Profile - Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

The Kunsthalle, a concrete block built in 1967, is one of the most concise buildings in Düsseldorf, a now rare example of raw architecture. Architects Beckmann and Brockes used prefabricated blocks of concrete, developed in the 1950s for purely economic reasons, and thus were faced with more than just a formal challenge. This is the background against which the Kunsthalle's architecture must be regarded today.
Ever since the building on the Grabbeplatz opened, it has housed two independent institutions, the Kunsthalle and the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen. Not merely externally different from all of the other museums in Düsseldorf, the Kunsthalle's conceptual direction is also distinct. Hosting an array of exhibitions, but without its own collection, contemporary art movements and positions, as well as their historical and local points of reference, were crucial to the Kunsthalle's program from the start. Pioneering shows were seen here, such as the series of "Prospect" exhibitions between 1968 and 1976, and so a number of international artists entered the European art market through the Düsseldorf Kunsthalle. It is the Kunsthalle's job to stimulate discussions and explorations of today's art, in its immediacy as well as in the context of current developments ­ meaning, a kind of art that is articulate, that enters into social discourse. Mediating contemporary art, revealing its roots and its continuity within the artistic discourse is of central importance.

At the end of the 1990s, Düsseldorf artists and citizens were successful in their efforts to retain the Kunsthalle. The building was temporarily closed for extensive renovation and modernization, which was carried out by the architectural team from rheinflügel. It has been open to visitors again since July 2002. Visitors are captivated by the inside of the building, thanks to its simple arrangement and the generous dimensions of its galleries. After renovation, the characteristics of these rooms were emphasized and optimized for presenting art. Discordant surfaces and technical additions were removed from floors, walls, and ceilings in favor of a new, smooth, glistening sheath that now hides installed technical equipment. The new lighting concept underscores the proportions of the rooms, and the façade of the entrance and the foyer zone, which extends from the ground floor to the second floor, once again fulfill the tasks of reception and orientation, as was foreseen in the original 1967 concept. The presence and form of the cashier's desk, bookshop, bar, and information desk have been designed to echo the cubist architecture of the Kunsthalle.

Under the new leadership of Dr. Ulrike Groos, the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf now carries on with its tradition. Even the opening show, "Zurück zum Beton ­ Die Anfänge von Punk und New Wave in Deutschland 1977-`82" (Back to Concrete ­ The Beginnings of Punk and New Wave in Germany, 1977-82) became a surprise hit with the public. A show by internationally renowned artist Dan Graham followed (at the time, the only one in the German-speaking world), and younger artists were also presented, such as in "Compilation I ­ Rosa Barba, Jeanne Faust, Jennifer Nelson."

Since its reopening, the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf's program makes it clear that international positions, Düsseldorf artists, new talents, and "big" names will all continue to find their place within the walls of this unique institution.



< back to Museum's profile