The most important examples of these historical exhibitions are »Masterpieces from the 15th – 20th Centuries« with works from Raphael to van Gogh from the museum in São Paulo, the world photography exhibition and an overview of Aristide Maillol’s oeuvre. Of central significance for the Kunstverein’s later direction and slant were to be the influential exhibitions of contemporary artists, such as Peter Brüning (1956), Jackson Pollock (1961), Gerhard Richter (1971) or the early projects of the Gruppe 53 (1956). The DAAD exhibition in 1958 organised by the Kunstverein together with Hanna Höch, Max Ernst und Man Ray was not only an event of international importance, but was also to provide a decisive impulse for the Fluxus movement, itself initiated in Düsseldorf. During the past decades the Kunstverein has made a name for itself with international solo exhibitions and themed group shows, here too with the focus clearly upon the search for salient trends and tendencies. In keeping with this long tradition, the scope for experiment and the space for new discoveries of pioneering positions are extremely important to us.
Since 1967 the Kunstverein and the Kunsthalle have shared the building designed by Konrad Beckmann and situated on the Grabbeplatz at the heart of Düsseldorf. The cuboid design of the building made from prefabricated concrete blocks is an incisive example of brutalist architecture. When the idea was floated towards the end of the 1990s that this structure should be demolished – a structure that is consciously at variance to the harmony of the surrounding buildings – artists and the townspeople of Düsseldorf successfully campaigned to retain it. Substantial reconstruction and modernisation have resulted in the restoration of the building to its original appearance and the re-accentuation of the design’s functional aspects.
The Kunstverein has use of a 360 sq metre hall in the upper storey with an adjacent foyer with a view of the Grabbeplatz. Both the Kunstverein and the Kunsthalle can use the so-named Emporensaal situated opposite in the upper storey communally.
Solo exhibitions are juxtaposed with themed group work, both of which posing thus questions about current artistic practice and its critical potential. Also on offer are communication platforms comprising talks, guided tours, films and publications that serve to supplement the programme and open up new vistas for thought and activity.