Thomas Kellein

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Thomas Kellein (* 1955 in Nuremberg ) is a German art historian.

Live and act

Thomas Kellein spent his high school days in Hanover, while studying art history , philosophy and literature took him to Berlin, Hamburg and Marburg an der Lahn. Kellein received his PhD in 1982. His dissertation is in the book Sputnikschock und Mondlandung . Major artistic projects by Yves Klein zu Christo as well as in an additional part in his catalog Walter De Maria . 5 continents sculpture published. Kellein lives in Berlin.

In 1982 Kellein was appointed curator at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart , where he was in charge of the international "Archive for Intermedia Art after 1945" founded by Hanns Sohm. Since then he has curated exhibitions, initially with Ad Reinhardt and later with Walter De Maria .

In 1988, Kellein accepted an appointment as director of the Kunsthalle Basel , where he held exhibitions by Mark Rothko , Clyfford Still , Andy Warhol , Mike Kelley , John McCracken , Cindy Sherman , Hiroshi Sugimoto , Rachel Whiteread and the thematic projects “The 21st Century "And" World Morality. Morals in the Visual Arts Today “organized. Several of the exhibitions mentioned have traveled from Basel to various European countries and the USA.

During his time in Basel, Kellein was a guest curator at Watari-Um in Tokyo , at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. In 1995 he organized the historical exhibition “Pierrot. Melancholy and Mask ”. Between 1982 and 1996 he worked as a lecturer and professor for art history at the Philipps University of Marburg , the Stuttgart Art Academy , the University of Stuttgart and the University of Freiburg .

From 1996 to 2010 Kellein was director of the Kunsthalle Bielefeld . Under his leadership, the municipal museum transformed into a non-profit operating company. Kellein curated exhibitions by Alvar and Aino Aalto , Vanessa Beecroft , Louise Bourgeois , George Condo , Paul Delvaux , Fang Lijun , Caspar David Friedrich , Adam Fuss, Donald Judd , Ilya and Emilia Kabakov , Jeff Koons , Henri Laurens , Robert Longo , in Bielefeld , Kasimir Malewitsch , Yoko Ono , Pablo Picasso , Rirkrit Tiravanija or Not Vital . The thematic projects he worked on until 2010 included “1937. Perfection and Destruction ”,“ 1968. The Great Innocence ”and“ The 80s Revisited. Bischofberger Collection ”.

In 1997, Kellein initiated the state-funded project "Garden Landscape OstWestfalenLippe" in public and private gardens and parks, which from 2000 to 2010 comprised up to six different room arrangements per year. The participating gardeners and artists included a. Georg Baselitz , Gilles Clément , George Condo , Richard Deacon , Olafur Eliasson , Jenny Holzer , Ilya and Emilia Kabakov , Anish Kapoor , Jonathan Meese , Christiane Möbus , Piet Oudolf , Tobias Rehberger , Thomas Schütte , Martha Schwartz , Yutaka Sone or Jan Vercruysse . Several of the spatial arrangements, for example by Jenny Holzer in the Rheder Castle Park, are accessible as permanent installations. The “Piet Oudolf Garden” has been open in the Count's Park Bad Driburg since 2009.

In 2010, Kellein was appointed director of the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, where he remained until 2012. The approximately 130 hectare site includes more than thirty buildings, which the American sculptor Donald Judd added with his own works from 1982 onwards with funds from the New York Dia Art Foundation in order to make them accessible to selected artists. Kellein invited him to Basel in 1991 with the help of the Zwimpfer Partner architectural office , where Judd developed the facade design of the Ostbahnhof.

From 2012 to 2013 Kellein was an independent artistic consultant. Since 2013 he has been director of the Art Consult department at Berenberg Bank , which was relocated from Hamburg to Zurich in 2017. Between 1987 and 2010 he worked as a consultant for Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart, the Staff Foundation in Lemgo, various cities and municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia and the NRW Bank in Düsseldorf. Today he is Director of Art Consult at Bergos Berenberg AG in Zurich and continues to advise the Berenberg Group.

For the Written Art Foundation in Frankfurt am Main he curated the exhibition “The Grace Of A Gesture” with works by the New York artist Lawrence Weiner as part of the 2013 Venice Biennale . In 2015, Jenny Holzer's exhibition "War Paintings" followed at the Museo Correr . In 2017, the exhibition “The Home of My Eyes” by Shirin Neshat took place at the Museo Correr, Venice, under his direction . In 2019, the exhibition “Mapp Mondo” by Qiu Zhijie will be shown at the UCCA in Beijing, the focus of which is the series of “24 World Maps” commissioned by Kellein for the Written Art Collection.

In January 2015, Kellein testified as a witness in the trial against Helge Achenbach .

For the television series 1000 Masterpieces he wrote contributions to paintings by Georg Baselitz , Willem de Kooning , and Roy Lichtenstein . These texts were also printed in the books accompanying the series, are sporadically repeated on 3sat , ZDFkultur and Planet and are now available on DVD publications (see 1000 Masterworks # Literature ).


  • Ad Reinhardt. The black pictures. Exhib. Cat. (With Gudrun Inboden). State Gallery Stuttgart, 1985.
  • Happy science. The Sohm archive. Exhib. State Gallery Stuttgart, 1986.
  • Walter De Maria. 5 continents sculpture. Exhib. Cat. Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, 1987.
  • Sputnik shock and moon landing. Major artistic projects from Yves Klein to Christo. Publisher Gerd Hatje, Stuttgart 1989.
  • Mark Rothko. Kaaba in New York. Exhib. Cat. Kunsthalle Basel, 1989.
  • Ian Hamilton Finlay. Exhib. Cat. Kunsthalle Basel, 1990.
  • Cindy Sherman. Hatje / Cantz publishing house, Ostfildern-Ruit 1991.
  • Clyfford Still 1904-1980. The Buffalo and San Francisco collections. Prestel Verlag, Munich 1992.
  • The 21st century. Exhib. Cat. Kunsthalle Basel, 1993.
  • Mike Kelley. Hatje / Cantz publishing house, Ostfildern-Ruit 1993.
  • Andy Warhol abstract. Prestel Verlag, Munich 1993.
  • World morality. Morals in the visual arts today. Exhib. Cat. Kunsthalle Basel, 1994.
  • Rachel Whiteread, sculpture. Exhib. Cat. Kunsthalle Basel / ICA Philadelphia / ICA Boston, 1994/1995.
  • Hiroshi Sugimoto. Time exposed. Edition Hansjörg Mayer, Thames and Hudson, Stuttgart / London / New York 1995.
  • Fluxus. Edition Hansjörg Mayer, Thames and Hudson, Stuttgart / London / New York 1995.
  • Roni Horn. Making Being Here Enough. Exhib. Cat. Kunsthalle Basel / Kestnergesellschaft Hannover, 1995.
  • John McCracken. Exhib. Cat. Kunsthalle Basel, 1995.
  • Pierrot. Melancholy and mask. Prestel Verlag, Munich 1995.
  • Robert Longo. Magellan. DuMont Buchverlag, Cologne 1997.
  • Caspar David Friedrich. The artistic way. Prestel Verlag, Munich 1998.
  • As a painter, I call myself Konrad Lueg. (With Daniel Marzona). Exhib. Kat. Kunsthalle Bielefeld / Museum of Contemporary Art in Gent / PS 1, New York 1999/2000.
  • Kazimir Malevich. The late work. Exhib. Kat. Kunsthalle Bielefeld, 2000.
  • Abstract photography (with Angela lamp). Hatje / Cantz publishing house, Ostfildern-Ruit 2000.
  • Art works. Marzona collection. Art around 1968. Hatje / Cantz publishing house, Ostfildern-Ruit 2001.
  • Henri Laurens. Images of women, bodies of women. Exhib. Kat. Kunsthalle Bielefeld, 2001.
  • Donald Judd. The early work 1955-1968. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König and DAP, Cologne and New York 2002.
  • Jeff Koons. Pictures 1980-2002. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König and DAP, Cologne and New York 2002.
  • Adam Fuss. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König and DAP, Cologne and New York 2003.
  • Vanessa Beecroft. Photography, films, drawings. Hatje / Cantz publishing house, Ostfildern-Ruit 2004.
  • Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. The Utopian City and other projects. Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld 2004.
  • Alvar and Aino Aalto. Design. Bischofberger Collection. Hatje / Cantz publishing house, Ostfildern-Ruit 2005.
  • George Condo. One Hundred Women. Hatje / Cantz publishing house, Ostfildern-Ruit 2005.
  • Louise Bourgeois. La famille. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König and DAP, Cologne and New York 2006.
  • George Maciunas. The dream of Fluxus. Edition Hansjörg Mayer, London and Bangkok 2007.
  • 1937. Perfection and destruction. Verlag Ernst Wasmuth, Tübingen 2007.
  • Yoko Ono. Between the Sky and My Head. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne 2008.
  • 1968. The great innocence. DuMont Buchverlag, Cologne 2009.
  • Fang Lijun. Sea + Sky. DuMont Buchverlag, Cologne 2009.
  • The 80s Revisited. Bischofberger Collection. DuMont Buchverlag, Cologne 2010.
  • Rirkrit Tiravanija. Cook Book. Just smile and don't talk. Bangkok, River Books, and London, Edition Hansjörg Mayer 2010.
  • Picasso in Paris in 1905. (With David Riedel). Hirmer Verlag, Munich / Leipzig 2011.
  • Lawrence Weiner. The Grace of a Gesture. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne 2013.
  • Shirin Neshat. The Home of My Eyes. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne 2017.
  • Qiu Zhijie. Mappa Mundi. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne 2019.

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. January 5, 2015: Art historian becomes whistleblower
  3. "Watch out, we're selling it to Christian more expensive"