Situated on Schöne Aussicht and overlooking the park of Karlsaue, the Neue Galerie is home to the municipal and State art collections. From the Romantic-era landscape paintings of the 19th century to masterpieces of German Impressionism and works of contemporary art, the Neue Galerie invites its visitors to join an exciting dialogue of the eras. One of the gallery's areas of emphasis is the systematic acquisition of pieces of documenta art that has been in practice since 1982, using dedicated funds provided by the municipality of Kassel and the State of Hesse.
After the close of documenta 14 the museum is open once again, and visitors are invited to rediscover the collection of modern art: in the course of re-establishing the exhibition, it has been enlarged by about 50 new works, and new areas of emphasis have been created.
History of the New Gallery
The original museum was purpose-built as an art gallery between 1871 and 1877 from plans by architect Heinrich von Dehn-Rotfelser (1825 – 1885) to house the collection of paintings, already famous at the time, of Landgrave Wilhelm VIII of Hesse Kassel (r. 1730/51 – 1760).
Having been converted into a town palace during the French occupation under Jérôme Bonaparte (r. 1807 – 1813), the structure could no longer be used as an exhibition building afterwards. It was only on the initiative of Oberpräsident (i.e. Prussian governor) Eduard von Möller (1814–1881) that a new building modeled on Munich's Alte Pinakothek was eventually realised by the architect Heinrich von Dehn-Rotfelser (1825–1885).
The building was heavily damaged during WWII, and faced demolition for many years afterwards. It was only after both the Old Masters and the 18th-century art collections had been relocated to Wilhelmshöhe Palace, in 1962, that a rebuilding of the structure as a home for modern art could finally be tackled.
As part of a throrough reorganisation of the Museumslandschaft Kassel, the Berlin architectural practice of Staab Architekten was charged with the task of overseeing an extensive overhaul and modernisation of the building in the years 2006-2011. The removal of the collection of 18th-century art - works by the Tischbein and Nahl families of painters - to Wilhelmshöhe Palace has been among the most significant alterations to the museum's focus. Today the Neue Galerie specialises in showing regionally and internationally significant paintings, sculptures, and New Media from the 19th to the 21st century.
The art of the 19th century
Among the highlights of 19th-century art at the museum are works by Johann Martin von Rohden, by the Late Romantic artist Johann Wilhelm Schirmer, and by the Willingshäuser school of painters. The transition into the 20th century is marked by large collections of works by Neo-Impressionists Paul Baum and Curt Herrmann, both of whom had been engaging with the achievements of Impressionism in their own work early on. Further highlights of the Neue Galerie are works by Lovis Corinth, especially his masterful Walchensee landscape of 1921.
Click to access the inventory catalogue of 19th-century paintings (in german)
Classical Modern to documenta art
The modern era is represented by works by, among others, Alexej von Jawlensky, Henri Laurens, and Max Ernst. Further areas of emphasis are represented by paintings and sculpture from the post-war years, works of Pop Art and abstract paintings up to our time. Among them are works by the informal »Quadriga« group of artists, examples of monochrome painting, and magnificent works by Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Sigmar Polke, Hermann Nitsch, and Gerhard Richter.
Pieces acquired from the documenta exhibitions are especially rewarding. The collection has been enriched by top-class works of international contemporary art, among them "Goulimine" by Rupprecht Geiger, Michael Rakowitz’ much-lauded installation »What Dust Will Rise?«, Hito Steyerl's »Red Alert« and the walkable spiral "Isola" by arte povera artist Mario Merz. Recent acquisitions include the painting »vater kind kind« by Swiss artist Miriam Cahn and the installation »Music Room, Athens« by Nevin Aladağ, both participants of documenta 14.
Beuys in Kassel
The centrepiece of the collection is a room on the ground floor that was designed by Joseph Beuys himself on the occasion of the museum's inauguration in 1976. The installation comprises »The pack (Das Rudel)« (1969), four vitrines, 29 drawings and seven three-dimensional paintings. Originally displayed as a loan, the entire installation could be purchased in 1993 with the support of several trusts (Hessische Kulturstiftung and Kulturstiftung der Länder).
It is expressive of Beuys' »extended definition of art«: art has the power to transform society, always provided humans succeed in using their own creative potential.