B1939. DIE ENTSTEHUNGSGESCHITE DES RICHARD-KASELOWSKY-HAUSES KUNSTHALLE DER STADT BIELEFELD (Henry de La Trobe). (German Text) Photos. Privately Printed, Hardbound, 1991. 96pp. Includes presentation letter by the Author]
The collection of the Kunsthalle Bielefeld, based on outstanding individual works, offers an exciting journey through art history from the late 19th century to the present, which can otherwise only be experienced in much larger museums. Because of the traditional lack of money and space, individual works were usually bought instead of groups of works by individual artists, their eclecticism is a defining characteristic of the Kunsthalle collection in the best sense of the word. It offers insights into artistic developments and their effects, into references and relationships, and it may offer the interested visitor some surprising insights and new insights.
With around 500 paintings, 200 sculptures and around 4,500 watercolours, drawings and prints, the Bielefeld collection is by far not as old as other city collections, which are often based on the legacy of princely collections. The first picture, number one in the collection inventory, the painting "Am Waldesrand" by the Munich painter Ludwig Dill from 1900, came to Bielefeld in 1905. In 1928 the first municipal art gallery was set up in the former villa of the Tiemann commercial councilor on Hindenburg- (today Alfred-Bozi-) Straße and the picture found its home there alongside a few others under the care of Dr. Heinrich Becker, honorary director of the new Kunsthaus. With his many years of commitment to art, Heinrich Becker is indisputably the founding figure of Bielefeld's art museum system. Becker's preference belonged to German modernism. His main focus was on developments since the late 19th century, with a focus on Expressionism and local artistic creation, as well as the work of Käthe Kollwitz. In 1954, Gustav Vriesen became the first full-time art historian to head the Kunsthaus in Bielefeld. His first purchases in 1955 and 1956 included two works that mark a brilliant start: With Max Beckmann's "Mother with a Playing Child", which Beckmann painted in Amsterdam in 1946, Vriesen brought in one of the most important German artists of the 20th century with a monumental main work from the immediate post-war period in the Bielefeld collection. With Willi Baumeister's early material picture "Three staggered figures, Ananke I» from 1920 was the first non-representational painting to enter the Kunsthaus collection. In 1956, Vriesen broadened his view of German art to include international developments with a focus on France, thereby giving the museum work in Bielefeld and the collection a new direction. He was succeeded in 1962 by Joachim Wolfgang von Moltke, who, as the founding director, helped to design the new Kunsthalle building and its programme. The choice of an American architect for the building also determined the demand for greater internationality in the collection, which was to be realized over the next few years and decades. American artists such as Frank Stella, Kenneth Noland, Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Martin also entered the collection, particularly under the direction of Ulrich Weisner from 1974 to 1994. But also with regard to German art, from the mid-1970s the focus of the acquisition policy shifted to contemporary positions, which also took into account the rising prices for modern art on the art market and the need for a museum for modern art to also look at its own time horizon to map. The following directors, Thomas Kellein and Friedrich Meschede, followed this motto by bringing the collection up to date.
Under the new museum management of Christina Végh, the view of the collection is updated several times a year, each time guided by different aspects.7