DOCUMENTA KASSEL 16/06-23/09 2007

d7 1982

Rudi Fuchs, the artistic director of documenta 7 in 1982, wanted to free art of the “various constraints and social parodies it is caught up in.” Nor should the exhibition be restricted by a theoretical concept. The works of art should be able to “show themselves unrestrainedly”. Fuchs emphasized the artist's individual nature, but nevertheless saw connections between the artists themselves, as well as recognizing their place in cultural tradition. He incorporated these ideas into his exhibition design which elucidated the works' interrelations and dialogs.

There was a clear museum-oriented character to d7. Fuchs and his assistants stressed that as they as “did not wish to present a nervous exhibition, but one which would do justice to the dignity of art, they had to create peaceful conditions.” The presentation of contemporary art – created by representatives of all generations – remained in the traditional realm of the museum that seeks to protect art from social reality. In the entrance hall to the Fridericianum, this objective was illustrated by James Lee Byars' golden column and Jannis Kounellis' golden wall: both demanded the return of art to something surrounded by mystique. This demand was also the subject of a work by Daniel Buren (“Pennant-Text-Music”), who set up an installation on the Friedrichsplatz featuring flagpoles and flapping pennants that incorporated taped classical music in order to make an ironic reference to the festivity of the occasion.

The classical genres of painting and sculpture featured strongly in d7. In the exhibition design Fuchs devised, artworks were not specifically arranged according to certain artistic styles, groups or geographical correlations, but followed very individual dialogs, attempted to exhibit underlying parallels or open conflicts. Consequently, paintings by A.R. Penck were displayed alongside sculptures by John Chamberlain, or Bruce Nauman was shown next to Keith Haring. By avoiding highlights and focussing clearly on specific topics, this analogizing principle – by dint of which works by the same artist were distributed over several storeys or buildings - resulted in what was succinctly illustrated by Lawrence Weiner's work on the Fridericianum's outer façade: “Many Colored Objects Placed Side by Side To Form A Row of Many Colored Objects .”

But the outstanding work of art at d7 was the work by Joseph Beuys positioned in the documenta grounds and that still lives on in Kassel today. For his sculpture “7000 Oak Trees” the artist had 7,000 basalt stele deposited on the Friedrichsplatz, where he also planted the first tree. In the subsequent 5 years, the remaining 6,999 trees were planted in Kassel – each was placed alongside one of the basalt stele – the last one on the opening day of d8 in June 1987 by Eva Wurmbacher-Beuys, the artist's widow. Beuys died in 1986.


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