In 1955 the first Documenta was held alongside the National Garden Festival. No one imagined back then that the exhibition would develop into the world's most important forum for contemporary art. Although the name "Documenta" stands for an all-encompassing vision, each of the 11 exhibitions to date has been unique, with its own aims and atmosphere. The history of Documenta reflects the last half century's diverse artistic and curatorial approaches, philosophies and forms of presentation, as well as a broad array of political and social currents. This two-volume publication looks into that history and the phenomenon of Documenta in several ways. Book 1 contains a richly illustrated review of 50 years of art in Kassel and the artworks that made history. In addition to essays on different aspects of Documenta and all previous exhibitions, young artists deal in their own ways with the abundance of material from the Documenta archives. Book 2 is devoted to well-known and less well-known works from 50 years of Documenta. These are works of art that were unfairly overlooked or were inappropriate for museum-like presentation or were simply ahead of their time.
Quiet, poetic, anarchic art - whatever was lost in the turbulence of cultural activities is seen here anew. The book contains about 200 works by 75 artists, including Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Marcel Broodthaers, Robert Capa, Stan Douglas, Walker Evans, Fischli & Weiss, Leon Golub, Ulrike Grossarth, Richard Hamilton, Eva Hesse, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Gerhard Richter, Paul Thek, Andy Warhol and Wols.
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