Friendship. Nature. Culture

44 Years of the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection
Works of the Collection 1920–2021

until August 21st 2022
Mercedes-Benz Contemporary
Digital archive

The anniversary exhibition ›Friendship. Nature. Culture. 44 Years of the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection‹ looks back on the development of an internationally renowned corporate collection. From over 3,000 artworks in the collection, founded in 1977, about 100 works by ca. 70 artists have been selected. Relating, in a broad sense, to contemporary phenomena in the context of friendship, nature and culture, the artistic works from a period of 100 years form networks and explore the interplay between art and human coexistence.

The exhibition shows a cross-section of the collection’s history from its beginnings in the tradition of South German Modernism, through abstract-minimalist approaches, and further to a current focus on international photography and media art. This multifaceted horizon of art history and the diversity of materials and media reflect the profile of the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection. At the same time, the orientation towards reduced, conceptual, and minimalist tendencies is perceptible throughout. Another focus of the collection’s development since 2000 has been on works by women artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The terms used in the title – friendship, nature, and culture – serve as points of connection to reflect on events and phenomena of our immediate present. Hannah Arendt gave her much acclaimed speech ›On Humanity in Dark Times‹ in 1959. In it, she formulated thoughts on the political dimension of the concept of friendship. She understands this as an actively lived and shaped relationship between people, which opens up a perspective on diverse and divergent points of view: it is about the friendship of the different. For Arendt, the essence of humanity lies in conversation. Against the backdrop of current trends of populism and increasing polarization, Arendt’s understanding of friendship prompts reflection on togetherness in times of social divisions.

Linked to this political charging of the notion of friendship are changing understandings of the concepts of nature and culture. In the context of the climate crisis and human influence, in both a negative and possible positive sense, it becomes apparent how intertwined human solidarity, nature, and culture are.

On the occasion of 44 years of the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection, the exhibition ›Friendship. Nature. Culture‹ brings works from painting, drawing, collage, video, photography, installation from the 1920s to the present into a cross-media dialogue. The exhibition, therefore, opens up different perspectives on artistic concepts of the aspects of friendship, nature, and culture as they have occupied art in a global perspective over the last four decades.

Curator: Renate Wiehager

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Artists

Events

  • -
    Guided Tour: Second-Order Art—Predacious Appropriation of Artistic Concepts
    Heba Y. Amin, John M Armleder, Sarah Morris, Rupert Norfolk, Timm Rautert, Anselm Reyle

    The guided tour through the closing section of the exhibition presents instances of reflexive receptions and reprocessing of names, motifs, styles and approaches from 20th and 21st century art—artistic practices recursive to what has already been made, whether it be an examination of architecture, via a predacious appropriation of artistic concepts, or an extension of the ready-made principle.

    A second guided tour takes place at 5 pm. Both tours are in German.
    Since the capacity is limited, please register at the reception before the tour. It is mandatory to wear a FFP2 mask.
  • -
    Guided Tour: From the Beginnings to the Present—A History of the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection
    Willi Baumeister, Maria Eichhorn, Jan Henderikse, Bethan Huws, Karin Sander, Oskar Schlemmer, Franz Erhard Walther

    Kaleidoscopically, the guided tour focuses especially on the cabinet-like area. This section shows a veritable 'mini-retrospective' of important styles and media for the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection and brings together works by around 30 artists from a period spanning 1923 to 2013. The cabinet presentation reflects the evolution of the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection, illustrating the development from classical Modernism to tendencies in abstraction to current, conceptual positions as an evolved thematic focus of the collection.

    A second guided tour takes place at 5 pm. Both tours are in German.
    Since the capacity is limited, please register at the reception before the tour. It is mandatory to wear a FFP2 mask.
  • -
    Guided Tour: Second-Order Art—Predacious Appropriation of Artistic Concepts
    Heba Y. Amin, John M Armleder, Sarah Morris, Rupert Norfolk, Timm Rautert, Anselm Reyle

    The guided tour through the closing section of the exhibition presents instances of reflexive receptions and reprocessing of names, motifs, styles and approaches from 20th and 21st century art—artistic practices recursive to what has already been made, whether it be an examination of architecture, via a predacious appropriation of artistic concepts, or an extension of the ready-made principle.

    A second guided tour takes place at 5 pm. Both tours are in German.
    Since the capacity is limited, please register at the reception before the tour. It is mandatory to wear a FFP2 mask.
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