Italian Sources for the Display of documenta 1955 in Kassel and an unrealised Reform of the Art Museum
- post-war recontruction,
- museum reform,
- art exhibitions,
- cultural transfer
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Copyright (c) 2023 Alexis Joachimides
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In an effort to rehabilitate modernism in the eyes of the mainstream art public, rebalancing its repression as ‘degenerate art’ during the ‘Third Reich’, the documenta 1955 was a singular attempt to redefine the cultural climate in post-war Germany. While the choice of artists and artworks was largely retrospective, their radically modern display in the provisional setting of a war-damaged historical museum building essentially contributed to its perception as an epitome of the ‘contemporary’. Until recently, the many accounts of this display have not conclusively identified the possible sources of this innovation. The paper discusses to what extend innovative Italian museum displays of the post-war reconstruction period were an inspiration for German exhibition designers. It also identifies how these sources were transmitted, and situates the temporary result within a discourse of museum reform during the 1950s.