n De Arte - dOCUMENTA (13) : views and (re)views

Volume 2013, Issue 87
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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During the reconstruction of German cities and society in the early 1950s, artist and academic Arnold Bode proposed a big art exhibition in Kassel, 80 per cent destroyed during World War II, to signal Germany's recovery and return to artistic life after suffering the oppression and cultural darkness of the Third Reich. The beginnings of Documenta in 1955 were both modest, as an adjunct to a horticultural show, and groundbreaking, being a direct response to Entartete Kunst, the art deemed degenerate by Adolf Hitler. Since then the 100 days of Documenta have transformed Kassel from a traumatised space and place to one that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every five years. From its inception, Bode and participants like Joseph Beuys established a tradition that affirms freedom of expression, questions the place of art in society and privileges socially conscious artists and projects, while steering clear of the art market and art world tourism. Unlike many international blockbuster shows, Documenta gained a reputation for having a strong theoretical underpinning.

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