Among the holdings of the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main is an important collection of outstanding works of minimal art of the 1960s and '70s. In a major survey featuring nearly fifty artists, the MMK is now presenting the masterworks of this collection comprehensively for the first time.
The unique group of works by American minimalists of the early 1960s made its way into the museum when the city of Frankfurt purchased the former Karl Ströher collection in 1981. An acquisition of 2006, now of the works amassed by the former gallery owner and collector Rolf Ricke, further enhanced the MMK holdings with outstanding examples of post-minimalism.
Seriality, conceptuality and industrial production were the new principles pursued by the minimalists Carl Andre, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Fred Sandback, who revolutionized art in the 1960s with their radical works. For the first time in the history of art, they used industrially manufactured or processed materials and reduced their works to basic geometric structures they termed "primary structures". With this title, the presentation at the MMK 2 also makes direct reference to the very first exhibition of minimal art – the trailblazing show of the same name staged at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1966. Walter de Maria's key work Cage of 1965 – today in the MMK collection – was on view in that exhibition.
The MMK show will get off to a start with the reconstruction of two historical installations that – originally presented at the legendary Heiner Friedrich gallery in Munich in 1968 – mark the beginning of the reception of minimal art in Germany: Carl Andre's floor sculpture "22 Steel Row" and Dan Flavin's light installation "Two Primary Series and One Secondary". The two artists designed the works especially for the tripartite space offered by the Munich gallery. During the first half of the exhibition the MMK 2 featured the reconstruction of Carl Andre's floor sculpture, currently the work by Dan Flavin is installed. Carl Andre's "35 Timber Line" (1968) will be on view in an MMK exhibition for the very first time. The work has belonged to the holdings since the museum's opening in 1991, but for reasons of space has never been placed on display. After so many years in storage, the 35-metre work will now finally celebrate its MMK premiere in the spacious facilities of the MMK 2 within the context of the exhibition "Primary Structures".
In addition to masterworks by the most important exponents of minimalism in 1960s U.S.A. and Germany, the MMK 2 will also present examples by members of younger generations, whose installations – many quite large in scale – bear a strong relationship to the minimalist current. Among these artists are Jo Baer, Bruce Nauman, Robert Barry, Robert Mangold, Charlotte Posenenske, Peter Roehr, Lewis Stein and William Forsythe, but also and above all their successors, for example Michael Beutler, Benedikte Bjerre, Ceal Floyer, Teresa Margolles, Sarah Morris, Santiago Sierra or Jonas Weichsel.
Michael Beutler's work "Outdoor-yellow 13" (2004) will conclude the show in the main lobby of the TaunusTurm. There visitors will encounter huge, bright yellow sculptures made of "Pecafil", a material typically used in the building industry. Beutler releases it from its serviceability as a building material, however, assigning it a sculptural value of its own instead. And he has changed and expanded his work in response to the unusually high exhibition space. In view of its industrially predetermined primary colour and its materiality, Beutler's installation likewise draws on the concepts of minimal art.
Artists oft he exhibition: Carl Andre, Richard Artschwager, Jo Baer, Bernd und Hilla Becher, Michael Beutler, Benedikte Bjerre, Alighiero Boetti, Bill Bollinger, George Brecht, Marcel Broodthaers, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Ceal Floyer, William Forsythe, Günther Förg, Isa Genzken, Hermann Goepfert, Bethan Huws, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Ellsworth Kelly, Joseph Kosuth, Gary Kuehn, Barry La Va, Robert Mangold, Teresa Margolles, Sarah Morris, Bruce Nauman, Kenneth C. Noland, Blinky Palermo, Steven Parrino, Angelika Platen, Charlotte Posenenske, Timm Rautert, Peter Roehr, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Ulrich Rückriem, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandback, Richard Serra, Paul Sharits, Santiago Sierra, Andreas Slominski, Lewis Stein, Heide Stolz, Franz Erhard Walther, Jonas Weichsel und Lawrence Weiner