The combination of these collections gives the Sprengel Museum Hannover the status of one of the most significant centres of modern art in the country. The exhibits are organised thematically and not, as is sometimes the case, chronologically or alphabetically. Some of the movements on display include German Expressionism, French Cubism, post-war Abstract Art, Minimal Art, Informalism, Nouveau Réalisme, Conceptual Art and Post-Minimalism. Important recent additions have also been made to the collection to include photography and new media.
The organisation of the exhibitions is one of the exceptional qualities of the museum. Special mention must be made of the spaces devoted to individuals such as Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Léger, Max Ernst, Emil Nolde, Paul Klee and Max Beckmann.
The unique collection of works by Kurt Schwitters, and the one of a kind 'Cabinet of Abstraction' by El Lissitsky are the highlights of period from 1920 until the war. Other elements of the collection include notable groups of artworks by Hans Arp, Lyonel Feininger, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Emil Schumacher, Keith Sonnier and James Turrell, in which many of this century's most significant pieces can be viewed.
Another category which forms a bulk of the collection is devoted to classical Modern Art, composed primarily of paintings and sculptures from the first half of the century. Important artists' groups, such as 'Die Brücke' and 'Der Blaue Reiter', movements (Surrealism, Cubism) and personalities (Dix, Boccioni) are represented by a gamut of individual pieces. One of most individual characteristics of the museum are the rooms composed by an artist as an installation. The reconstructed 'Cabinet of Abstraction' by El Lissitzky and the recreation of Kurt Schwitters' Merz room provide two exceptional but very different types of spatial composition for the viewer. The new room featuring four light installations by James Turrell continues this tradition in a contemporary vein.Painting and Sculpture
The Sprengel Museum Hannover's painting and sculpture collection is distinguished by its concentration on individual points of special interest. The museum can present comprehensive œuvre collections of selected artists such as Paul Klee, Hans Arp or Henri Laurens and of the Dresden "Brücke" and the "Blaue Reiter" groups. In this way the museum shows the many and various means of expression used by these artists as well as their artistic development. In many cases the collections also include extensive supplementary graphic material.
This collecting concept revolves around the work of the Hanover Merz artist, Kurt Schwitters. The Sprengel Museum Hannover possesses the most extensive collection of his work in the whole world. Besides numerous characteristic Merz drawings and pictures, the museum also displays some of the artist's early paintings and examples of his lifelong interest in landscape painting. However, central to this presentation is the reconstruction of the "Merzbau", which Schwitters always claimed was his life's work.
With the focus on Kurt Schwitters, the Sprengel Museum Hannover concentrates on further areas closely connected to the Hanover art scene in the 1920s. Among these are the representatives of the constructivist group "die abstrakten hannover", founded in 1927: Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, Carl Buchheister and Rudolf Jahns, but above all El Lissitzky. A that time, El Lissitzky lived in the city and designed the "Cabinet of Abstraction" for the art gallery, now known as the Provincial Museum. There is also a reconstruction of this in the Sprengel Museum Hannover. Apart from Otto Dix and Christian Schad the museum also devotes a special department within its permanent collection to the important representatives of the 'neue Sachlichkeit' (New Objectivity) then working in Hanover, such as Ernst Thoms, Grethe Jürgens or Erich Wegner.
Further areas of concentration on classic modernism are devoted to the work of the German Expressionists. There are extensive collections of the work of Emil Nolde and Max Beckmann and several works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, August Macke, Franz Marc, Alexei von Javlensky and Oskar Kokoshka. Surrealism is also represented, especially by the work of Max Ernst. Cubism, which so greatly influenced the development of 20th-century art, is represented by outstanding examples of the work of - above all - Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger.
Kurt Schwitters' "collage principle" was also the starting point for an expansion of the collection of contemporary art. Several works of the "Decollagists" and examples of the French "Nouveau Realisme" by Mimmo Rotella, Raymond Hains and Arman were purchased for the collection. Another area of concentration is the informal painting around in France and the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1950s. The artistic trends of the late sixties are also well represented. The museum has works, often on a large scale, by Sol Lewitt, Bruce Naumann or Ulrich Rückriem, and also examples of more recent work which follows on from these traditions.Photography and Media Department
Ever since its opening in 1979 the Sprengel Museum Hannover has regularly presented exhibitions of photography. Until 1992 these exhibitions were looked after by the honorary organizers of Spectrum, the museum's photo gallery, working as guest curators. In 1993 the Sprengel Museum Hannover set up a Photography and Media Department. Since then regular additions have been made to the photography and media collection and work has been done on the long-term collection of work groups of international photographers dating from the middle of the seventies onwards. Since then there have been numerous presentations of contemporary and historical photography. There have been one-man and one-woman shows by, among others, Judith Joy Ross, Nicholas Nixon, John Gossage, Stephen shore, Thomas Ruff, Heinrich Riebesehl, Gisèle Freund, El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodtschenko, each with a catalogue.
In 1992 Ann and Jürgen Wilde's collection was entrusted to the Sprengel Museum Hannover on permanent loan. This private collection, which comprises some 1500 original photographs, has already provided comprehensive exhibitions of the work of Albert Renger-Patzsch and Karl Blossfeldt, as well as collection presentations with August Sander, Florence Henri, Friedrich Seidenstücker, Duane Michals and David Hockney. In May 1999 the collection will be introduced with a large exhibition, accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue.
The Siemens Kulturprogramm collection, comprising some 600 photographs, which has been on permanent loan to the museum since 1993, has provided material for group exhibitions showing the work of, among others, William Eggleston, Sigmar Polke, Richard Prince, Louise Lawler and Christian Boltanski.
Large one-man exhibitions of contemporary photography were presented in 1995 in co-operation with the Museum of Modern Art, New York, with "Einheit" by Michael Schmidt and also in connection with the presentation of the Lower Saxony Foundation's Spectrum International Prize for Photography in 1995 to Robert Adams and in 1997 to Thomas Struth.In September 1999 the Spectrum Prize will be presented to the American artist John Baldessari.
In co-operation with the EXPO 2000 Hannover GmbH the Sprengel Museum Hannover, supported by Lower Saxony's Lottery Foundation, will present ten displays of international contemporary photography in the run-up to the World Exhibition, as part of the exhibition series "Über die Welt" (Concerning the World). On show will be new work by Ian Wallace, Canada, Rineke Dijkstsra, Netherlands, Boris Michailov, Ukraine, Fazal Sheikh, USA, Beat Streuli, Switzerland, Toshio Shibata, Japan, Jack Pierson, USA and three more photographers.
During the World Exhibition EXPO 2000 the Sprengel Museum Hannover in co-operation with the EXPO 2000 Hannover GmbH and supported by Lower Saxony's Savings Bank Foundation will present the large-scale exhibition "How You Look At It - 20th-Century Photographs".
Apart from these exhibition activities, in its permanent collection the museum combines photographs with other forms of art: Otto Dix and August Sander, Karl Blossfeldt and Hans Arp, Hilla and Bernd Becher, Donald Judd and Sol Lewitt, Nicholas Nixon and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ann and Bernhard Johannes Blume and Richard Deacon, Thomas Ruff, Henk Visch and Franz Gertsch can be cited as examples of presentations based on such interaction. With these activities the Sprengel Museum Hannover belongs to the small number of European museums of modern art which continuously treats photography as an art form to be exhibited, collected and integrated into its permanent collection.
- - verberg extra tekst