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Pia Fries | Sprengel Museum

Pia Fries, labrador, 2002, oil and silkscreen on wood, 200 x 260 cm.
Photo: Werner Herling, Sprengel Museum Hannover.

In “The Adventure of Abstraction”, the Sprengel Museum Hannover is showing a significant part of its collection in the museum’s newly fitted rooms. The selection provides an overview of major manifestations of and developments in non-representational art from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. The starting point and focus of the tour are the reconstructions of El Lissitzky’s “Cabinet of the Abstract” (1927) and Kurt Schwitters’ “Merz Construction” (1933). Both rooms, which previously existed in Hannover, embody influential stages in abstract art and allow the visitor to directly experience the interplay of colour and form.

In addition to outstanding works by Schwitters and Lissitzky, Classical Modernism is represented by works by Piet Mondrian, Hans Arp and Paul Klee, among others. From the post-war period are works by, among others, Willi Baumeister, Pierre Soulages and K.O. Götz. These lead on to contemporary artists, such as Pia Fries, Pippilotti Rist and Wolfgang Tillmans. Awaiting discovery in the 18 rooms of “The Adventure of Abstraction” are a cabinet of graphic works, expansive media artworks and abstract films from the early days of the medium.


On the museum’s mezzanine floor, another area opens up that takes a look at Hannover artists and art from 1933 to 1945. Taking nine people as examples and tracing historical events, the exhibition illuminates the situation of art and artists under National Socialism and asks how the political conditions impacted on the institutions and artists’ lives and work, museum staff and collectors. Finally, we investigate the extent to which the Nazi past continues to affect the museum to this day.

Curator of “The Adventure of Abstraction”: Isabel Schulz

Curatorial assistant for “The Adventure of Abstraction”: Julius Osman

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