to play a very important role in the Kunstverein's exhibition concept even after the war. In 1948 the Kunstverein resumed its exhibition activities and moved into the premises on the ground floor of the ruins of the municipal “Kunsthalle” on Grabbeplatz. The rooms there had been assigned to the association by the city of Düsseldorf as a temporary arrangement and until 1967 housed the offices and exhibition rooms of the art association. From 1949 onwards, there were repeated exhibitions on the work of artists who had been persecuted, banned or rejected during National Socialism, and others. a. on Marc Chagall (1949), Lovis Corinth (1950), Max Beckmann (1950), Aristide Maillol (1951), Max Ernst (1951), Karl Schmidt ‐ Rottluff (1951), Ewald Mataré (1952), Fernand Léger (1952) , Pablo Picasso (1953), Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1953), Emil Nolde (1953), Max Liebermann (1954), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1960) and many more. After Gurlitt's death in 1956, his deputy, Karl-Heinz Hering, was appointed provisional successor. From 1959 to 1961 Hering was together with Ewald Rathke , and then from 1961 to 1986 sole managing director of the Düsseldorfer Kunstverein. Central to the orientation of the Kunstverein were also the exhibitions organized in this phase by contemporary national and international artists who were already known or, in some cases, were still largely unknown in Germany at that time. a. to Sam Francis (1959), Tadeusz Kantor (1959), Renato Birolli (1959), Lasar Segall (1960), Maurice Estève (1961), Jackson Pollock (1961), Piero Dorazio (1961), Jean Lurçat (1961), George Rickey (1962), Hans Hartung (1963), Roberto Sebastian Matta (1963), Viktor Vasarely (1964), Bernhard Luginbühl (1965), Eva Hesse (1965), Fritz Winter (1966), Horst Janssen (1966), Alan Davie (1968), Max Bill (1968), Jésus Rafael Soto (1968), Niki de Saint ‐ Phalle (1968) and many more

From 1967

Since 1967 the Kunstverein has had rooms in the newly founded Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in the brutalist building on Grabbeplatz, built by Konrad Beckmann . The art association has a 25.1 percent stake in the non-profit organization that supports the art gallery. Located in the center of the city, the art association has since presented its program in the immediate vicinity of the Düsseldorf Art Academy and the North Rhine-Westphalia art collection established in 1985 . The renovation of the building by the rheinflügel architectural team in 2001 returned the brutalist architecture to its original form.


In addition to changing exhibitions, communicating the social relevance of contemporary art determines the profile of the Kunstverein. This includes the development of models, redefining the relationship between the fine arts and their viewers, as well as commenting on the present, its challenges and visions. To make it easier for members and visitors to gain access to current art events and to deal with the exhibitions, the art association offers numerous guided tours, lectures, film programs, symposia and trips.

In 2001 the art association was awarded the Young Art in Art Associations Prize by the Jürgen Ponto Foundation for its program . Today the art association has around 3,800 members. Rita Kersting was the director from 2001 to 2006 and Vanessa Joan Müller from 2006 ; in September 2011 she was succeeded by the Berlin art critic and curator Hans-Jürgen Hafner (regularly until August 31, 2016). As his successor, the curator at the Kunsthaus Bregenz , Eva Birkenstock , was appointed in May 2016 .


In 2015, the Kunstverein was awarded the 8,000 euro prize for art associations , which has been awarded since 2006 in cooperation with the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Kunstvereine (ADKV) and Art Cologne . The award was presented on April 18, 2015 during Art Cologne.


  • 175 years of the art association for the Rhineland and Westphalia. Self-published, 2004.
  • Otten, Marie Luise (Ed.), From Dada to Beuys. 30 years art association for the Rhineland and Westphalia , Schwarzbach Presse, Ratingen, 1998 ISBN 3000031375
  • 5 × 30 Düsseldorf art scene from five generations. 150 Years of the Art Association for the Rhineland and Westphalia 1829–1979, self-published, 1979
  • Otto Ruhnke: To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the art association for the Rhineland and Westphalia . Voss, Düsseldorf 1879. Digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf


Chair from 1829 to 2011

  • 1829–1831: Philipp von Pestel , District President
  • 1831–1834: Franz Edmund Josef von Schmitz-Grollenburg , District President
  • 1834–1839: Franz von Spee , Graf
  • 1840–1848: Karl Schnaase , chief procurator
  • 1848–1864: Friderichs, Privy Councilor of Justice
  • 1864–1865: Johann Hermann Altgelt , Privy Councilor
  • 1865–1866: Hermann von Mallinckrodt , member of the government
  • 1866–1880: Leo von Massenbach , District President
  • 1881–1883: Werner Hausmann , doctor
  • 1883–1884: Wilhelm von Becker , Privy Councilor of Justice
  • 1884–1897: Spickhoff, Counselor
  • 1897–1911: Hermann Nicolaus von Wätjen (1851–1911), retired government councilor D.
  • 1911–1924: Wilhelm Lohe (1861–1924), Councilor of Justice, City Councilor
  • 1924–1939: Alfred Friedrich Flender (1876–1939), factory owner A. Fr. Flender & Co.
  • 1939–1941: Josef Wilden (1877–1953), professor, president of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, councilor of the city of Düsseldorf, president of the municipal music association until 1949
  • 1941–1946: Karl Jarres , retired Lord Mayor D.
  • 1946–1953: Josef Wilden (1877–1953)
  • 1954–1958: Victor Achter , lawyer, professor in Cologne
  • 1958–1961: Carl Halslinde (1893–1964), President of the Oberfinanzdirektion Düsseldorf a. D.
  • 1961–1967: Viktor Achter
  • 1967–1977: Günter Geisseler (* 1909), senior regional judge a. D., corporate legal advisor of Mannesmann AG
  • 1977–1995: Gerd Schäfer, lawyer
  • 1995–1997: Werner Lippert , art historian
  • 1997–2000: Wolfgang Döring , professor, architect
  • since 2000: Georg Kulenkampff

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Statute of the Art Association for the Rhineland and Westphalia as of January 23, 1829
  2. ^ History of the Art Association for the Rhineland and Westphalia 1829 to 1945 , in the finding aid of the city of Düsseldorf
  3. Minutes of a general assembly on January 14, 1946 and the corresponding permit from the British military administration of December 1945.
  4. ^ History of the art association for the Rhineland and Westphalia 1945 to 1967 , in the finding aid of the city of Düsseldorf
  5. ^ Website of the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen ( Memento from February 8, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  6. ^ Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Kunstvereine: ADKV-Art Cologne Prize for Art Associations 2015 , accessed on March 26, 2015
  7. Short biography: Gerd Schäfer ( Memento of the original from June 1, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. Imprint: © 2012 Art Association for the Rhineland and Westphalia, Düsseldorf , accessed on April 29, 2016