The Württembergische Kunstverein
The Württembergischer Kunstverein, founded in 1827 and situated in the heart of Stuttgart at Schlossplatz, is one of Germany’s largest art associations—boasting nearly 3,000 members, over 1,700 square meters of exhibition and event space, workshops, and a studio house. With a program oriented to both local and global audiences, repeatedly exploring new and unusual forms of presentation, conveyance, and participation, the Kunstverein enjoys renown on a broad international level.
The Kunstverein is conceived as a place for the open, and also controversial, investigation of the manifold methods and practices found in contemporary art, including wide-ranging sociopolitical fields of reference. Of equal importance are exhibition and discourse, art and theory, research and production. Found here is a space of agency that extends beyond the simple viewing of art, a space where art and the relations between art, artists, the institution, and the public are subject to continual renegotiation: through conversations, debates, workshops, or workgroups, but also facilitated by access to books, journals, and other materials and infrastructures. Counting among these infrastructures are, not least, the spatial premises of the Kunstverein itself, which are made available to the public for outside meetings and other means of articulation.
What Does the Kunstverein Do?
The work pursued by the Württembergischer Kunstverein is founded on a broad network of both local and global nature. In addition to (and in dialogue with) art that is being produced today, the Kunstverein regularly focuses on viewing artistic works, practices, and discourses from the nineteen-sixties to eighties from a new perspective. Solo exhibitions by the artists Anna Oppermann (2007) and Teresa Burga (2011), for example, have decisively contributed to the rediscovery and reevaluation of their respective oeuvres.
External curators are regularly involved in conceptualizing the Kunstverein program, which is designed to be highly transcultural and transdisciplinary. Each year an average of four exhibitions are presented, along with more than one hundred different events. Starting in 2013 the exhibitions of the Traversals (Querungen) program are also being held, with a focus on creating spaces of resonance and discourse for the local art scenes while also fostering exchange with outside guests.
Since the Württembergischer Kunstverein does not house a collection, it has the opportunity and the mission to redefine its thematic priorities again and again. This facilitates close collaboration with the contemporary art world and a stance of openness toward artistic concepts.
The Kunstverein also releases a wide range of publications: a website with extensive information on the association, its program, on the participating artists and their artwork, featuring an archive that goes back to the year 1946; exhibition flyers and readers; and also books that serve to document exhibitions and to delve deeper into the exhibition content and theory. Moreover, since July 2012 the Kunstverein has been represented on Facebook.
Since the nineteen-sixties, the Kunstverein has hosted the “Atelierhaus,” or Studio House, which offers inexpensive working space for up to twenty artists.
The events program is designed to be an extension of each exhibition on show and includes workshops, film and lecture series, podium discussions, performances, and much more. It also previews upcoming projects, thus offering insight into the Kunstverein’s approach toward processes of development. Furthermore, the events program seizes on the general issues and dissonance relevant to contemporary art and theory. In addition to in-house events, collaborative and guest events are also held.
The periodic events offered include free Sunday tours, talks with the artists, curators’ tours, and “jour fixe” meetings for Kunstverein members, which are held on the last Wednesday of each month.
Jour Fixe Meetings for Members
The monthly “jour fixe” meetings for members represent an open forum dedicated to highly diverse topics. Current and upcoming exhibitions are discussed here, as are topical Kunstverein issues and its scope of activity beyond what is offered to the public. General concerns related to art, cultural politics, society, et cetera, are likewise up for discussion. Members are expressly invited to suggest discussion topics and to introduce their own ideas, questions, or plans. Members who are artists, for example, frequently offer a glimpse of their most recent projects.
Exhibitions by Artist Members
Approximately half of the Württembergischer Kunstverein members are artists by trade. With this in mind, and in our role as one of the few still existing member-based art associations, the Kunstverein regularly puts on exhibitions showing the work of its members. Since 2005 the artistic advisory board has been selecting topics for which artworks may be submitted. Basically all interested artists may participate in these exhibitions so long as their proposed pieces adhere to the predefined thematic context and remain within the framework possible in a group exhibition. The objective is to provide insight into the rich variety of artistic approaches in terms of both the Kunstverein member base and the selected thematic field. At the same time, these exhibitions serve as a platform for reciprocal exchange since they are accompanied by numerous artists’ talks, performances, and more.