The second presentation from the MMK Collection focuses on our outstanding collection of works of American and European Concept Art from the 1960s to the present day. It follows on from "Yellow and Green", a show that centered on our Pop Art and Minimalist masterpieces.
Many of the work groups shown here are unique in terms of their scope and historical relevance, a perfect example being On Kawara's installation, created specially for MMK, consisting of 26 Today Paintings, various display-case objects and the Raucherraum (Smoking room). Our extensive group of works by Alighiero Boetti, that great Concept artist of the Italian Arte Povera movement, which is now on show once again after a long time is equally important, and internationally unparalleled in terms of its concentrated form. In the course of a little less than a decade, we succeeded in acquiring his key works, including the 199-part embroidered work Order and Disorder, I mille fiumi più lunghi del mondo and the large-format Tutto, which sets the artist apart from almost all others featured in our collection. We also for the first time present the 80-part portfolio Insicuro noncurante in this context, which can be considered to offer a highly focused retrospective of the artist's oeuvre.
A further highlight is the late Hanne Darboven's 900-page "Schreibzeit" (Writing Time) Ein Jahrhundert - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe gewidmet, which has been part of the MMK Collection since its opening year. Here, for the first time we will present this central work in connection with her musical work opus 25 A Ludwig van Beethoven, which she transformed into a minimalist composition in 1988 by transcribing the pure figures into musical notation.
Die Toten 1967-1993 by Hans-Peter Feldmann is also a work that demonstrates the diversity of conceptual art in the MMK Collection. This work, as emphatic as it is sensitive in historical terms, gives sober visual form to the story of the victims and perpetrators of the so-called Deutscher Herbst (German Autumn) with the help of images from the media. Incidentally, it is exclusive to the MMK collection at the express request of the artist.
Tony Conrad's Yellow Movies from 1973, which the Museum acquired only last year, are of critical significance and are to be considered a connecting element to Pop Art in the MMK Collection. They were first presented to a wider public only last summer at the Venice Biennial. Together with John Baldessari's early films 6 Colorful Inside Jobs and Paul Sharits' rarely seen Frozen Film Frames: N.O.T.H.I.N.G. of 1968, donated to the MMK Collection by Rolf Ricke, the Yellow Movies complement our group of radically experimental film works.
Some great examples in the MMK Collection of the special relationship between text and images, as emphasized by many conceptual strategies from the 1960s, are Lawrence Weiner's mural STONES FOUND AND BROKEN SOMETIMES IN THE FUTURE, specially created for the Museum, and the decidedly reflective piece by Rémy Zaugg, which can be described, for instance, by one of its picture titles: Stell Dir vor das Bild sieht Dich, aber Du selbst siehst es nicht (Imagine the picture sees you, but you cannot see it).
This presentation of Concept art will be complemented by works by the subsequent generation of artists, including David Hammons, Jonathan Borofsky, Rosemarie Trockel, Ai Wei Wei/Serge Spitzer, Francis Alÿs, Candida Höfer, Cady Noland and Rirkrit Tiravanija. One of our most prominent new acquisitions is the expansive "...rinsed with mercury..." created by the British artist Cerith Wyn Evans in 2009 and featuring a 25-meter-long band of neon letters illuminating an amalgam of poetic texts based on James Merrill's epic poem. A second work by Cerith Wyn Evans, a bare light bulb dedicated to one of the 100 brightest stars in the sky, corresponds to Vija Celmins' painted starry sky – one of the American artist's few key works to be found in a European museum collection.