The exhibition “Dawn of Humanity. Art in Periods of Upheavel” presents works of art from the Kunstmuseum Bonn’s collection of classic modernism which were created during the first two decades of the twentieth century and are now entering into dialogue with contemporary artistic positions. Common to the works of both epochs is that they arose and continue to arise in an era of profound social, political and interpersonal crises, and that they depict and contemplate this experience: back then the countless lives changed by the impact of the Industrial Revolution; today the ongoing transformation of our social interconnections in a grim confrontation with climate change and the exhaustion of the resources of our world. The beginnings of both the 20th and 21st centuries are marked by wars and violent conflicts threatening our very existence as well as by issues of identity and self-determination.
The title of the exhibition “Dawn of Humanity. Art in Periods of Upheavel” is derived from the same-named anthology of poetry by Kurt Pinthus from the year 1919, which organizes the expressionistic lyricism of the first two decades of the 20th century into four chapters: “Downfall and Outcry”; “Love Human Beings”; “Awakening of the Heart”; “Entreaty and Indignation”. The course of the exhibition follows these thematic orientations in an associative manner. Art is understood here as a means for investigating the world, as a medium of reflection which imparts new impulses to thought and thereby also achieves a social impact. The exhibition presents these crises and concomitant social upheavals from the standpoint of art which, as a catalyst for human reaction, not only questions and breaks up existing structures, but also engenders new perspectives and possible actions. Artworks from the two centuries are brought into relation or set in contrast with each other so as to give rise to a network of references and allusions along with dissimilarities and oppositions.
Nevin Aladağ, Francis Alÿs, Kader Attia, Yael Bartana, Rebekka Benzenberg, Monica Bonvicini, Andrea Bowers, Heinrich Campendonk, Louisa Clement, Max Ernst, Georg Herold, Franz M. Jansen, Alexej von Jawlensky, Käthe Kollwitz, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Max Liebermann, August Macke, Helmuth Macke, Goshka Macuga, Marie von Malachowski-Nauen, Carlo Mense, Zanele Muholi, Heinrich Nauen, Grace Ndiritu, Anys Reimann, Deborah Roberts, Daniel Scislowski, Paul Adolf Seehaus, Tschabalala Self, Monika Sosnowska, William Straube, Emma Talbot, Hans Thuar, Lawrence Weiner