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26 Jun 2011

Sprengel Museum Hannover

Opened in 1979, the Sprengel Museum Hannover, with its comprehensive Collection and diverse programme of temporary exhibitions, ranks among the major art museums of the 20th and 21st century.

The museum today builds on the original collection owned by Dr Bernhard Sprengel, who favoured German Expressionism and French Modern Art. The last 20 years have seen the Collection expand to include works from the most important epochs of contemporary art. Moreover, the Department of Photography and Media came into being in 1994. The museum holds on average 25 temporary exhibitions each year, numerous symposia and several different series of lectures. It also offers a comprehensive educational programme and since 1993 houses the Kurt Schwitters Archive. The Sprengel Museum thus provides a lively forum for art and art studies.

The Collection

The exhibits are organised thematically and not, as is sometimes the case, chronologically or alphabetically. Some of the movements on display include German Expressionism, French Cubism, post-war Abstract Art, Minimal Art, Informalism, Nouveau Réalisme, Conceptual Art and Post-Minimalism. Important recent additions have also been made to the collection to include photography and new media.

The organisation of the exhibitions is one of the exceptional qualities of the museum. Special mention must be made of the spaces devoted to individuals such as Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Léger, Max Ernst, Emil Nolde, Paul Klee and Max Beckmann.

The unique collection of works by Kurt Schwitters, and the one of a kind 'Cabinet of Abstraction' by El Lissitsky are the highlights of period from 1920 until the war. Other elements of the collection include notable groups of artworks by Hans Arp, Lyonel Feininger, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Emil Schumacher, Keith Sonnier and James Turrell, in which many of this century's most significant pieces can be viewed.

Another category which forms a bulk of the collection is devoted to classical Modern Art, composed primarily of paintings and sculptures from the first half of the century. Important artists' groups, such as 'Die Brücke' and 'Der Blaue Reiter', movements (Surrealism, Cubism) and personalities (Dix, Boccioni) are represented by a gamut of individual pieces. One of most individual characteristics of the museum are the rooms composed by an artist as an installation. The reconstructed 'Cabinet of Abstraction' by El Lissitzky and the recreation of Kurt Schwitters' Merz room provide two exceptional but very different types of spatial composition for the viewer. The new room featuring four light installations by James Turrell continues this tradition in a contemporary vein.

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