The large scale anniversary exhibition just what is it ... celebrates ten-years of the Museum of Contemporary Art in the bays 1 and 2 of the Hallenbau of the ZKM
presenting works from Cézanne and the expressionists through to Picasso, from Baumeister to Wols, from Pollock to Rothko, from Warhol and Beuys to Baselitz, Kiefer, Kippenberger, and Rehberger, so extensively laid out and of such high international renown.
On 4 December 1999, the Museum of Contemporary Art opened at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe with the goal of presenting key private collections from the German federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. This anniversary offers the occasion to present an exhibition showcasing the situation that found precisely here in Baden-Wuerttemberg is a concentration of private collectors and collectionsreaching beyond the circle of hitherto partners of the Museum of Contemporary Artunique throughout the federal states, with extraordinary inventories in terms of both quality and quantity. Nowhere else can be found private collections, from the classical modern through to contemporary art.
In celebration of its ten-year existence, the Museum of Contemporary Art has become a Temporary Museum of the Modern Era. One hundred years of art from the beginning of the twentieth century to the first decade of the twenty-first, is documented on the basis of first-class, privately owned seminal works in Baden-Wuerttemberg. In this way, important developmental lines of modernity and postmodernity can be shown. In the sense of a musée imaginaire, the Museum of Contemporary Art thereby becomes a site that enables an opulent overview of the currents and trends from the first decade of the twentieth century to the present.
just what is it ... is the beginning of the title of an incunable of Pop art: the famous collage by Richard Hamilton from 1956, which for one, can be seen on display in the exhibition, marking roughly the midpoint of the era covered. For another, just what is it ... serves as impulse for a sequence of wonderful associations that are offered to beholders at the various levels of this exhibition. From a cultural political point of view, too, this exhibition can be considered a highlight of the cultural year 2009/2010 in Baden-Württemberg, especially since it is under the patronage of Prime Minister of State Günther H. Oettinger.