What remains from the 200 year jubilee of Badischer Kunstverein? Following intensive research into the history of the institution and the exhibitions, the question came up what had been addressed, and what still remained unexamined. As a kind of echo of the jubilee, a special aspect of the work of the Kunstverein was to be addressed: the history of the annual editions. Parallel to the members’ exhibition, it was only possible to present a small portion of the existing editions although it is precisely this somewhat ephemeral and flexible format that illustrates the various aspects of the program of the Kunstverein in a particularly significant way.
The result is an exhibition of nearly all of the still existent editions from the years 1842 – 2017, some of them presented now publicly again only after a very long time. Found among these works are a number of out-of-print or long-forgotten editions that were discovered during research for the 200 year jubilee or have been made available by our members for this presentation. Remarkable for example are portfolios containing Verein editions from the years 1904 – 1919, which have been made available from the private collection of Schloss Salem, among others the graphic work Marabu by Friedrich Barth. The exhibition also features works from the early context of the State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe, with for example works by Walter Conz and Hermann Kupferschmid. Also on view will be three outstanding print works by Karl Hubbuch, as well as editions by Otto Piene and a work by Wolf Vostell that was shown at the pioneering group exhibition Kunst und Politik (Art and Politics; 1970). The position of all of the works within the history of exhibitions is visualized on the basis of posters, catalogs, and documents; at the same time, the principle of the annual edition and its genesis are subject to critical examination.
For the first time, a Kunstverein examines the principle of the annual edition, so peculiar to the Kunstverein as an institution, through which works donated to the Verein by selected artists are made available or newly produced and offered for sale to members. The origin of the annual edition is hence closely intertwined with the genesis of the art market: once annually, the Kunstverein is infiltrated by the cycle consisting of the sale and purchase of artworks. Press attention to the annual editions of the Kunstvereine has grown markedly in recent years, with major articles in Die Zeit, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, and the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung presenting a cross-section of the works on offer from these institutions. At the same time, international art magazines are devoted to regular reports about the yearly offering of annual editions. Purchase conditions are enticing, since works can often be acquired for prices lower than those asked by the galleries, and, at last, works have been offered for sale not just to members, but for non-members as well – albeit with a surcharge.
A team consisting of art historians, art theorists, scenographers, and designers has addressed questions concerning the presentation and contextualization of the editions of Badischer Kunstverein. Developed for the presentation is a multidimensional exhibition structure that traverses all of the rooms of the Kunstverein. In order to elucidate new architectural and thematic contexts, this structure develops via the successive removal of surfaces, allowing raw materials to become visible. The variety of genres and media of the editions has grown over the past two centuries: from collecting folders to lotteries, and all the way to individually available editions and unica, the concept has undergone a development that parallels the programmatic concerns of the Kunstverein. The focus is in particular on historic works that are being reconsidered and repositioned from multiple perspectives via this exhibition.
Not only the editions have a long tradition; the salon discussions go all the way back to the founding of the Kunstverein in the early 19th century. In the framework of the series SAVE YOUR WEDNESDAYS, the salon tradition is revived. Every Wednesday during the exhibition, there will be a brief lecture, the discussion of an artwork, or a performative contribution associated with the exhibition and the concept of the editions.
Conception and execution of the exhibition and events: Anja Casser, Hubert Distel, Lizzy Ellbrück, Tiffany Justine Erndwein, Yvonne Fomferra, Hanna Franke, Hanne König, Malte Pawelczyk, Christina Scheib, Lisa-Kathrin Welzel