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Information

The documenta archiv is committed to recording and preserving the “memory” of the documenta, one of the most important exhibitions on contemporary art worldwide.

Untere Karlsstr. 4, 34117 KasselPhone +49 56170727-3100Opening Hours Reading Room: Tuesday to Friday from 9.00 am til 4.00 pm, Thursday from 9.00 am til 7.00 pm

T h e d o c
u m e n t a
a r c h i v

The documenta archiv

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Imagefilm of the documenta archiv

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Mission Statement

Who we are

The documenta archiv is an institution for the preservation, documentation and scientific research of text and image based resources on modern and contemporary art. The principal task is the collection of the history of the documenta exhibitions. The archive was founded in 1961 and consists of comprehensive records of the documenta exhibitions. A scientific research library, extensive press, image and audiovisual collections form part of its holdings. Generous gifts and bequests complete our collection. The establishment of a center for curators’ estates is planned for the future.

Our mission

We are committed to recording and preserving the “memory” of the documenta, one of the most important exhibitions on contemporary art worldwide. This includes the preservation of materials collected during the documenta exhibitions, as well as the collection of relevant documentation such as publications, image and text materials. In its entirety these holdings echo central aspects of the history of the documenta, reflecting upon art, history, society and politics. As such, we safeguard and preserve this important cultural heritage, making them available to present and future generations of curators and scholars.

 

We are a scientific research institution. Entrusted materials such as archival and library holdings are secured according to recommended standards. We continually work to improve the documentation and digitization aiming to increase the digital and on-site access to our holdings. The results of our work are published in a timely fashion. We are dedicated to continuous development of our working methods looking to meet modern-day requirements of a knowledge-based society.

 

The documenta archiv provides research opportunities to patrons from around the world who seek information on documenta exhibitions and art of the 20th and 21st century – always under consideration of existing protective laws.  It is our mission to provide in-depth art historical, archival and research-specific support to our users. The combination of our archival collection and a specialized research library located at the heart of the documenta provides a unique research environment.

Our Goals

It is our goal, to play a pioneering role amongst archives focusing on art of the 20th and 21st century. We are dedicated to further our research related services and continue to expand online accessibility for international audiences. We aim to develop and strengthen our competency as a scientific research institution, providing and conveying knowledge - in cooperation with the University of Kassel - and envision an independent research institute, with its own projects and publications. Together with partners from the region, national and international arena we will raise our visibility and extend our existing network.

Our Target Audiences

We are sensitive to the needs of our target audiences, supporting them in their individual research endeavors by providing excellent service and scientific expertise on our part. In particular, we provide services to the following groups: documenta-Team, Fridericianum-Team, scholars of various disciplines, students, exhibition organizers, curators, artists, publicists, journalists, agents, publishers, interested citizens of the city of Kassel and pupils.

History

© documenta archiv

Archival record on the appointment of Lucy von Weihers as director of the documenta archiv at June, 1, 1961.

1961

At the meeting of the documenta society on January 17th, Arnold Bode (1900-1977) submits a paper, in which he states “Is the continuation of documenta necessary? […] Yes, but only with the condition that an institute or rather an archive is established, for one can’t improvise with the preparation of the third documenta as we had to for the first two. We suggest immediately establishing an administrative office and an archive backdated to January, 1st.” On June, 1st, the documenta archiv is founded as a municipal institution. It is Arnold Bode’s wish that art historian Werner Haftmann (1912-1999), his partner in the planning of documenta, would be appointed the director of the archive, however, the city chooses art historian Dr. Lucy von Weiher (1911-1969). The first location is the Landes- und Murhardsche Bibliothek (State and Murhard Library), with which the archive is affiliated.

© documenta archiv

Dr. Lucy von Weiher

Landes- und Murhardsche Bibliothek

1969–1973

After the death of Lucy von Weiher, the documenta archiv remains without scholarly guidance.


1973–1977

In 1973, Dr. Ela Spornitz is appointed as the director of the archive, which three years later becomes a department of the Cultural Office of the city of Kassel.
 

1978–1988

In 1978, Dr. Spornitz is succeeded by art historian Dr. Konrad Scheurmann (b. 1946), under whose leadership the archive is moved away from the Landes- und Murhardsche Bibliothek to the Kulturhaus am Ständeplatz in 1981. A digital archive of the artists is developed and a video collection is established.

© documenta archiv

Dr. Ela Spornitz

© documenta archiv / Frank Mihm

Dr. Konrad Scheurmann

1988/1989

After the departure of Konrad Scheurmann, the director position is vacant for a year. During this time, the documenta archiv is moved to Kulturhaus Dock 4 at Untere Karlsstrasse 4.
 

1989–1992

In 1989, the position is filled by art historian Dr. Hubertus Gaßner (b. 1950), who initiates the publication of a bibliographical journal in an international context. The establishment of an Artothek affiliated with the archive (1990), the acquisition of the estate of Arnold Bode, and the creation of an electronic library catalog also occur during his tenure.

© documenta archiv / Ryszard Kasiewicz

Dr. Hubertus Gaßner

1992/1993

After the departure of Hubert Gaßner, his deputy, art historian and librarian Karin Stengel (b. 1951), serves as acting director for a year, and in 1993 assumes the management function in full. Despite the small number of staff, the archive is able to participate in research projects in the years that follow and to employ additional staff through project funding. The focus during this time is on the digitization of text documents, images, and videos to be incorporated into a joint database.

© documenta archiv / Ryszard Kasiewicz

Karin Stengel

1997

The first presentable result of this entry into the digital age is the publication of a CD-ROM “documenta 1-9, Profiling Four Decades of Exhibition History”, in which documenta artists, their contributions to exhibitions and the various locations in the exhibition are linked.

2000/2001

The documenta archiv is part of “Vektor,” an international research project of the EU, and prepares the exhibition “Wiedervorlage d5,” which is shown in 2001 for the archive’s 40th anniversary in the art space of the art association at the Fridericianum. The first website of the archive is created and the library catalog goes online.

2003/2004

On the occasion of applying to be a cultural capital of Europe in 2010, the city of Kassel publishes a brochure that for the first time provides a programmatic presentation of an “Arnold Bode Center.” A new building on Friedrichsplatz is envisioned where the extended documenta archiv, all documenta institutions, and the “Stiftung 7000 Eichen” should be brought together as a documenta academy. In August 2003, Hessian Prime Minister Roland Koch (b. 1958) and the mayor of Kassel, Georg Lewandowski, visit the archive together. A donation from the Kassel Rotary allows a first pilot project for the digitization of the photographic collections and their presentation on the internet. The database European Art Net, a result of the “Vector Project,” goes online. The holdings of the archive are integrated into the international database “Virtual Catalogue for Art History (VKK)” (today: www.arthistoricum.net) and is available via the most important search platform for publications in the field of art history.

© documenta archiv / Ryszard Kasiewicz

Podium of the symposium "Wiedervorlage d5" in the "Evangelischen Akademie Hofgeismar" (l. to r.): Bazon Brock, Klaus Staeck, Hubertus Gaßner, Harald Szeemann, Georg Jappe

2005

For the 50th anniversary of documenta, the archive prepares a two-part exhibition in cooperation with documenta GmbH, which is presented at Museum Fridericianum. The documentary component, titled “archive in motion,” subsequently goes on a worldwide tour organized and funded by the IFA institute. The exhibition in Kassel is supplemented by a symposium in Hofgeismar. Due to renovation work, the documenta archiv must leave Dock 4 for nine months and is housed in the vacant library of the Bundessozialgericht (Federal Social Court) on Wilhelmshöher Allee in the interim.

2006 – 2008

Upon the return to the location on Untere Karlsstrasse, the “documenta table” is installed in the archive. The eleven-meter-long illuminated table (one meter for each year of documenta) was conceived during the preparations for the documenta anniversary and sent on a tour of Germany. A forerunner of the touch screen, it is possible to access texts and photographs of each documenta by touching the table surface, and receive background information regarding the exhibition. Due to a lack of space, the Artothek is annexed to the Kassel Municipal Library. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) provides funding for the project “Mediencluster documenta und Gegenwartskunst,” which enables the digitization and cataloging of images and press materials from documenta exhibitions 1 to 5, and allows the creation of a database for all media. The dedication of the archive of Harry Kramer (1925-1997) in the Aschrotthaus takes place on May 10, 2006. Through a gift from his widow, the estate of the documenta artist and former professor at the Kunsthochschule Kassel is made available to the public.

© documenta archiv / Ryszard Kasiewicz

The "documenta-Tisch" in the entrance area of the archive administration

2009/2010

The documenta archiv becomes part of the “mediaartbase.de” project together with the Kassel Dokumentarfilm- und Videofest (documentary film and video festival), the European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück, and the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe. The project’s objective is to digitize vulnerable videotapes and to make their contents searchable in a shared database. During this period, the discussion surrounding the creation of a documenta Center receives increased attention through the negotiations for the purchase of the Harald Szeemann Archive. New architectural plans garner a positive reaction from the city council. In January 2009, the library joins the Südwestdeutschen Bibliotheksverbund (SWB) among libraries in Dresden and Heidelberg that also house special collections significant to the field of art history. Its holdings are registered with the “ZDB” periodicals database, becoming integrated into the national and international library network.

2011

The documenta archiv celebrates its 50th anniversary with a celebratory event and a concert by performance artist Laurie Anderson (b. 1947) at the Staatstheater Kassel. The performance is supplemented by a symposium in Hofgeismar. The purchase of the Szeemann Archive is not successful, and it is instead acquired by the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. The continuation of the project “Mediencluster documenta und Gegenwartskunst,” which involves the further digitization and description of the image and press holdings of the archive for documenta 6 through documenta 12, is approved by the DFG in the area of image collection for the time period 2011 to 2014.

2012

An additional project to index older holdings of the documenta archiv is also approved by the DFG. The city of Kassel commissions a feasibility study to assess the former bank offices on Ständeplatz as a potential location for an expanded archive, and, along with various architecture competitions, perpetuates public discussion of the future status of the institution.

2013

In February/March of 2013, an archival exhibition about documenta 5 and 6 entitled “The End(s) of the Library: Elective Affinities” is created in a collaboration with the rector of the Kunsthochschule, Christian Philipp Müller (b. 1957), and shown at the Goethe Institute in New York. Starting in the winter semester of 2013, the state of Hesse begins hosting a two-year “documenta professorship” at the Kunsthochschule in Kassel, which is filled by the art historian Dorothea von Hantelmann (b. 1969), who works closely with the documenta archiv. Karin Stengel retires in June of 2013, and is succeeded by art historian Dr. Gerd Mörsch (b. 1975) three months later.

© documenta archiv / Eberhard Weible

Dr. Gerd Mörsch

2014

The documenta archive and its future are explicitly mentioned as tasks in the new Hessian coalition agreement. Gerd Mörsch establishes the “Meine documenta” contemporary witness project, which is conducted in cooperation with Offenes Kanal Kassel. In October of 2014, Marlies Rosa Hillmann bequeaths to the archive the estate of her husband Hans Hillmann (1925-2014), documenta artist and professor at the Kunsthochschule Kassel, along with a donation to ensure its development. One month later, the documenta archiv is awarded the Hessian Archive Prize.

© documenta archiv / Ryszard Kasiewicz

The two contracts of the cooperation treaty between the city of Kassel and the State of Hesse

2015

On July 15th, 2015, the city of Kassel and the state of Hesse sign a cooperation agreement, designating the documenta archiv as part of the documenta and the Museum Fridericianum gGmbH. The budget will be adjusted accordingly in order to advance its expansion as an independent institution. In December of 2015, Gerd Mörsch leaves the documenta archiv.

2016

With the historian Martin Groh (born 1963) as director of the documenta archiv, the organizational and structural reorganization begins under the auspices of documenta gGmbH. On 1 July, the art historian and archivist Dr. Birgit Jooss (b. 1965) begins her work as the new archive director. The Technik-Museum Kassel takes on the technical refurbishment of the documenta table in order to present it to the public in the permanent exhibition. With the screening of a “Film, der nie gedreht wurde“ (“film that was never made”) for the first documenta exhibition, the new series of events “aus dem documenta archiv” (“from the documenta archive”) commences in October. On November, 10th, the federal budgetary committee approves the financial participation of the federal government to the amount of 12 million Euros in the creation of a documenta Institute, with the condition of adequate co-financing from the city of Kassel and the state of Hesse.

© documenta archiv / Ryszard Kasiewicz

Dr. Birgit Jooss

2017

The documenta archive is present as a main lender and co-​operation partner of the Institute for Arts and Media Management of the Freie Universität Berlin and the Institute for Art Administration and Education of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Beijing in a large exhibition on the history of the documenta in Beijing and Shanghai. In March, the corporate identity of the documenta archive, which was developed together with the communication design office L2M3 in Stuttgart, will be presented.

Publication Series

Nr. 29

Kimpel, Harald: documenta persönlich. Weitere Erinnerungen an die Weltkunstausstellung, Weimar: Jonas Verlag, 2018. 144 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-89445-549-1 | 20,00€

Nr. 28

Siebenhaar, Klaus: documenta. A brief history of an exhibition and its contexts, Berlin/Kassel: B&S Siebenhaar Verlag, 2017. 173 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-943132-64-9 | 18,00€

Nr. 27

Kiel, Benjamin und Jelena Toopeekoff: Die Rezeption der Philosophie Ludwig Wittgensteins in der zeitgenössischen Kunst, Kassel: kassel university press GmbH, 2016. 257 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-7376-5000-7 | 34,00€

http://www.upress.uni-kassel.de/katalog/abstract.php?978-3-7376-5000-7

Nr. 26

Schwarze, Dirk: Im Schatten der documenta. Kritiken und Aufsätze zu Kunst, Berlin/Kassel: B&S Siebenhaar Verlag, 2015. 197 Seiten, ISBN: 978-3-943132-32-8 | 16,80€

Nr. 25

Sadr Haghighian, Natascha, Pola Siverding und Japser Kettner (Hrsg.): trail. Project realized for dOCUMENTA(13) – 9 june until 16 september 2012, Leipzig: Spector Books, 2015. 253 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-95905-013-5 | 28,00€

Nr. 24

Eppert, Anja: Die documenta und der öffentliche Raum. Eine Darstellung anhand ausgewählter künstlerischer Arbeiten, ihrer Wirkungen und Wechselwirkungen im historischen Kontext, Kassel: kassel university press GmbH, 2014. 243 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-86219-530-5 | 24,00€

Nr. 23

Hoffmann, Katja: Ausstellungen als Wissensordnungen. Zur Transformation des Kunstbegriffs auf der documenta 11, Bielefeld: Transcript, 2013. 497 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-8376-2020-7 | 39,80€

Nr. 22

Stengel, Karin (Hrsg.): Delusion: Laurie Anderson, Kassel 2012. 83 Seiten
17,50€

Nr. 21

Kimpel, Harald (Hrsg.): documenta emotional. Erinnerungen an die Weltkunstausstellungen, Marburg: Jonas Verlag, 2012. 127 Seiten, ISBN: 978-3-89445-461-6 | 20,00€

Nr. 20

Stengel, Karin (Hrsg.): ... nach der documenta. 50 Jahre documenta Archiv für die Kunst des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts, Berlin: B&S Siebenhaar Verlag, 2011. 104 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-936962-18-5 | 12,80€

Nr. 19

Stengel, Karin, Heike Radeck und Friedhelm Scharf (Hrsg.): documenta zwischen Inszenierung und Kritik. 50 Jahre documenta, Hofgeismar: Evangelische Akademie Hofgeismar, 2007. 173 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-89281-252-4; 3-89281-252-7 | 10,00€

Nr. 18

Schwarze, Dirk: Die Kunst der Inszenierung: oder Als Arnold Bode Ernst Wilhelm Nay in den Himmel hob, Berlin: B&S Siebenhaar Verlag, 2009. 89 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-936962-78-9 | 10,80€

Nr. 17

Kimpel, Harald, Stengel, Karin: documenta 4. 1968. Internationale Ausstellung. Eine fotografische Rekonstruktion, Bremen: Edition Temmen, 2007. 222 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-86108-524-9 | 29,90€

Nr. 16

Georgsdorf, Heiner (Hrsg.): Schriften und Gespräche. Arnold Bode, Berlin: B&S Siebenhaar Verlag, 2007. 327 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-934189-75-1 | 34,80€

Nr. 15

Schirmer, Gisela: DDR und die documenta. Kunst im deutsch-deutschen Widerspruch, Berlin: Reimer Verlag, 2005. 176 Seiten
ISBN: 3-496-01338-9 | 24,90€

Glasmeier, Michael, Stengel, Karin u.a. (Hrsg.): 50 Jahre / years documenta 1955 – 2005. Kunsthalle Fridericianum Kassel, 1. September - 20. November 2005 / Texte deutsch und englisch. 1. Archive in motion, 415 Seiten / 2. Diskrete Energien, 239 Seiten, Göttingen: Steidl, 2005.
ISBN: 3-86521-146-1 |38,00€

Nr. 12

Kimpel, Harald, Stengel, Karin: documenta 3. 1964. Internationale Ausstellung. Eine fotografische Rekonstruktion, Bremen: Edition Temmen, 2005. 332 Seiten
ISBN: 3-86108-528-3 | 14,90€

Nr. 11

Weyel, Eberhard: Museum für Reproduktion (Musée Benjamin) im documenta Archiv, Kassel: documenta Archiv, 2005. 56 Seiten
ISBN: 3-9808746-1-3 | 9,80€

Nr. 10 

Kimpel, Harald (Red.): 1982 - 2002, 20 Jahre Joseph Beuys
7000 Eichen - Stadtverwaldung statt Stadtverwaltung, Kassel: Stadt Kassel, 2003. 48 Seiten
ISBN: 3-9808746-0-5 | vergriffen

Nr. 9

Radeck, Heike, Stengel, Karin, Scharf, Friedhelm (Hrsg.): Wiedervorlage documenta 5 [Dokumentation einer Tagung der Evangelischen Akademie Hofgeismar], Hofgeismarer Protokolle 324, Hofgeismar: Evangelische Akademie, 2002. 86 Seiten
ISBN: 3-89281-233-0 | 5,00€

Nr. 8

Nachtigäller, Roland, Scharf, Friedhelm, Stengel, Karin (Hrsg.): Wiedervorlage d5. Eine Befragung des Archivs zur documenta 1972 – eine Ausstellung des Kulturdezernats / documenta Archivs im Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, 3. November – 30 Dezember 2001, Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2001. 247 Seiten
ISBN: 3-7757-1121-X |29,90€

Nr. 7

Kimpel, Harald, Stengel, Karin: documenta 2. 1959. Kunst nach 1945. Internationale Ausstellung. Eine fotografische Rekonstruktion, Bremen: Edition Temmen, 2000. 176 Seiten
ISBN: 3-86108-523-2 |22,90€

Nr. 6

Stehr, Werner, Kirschenmann, Johannes (Hrsg.): Materialien zur documenta IX. Ein Reader für Unterricht und Studium, Ostfildern-Ruit: Cantz, 1997. 230 Seiten
ISBN: 3-89322-921-3; 3-89322-912-4 | vergriffen

Nr 5

Kimpel, Harald: documenta: Mythos und Wirklichkeit, Köln: DuMont, 1996. 416 Seiten
ISBN: 3-7701-4182-2 | 11,80€

Nr. 4

Stengel, Karin, Nachtigäller, Roland, Hinck, Petra, Malec, Antje (Red.): Künstlerindex zur documenta IX. Mit einem Beitrag von Jan Hoet Ostfildern: Cantz, 1995. 62 Seiten
ISBN: 3-89322-750-4 | 10,00€

Nr. 3

Kimpel, Harald, Stengel, Karin: documenta 1955. Erste Internationale Kunstausstellung. Eine fotografische Rekonstruktion, Bremen: Edition Temmen, 1995. 159 Seiten
ISBN: 3-86108-514-3 | 22,90€

Nr. 2

Lemke, Inga: documenta-Dokumentationen. Die Problematik der Präsentation zeitgenössischer Kunst im Fernsehen – aufgezeigt am Beispiel der documenta-Berichterstattung der öffentlich-rechtlichen Fernsehanstalten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1955-1987, Marburg: Jonas-Verlag, 1995. 196 Seiten
ISBN: 3-89445-187-4 | vergriffen

Nr. 1

Gaßner, Hubertus, Kopanski, Karlheinz, Stengel, Karin (Hrsg.): Die Konstruktion der Utopie. Ästhetische Avantgarde und politische Utopie in den 20er Jahren, Marburg: Jonas-Verlag, 1992. 224 Seiten
ISBN: 3-89445-123-8 | vergriffen

Literature

Eichel, Hans: 60 Jahre documenta. Die lokale Geschichte einer Globalisierung, Berlin 2015

 

Epper, Anja: Die Documenta und der öffentliche Raum: eine Darstellung anhand ausgewählter künstlerischer Arbeiten, ihrer Wirkungen und Wechselwirkungen im historischen Kontext, Kassel 2014

 

Glasmeier, Michael und Karin Stengel (Hrsg.): 50 Jahre/Years documenta 1955–2005. Archive in motion, Göttingen 2005

 

Grasskamp, Walter: Mythos documenta – ein Bilderbuch zur Kunstgeschichte. In: Kunstforum International Bd. 49, Köln 1982

 

Kimpel, Harald: documenta. Mythos und Wirklichkeit, Köln 1999

 

Kimpel, Harald: documenta. Die Überschau, Köln 2002

 

Kimpel, Harald (Hrsg.): Documenta emotional: Erinnerungen an die Weltkunstausstellungen, Marburg 2012

 

Kimpel, Harald: UTOPIEdoumenta. Unverwirklichte Projekte aus der Geschichte der Weltkunstausstellung, Wien 2015

 

Kirschenmann, Johannes und Florian Matzner (Hrsg.): Documenta Kassel, Skulptur Münster, Biennale Venedig, München 2007

 

Leitner, Katrin: Lesezeich(n)en: Zappen und Clustern im documenta Archiv [ein Ausstellungsprojekt: 6.9.2014 – 31.3.2015], Kassel 2015

 

Museumslandschaft Kassel: Standortuntersuchung documenta-Zentrum (1. Zwischenbericht), Kassel 2007

 

Nachtigäller, Roland, Friedhelm Scharf und Karin Stengel: Wiedervorlage d5. Eine Befragung des Archivs zur documenta 1972, Kassel/Ostfildern 2001

 

Nemeczek, Alfred: Documenta, Hamburg 2002

 

Schwarze, Dirk: Meilensteine: die documenta 1 bis 13: Kunstwerke und Künstler, Berlin 2012

 

Schwarze, Dirk: Die Karriere einer Ausstellung – 60 Jahre documenta. In: Hessische Landeszentrale für politische BIldung. Blickpunkt Hessen, Wiesbaden 2015

 

Stengel, Karin: ... nach der documenta: 50 Jahre documenta Archiv für die Kunst des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts, Berlin 2011

 

Tomm, Anna-Katharina: documenta-Zentrum, Diplomarbeit, Kassel 2004

 

Westecker, Dieter: documenta-Dokumente 1955–1968, Kassel 1972

 

Weyel, Eberhard: Museum für Reproduktion (Musée Benjamin) im documenta Archiv, Kassel 2005

documenta gGmbH

The documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH is a non-profit organization financed by the City of Kassel and the State of Hesse with the support of the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

It consists of four institutions: the current documenta exhibition, the Museum Fridericianum, the documenta exhibition hall and since January, 1st 2016 also the documenta archiv