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8 November to 21 December 1995
The Diözesanmuseum as Guest: Jannis Kounellis
The museum can only maintain its position as a legitimate place for art in the future if it is aware of the complexity of perception and if the receptivity to experience stands at the centre of attention. Following an invitation by the Cologne Kunstverein, the Cologne Diözesanmuseum is contributing to the exhibition “Palace of Art” with its own room. With a view to 20th century and contemporary art, the museum’s collecting activity since 1990 has focused on artistic discourses and positions which are able to enter into a Christian dialogue with the Church. The question formulated by art itself is: Which works of art accomplish this in the most impressive way and show with their independent picture language for and beyond their times the most radical paths to the transitory and the spiritual? Jannis Kounellis’ epochal work “Tragedia civile” from 1975 received much attention at the documenta 7 in 1982. It is a description of loss: A hat and a coat on a hat-stand symbolise the absence of the person having worn them and left them behind. The loss of human identity becomes – in front of this gold leaf wall which transfers the concrete room into an imaginary room – a loss of definite order. With its shining surface it evokes the recollection of medieval mosaics and paintings and with its emptiness, it leaves the observer on his own. It opens the imagination of the transcendence. The late Gothic relief “ecce homo” combines the public exhibition of Jesus Christ during the Passion with the authenticity of the “imago pietas”, the exhibition of the living dead Christ with the signs of his torture. The loss of human dignity serves as deterrence and invitation at the same time. On the stage of the “bourgeois tragedy” action is demanded of the observer.
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