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The Luminous West

A site assessment of the art landscape in the Rhineland

10.07. - 23.10.2010

THE LUMINOUS WEST – one of the Kunstmuseum Bonn’s largest exhibition projects ever – brings 33 artists from two generations together in a total of 3500 m2 of exhibition space to achieve a broad-based definition of where the art landscape of the Rhineland and North Rhine-Westphalia stands. In connection with the large annual festivals, Kulturhauptstadt Europa Ruhr.2010 (European Capital of Culture) and the Quadriennale 2010 in Düsseldorf, the show marks the southern stop, so to speak, of a Grand Tour through the Rhenish art and culture scene in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Departing from a historical core, embodied by Joseph Beuys, Imi Knoebel, Blinky Palermo, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, THE LUMINOUS WEST first introduces the major artists of the older generation with their respective new works.  In turn, these works are then connected with central positions in the art of the younger artists in order to achieve an overall show with 33 participants. The intention is expressly not to attempt an exhaustive overview, but rather a deliberate selection, so as to heighten the profile of the exhibition as well as the region. 

THE LUMINOUS WEST differs from earlier exhibitions dedicated to art from the Rhineland and/or from North Rhine-Westphalia firstly in its combination of historical and current perspectives, and secondly, in its twofold curatorial goals: The selection of the older generation was made by the academic team at the Kunstmuseum (Volker Adolphs, Stephan Berg, Stefan Gronert, Irene Kleinschmidt-Altpeter, Sabina Leßmann and Christoph Schreier). By contrast, the younger generation was selected by the artists that had already been chosen. This division of curatorial responsibility between art historians and artists views itself as a deliberate signal for laying to rest the specter of the omnipotent curator and as an acknowledgment of the primary achievements of the artists.

Analogous to the collecting concept of the Kunstmuseum Bonn, the participants are not presented in the exhibition with individual works, but rather with entire rooms. In addition to the “historical” core mentioned above, in terms of trailblazing positions, the team at the Kunstmuseum also selected the following representatives of the older generation: Bernd and Hilla Becher, Anna and Bernhard Johannes Blume, Tony Cragg, Isa Genzken, And­reas Gursky, Georg Herold, Jürgen Klauke, Marcel Odenbach, Albert Oehlen, Ulrich Rückriem, Tho­mas Schütte, Katharina Sieverding, Rose­ma­rie Trockel and Timm Ulrichs. These artists have suggested 14 younger artists, who, in their opinions, have the potential to further develop, respectively develop anew, the impressive artistic legacy of the Rhineland in a way that is productive for the future.  Specifically, these are: Thomas Arnolds, Martina Debus, Simon Denny, Chris Durham, Claudia Fährenkemper, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, David Hahlbrock, Benjamin Houlihan, Bernd Kastner, Christian Keinstar, Erinna König, Gereon Krebber, Ursula Neugebauer and Michail Pirgelis. Ideally, THE LUMINOUS WEST may thus become a measuring stick of the artistic legacy of the Rhineland as well as a design for its future in art.

The extensively illustrated catalogue of around 430 pages contains a basic main text by Jürgen Harten, essays on the art landscape in the Rhineland, respectively in North Rhine-Westphalia, by Barbara Engelbach, Douglas Fogle, Günter Herzog and Catrin Lorch, as well as short entries on all participating artists.

This exhibition is generously supported by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Kunststiftung NRW, the Landschaftsverband Rheinland and the Stiftung Kunst der Sparkasse in Bonn. The art magazines MONOPOL and K.WEST are media partner for the exhibition.

Opening: 9th of July, 8pm