Hanne Darboven:
Mammoth Retrospective in Bonn and Munich

An ambitious project honoring an artist who is virtually larger than life: the Bundeskunsthalle (Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany) in Bonn and the Haus der Kunst in Munich are simultaneously devoting shows to Hanne Darboven (1941-2009). For the first time since the artist’s death, her work is on view in a comprehensive retrospective. At the center of both shows are the drawing and writing works characteristic of Darboven’s oeuvre, as well as early Minimalist material pictures. Other focuses include musical compositions and her little-known film works. In addition, wood constructions from the last three years of the artist’s life never shown hitherto will on display. As a special highlight, the double exhibition incorporates materials, found pieces, and collector’s objects from Darboven’s studio-cum residence in Hamburg – a virtually encyclopedic archive of things.

The museums in Bonn and Munich concentrate on different focal points. In an exhibition entitled Hanne Darboven. Zeitgeschichten (Hanne Darboven. Time Histories), the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany is showcasing works dealing with political events and German history. For its part, the Haus der Kunst is documenting Darboven’s interest in the world of ideas of the Enlightenment, showing the extensive series of works in which she engages issues from cultural history, music, literature, and the natural sciences.

A highlight in Munich is the reconstruction of the “music room” – a comprehensive exhibition of musical instruments that Darboven combined with private documents, small African sculptures, and her father’s hunting trophies. Originally, the room functioned as the living room of the family, who lived in Hamburg-Harburg and traded coffee and colonial goods over many generations. In Munich, for the first the “music room” will be exhibited completely and in a form enabling visitors to enter it.

The double retrospective traces the fascinating image of an artist who worked against loss and forgetting by reconstructing time through the laborious activity of writing and the inclusion in her work of important persons and a selection of everyday and historically significant events. In the course of the years, her obsessive occupation with numbers and data spawned a highly individual work: thousands of sheets of paper with notations of time scrawled upon them, her method of trapping the world’s chaos within a system of order.

Hanne Darboven has been prominently represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection since the early 1980s. In 2006, the Deutsche Guggenheim presented Hommage à Picasso, the last museum exhibition to take place during her lifetime. The fervent installation immersed the walls of the exhibition hall in a sea of numbers. The work consisted of nearly 10,000 sheets of paper in 270 custom-made frames on which Darboven scribbled notations calendaring the last decade of the 20th century. A group of life-sized wicker donkeys, a bronze goat, hand-painted ornamental frames: the handcrafted objects that Darboven placed alongside her columns of numbers recalled Picasso's formal language and his love of folklore and the "primitive.” At the same time, they imbued the room with a mixture of touching naivety and cultish mysticism. In her last museum show, Darboven found a spiritual and simultaneously cheerful form.

Hanne Darboven. Zeitgeschichten
Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn

Hanne Darboven. Aufklärung
Haus der Kunst, Munich

9/11/15 – 1/17/16