The new contemporary wing at the Städel Museum
En route to Kassel to visit Documenta 13 last month, a group of New Museum staff and supporters made a short detour to Frankfurt for a brief visit. Frankfurt may be better known as Germany’s financial and business center than a burgeoning art destination but the city claims a number of world-class institutions and collections that rival more celebrated German art locales like Berlin, Cologne, or Munich.
Our first stop was Tobias Rehberger’s studio. For over twenty years, Rehberger has worked in Frankfurt and taught at the prestigious Städelschule. His work in sculpture and installation transforms our relationship to everyday objects and radically reimagines the experience of public space. Taking us through his studio, Rehberger explained the challenges of managing a studio that employs sculptors, architects, and designers, and showed us a number of models and drawings for upcoming public commissions. The remarkable range of materials and the overall expansive vision of Rehbergers’s works made it clear why he has been such an important influence on the young artists who have studied with him over the years. We then stopped by Rehberger’s Frankfurt gallery, Galerie Bärbel Gräβlin, which was hosting a survey show of the artist’s varied work from the past two decades.
“the city claims a number of world-class institutions and collections”
The following day our group visited a number of collections and institutions. One of the highlights included a tour of the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) by the Deputy Director, Peter Gorschlüter. Gorschlüter took us through the exhibition he recently co-curated “Making History,” which focuses on contemporary photography and video, and is spread across several other venues across the city. It features large-scale works and installations by Thomas Demand, Gustav Metzger , and Jeff Wall, among others, that examine the use of photographic media in recording, manipulating, and rewriting historical events. Our final stop was the historic Städel Museum, where we visited the recent expansion which houses the museum’s collection of modern and contemporary art. Located beneath a field of undulating grass hills, the galleries are lit from a series of circular skylights. This unique architectural design includes an impressive number of artworks by both famous and lesser-known German artists—it’s an exciting complement to the Städel’s already renowned collection of Old Masters and Early Modern works, with pieces by painters like Cranach, Kirchner, and Beckmann. Even in a short and incomplete visit to Frankfurt, the city’s unique character and rich cultural resources made a lasting impression.