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20 Years of Presence: The Big Anniversary Exhibition at MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst
Ai Weiwei/Serge Spitzer, Ghost Gu Coming Down the Mountain, 2005/06.

FRANKFURT.- Twenty years after its opening in June 1991, the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt am Main is among the world’s most prominent museums of contemporary art. In its young history, the MMK has assembled a unique collection meanwhile comprising more than 4,500 works of international art dating from the 1960s to the present. With the exhibition “MMK 1991–2011: 20 Years of Presence” (19 Jun – 9 Oct 2011), the museum is celebrating its anniversary in several locations at once: in the MMK building, in the annexed MMK Zollamt, and at the MainTor-Areal – a former office building on the bank of the River Main in Frankfurt.

By thus multiplying its exhibition space, the MMK is – for the first time in its history – in a position to feature more than 150 artists in an extensive presentation of some 1,000 works. “The largest exhibition in the history of the MMK is an impressive demonstration of the treasures the museum has amassed here in Frankfurt over the past two decades. This much MMK has never been on view in an exhibition,” comments Prof. Dr. Felix Semmelroth, Deputy Mayor in Charge of Culture of the City of Frankfurt am Main.

Thanks to its partnerships with the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe (DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale, Helaba Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen, Sparkassen-Kulturfonds des Deutschen Sparkassen- und Giroverbandes) and the Frankfurt real estate investor DIC – the owner of the MainTor-Areal (the former Degussa facilities) – and generous support from the Department of Culture of the City of Frankfurt as well as entrepreneur Stefan Quandt, with its anniversary exhibition at the MainTor- Areal the MMK is taking up temporary quarters on Frankfurt’s Main riverbank. The museum has thus gained an additional venue for the presentation of its collection in Frankfurt until 9 October. “With this exhibition we want to make the impossible possible in our anniversary year – by presenting our visitors the MMK collection in an overview exhibition the likes of which have never before been seen. It is only thanks to our generous sponsors that we have been able to realize this ambitious project,” says MMK director Dr. Susanne Gaensheimer.

Spread over seven floors and 4,000 square metres, the exhibition in the MainTor-Areal is displaying a cross-section of contemporary art in a provisional open depot. Major works by Hanne Darboven, Thomas Demand, Charlotte Posenenske, Nam June Paik and Andreas Slominski are on view along with more recent perspectives in contemporary art, seen in pieces by Cyprien Gaillard, Tue Greenfort, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Sarah Morris, Tomas Saraceno and others. Works never previously shown in the MMK, by such artists as Holger Bunk, Michel Majerus and Wilhelm Sasnal, further broaden the spectrum.

In a number of exhibition rooms, the spatial structure of the former offices is still largely discernible. Elsewhere in the building the internal walls have been removed to create large display spaces for such works as Stephan Balkenhol’s 57 Pinguine (57 Penguins) and the vase installation Ghost Gu Coming Down the Mountain by Ai Weiwei and Serge Spitzer. For paintings or delicate works on paper, like those by Thomas Bayrle or Christian Boltanski, however, offices have been turned into small “cabinet”-style galleries.

Other pieces also enter into suspenseful symbiosis with the MainTor architecture, for example Marcel Odenbach’s large-scale video installation being shown in what was once a sports hall for employees, or Tobias Rehberger’s café Montevideo, Milan, New York, Moscow, Dubai, Singapore, São Paulo and Tokyo for which former offices have been converted. The temporary museum cafeteria 96 COMMISARY provides access to a 600-square-metre roof terrace where visitors can relax while enjoying a view of the Main. Ata Macias, manager of Club Michel, Bar Plank and the house club Robert Johnson, and Simon Horn, cook and manager of the restaurant Blumen and the private club Seven Swans, have joined to run the cafeteria in Rehberger’s installation. From 19 June to 9 October – for exactly 96 days – they are offering coffee, home-made cake and snacks. In addition to culinary delights, plenty of entertainment will also be offered there in the form of MMK After Work parties, art-film screenings and other events.

With Studio 2, the MMK art mediation team will also be present at the MainTor-Areal. A reading corner and a visitor-participation “wall newspaper” are two good reasons to stop in at the mediation room. During the summer holidays, workshops for children and teens will also take place in Studio 2.

The MMK building in Domstrasse, built in 1991 by Hans Hollein, is presenting such icons of the collection as Roy Lichtenstein’s Yellow and Green Brushstrokes, Andy Warhol’s Green Disaster, Bruce Nauman’s Perfect Balance and Gerhard Richter’s Fussgänger (Pedestrians). Works long hidden away in storage, for example by Lothar Baumgarten, Joseph Beuys, Marlene Dumas, Katharina Fritsch, Douglas Gordon, Mario Merz and Sturtevant, impressively demonstrate the diversity of the MMK’s collection. Much of the third level is devoted to American Pop Art, which is on display there in a dialogue with examples of Minimalism and other artistic tendencies of the 1960s and 70s. In a separate room on the first level, the archive of Frankfurt artist Peter Roehr, donated to the MMK this year by collector and former gallery owner Paul Maenz, is on view for the first time. In the central hall, Michael Beutler is premiering his work Outdoor Yellow for the MMK: this valuable addition to the collection was recently placed on permanent loan to the museum by the Commerzbank AG.

The MMK’s unique post-modern architecture has lost none of its fascination, and many of the works on display – by artists including Peter Fischli / David Weiss, Gregor Schneider, James Turrell and Bill Viola – have been developed over the past two decades for specific spaces within the museum. The most recent pieces to follow in this tradition are a group of photographic works by Wolfgang Tillmans and a room installation by Isa Genzken, both purchased on the occasion of the museum’s twentieth anniversary.

In the MMK Zollamt, situated immediately opposite the main building, the large-scale, five-screen video installation Whenever on on on nohow on / airdrawing by Peter Welz – executed in collaboration with the world-famous choreographer William Forsythe – is on view for the first time.

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