On the occasion of the donation of 15 important works and work complexes by Hanne Darboven to the Nationalgalerie through Susanne and Michael Liebelt, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin dedicates an exhibition to this important representative of Conceptual Art in Germany. The Nationalgalerie now possesses works from every creative period of the artist, who died in 2009.
The exhibition ‘Hanne Darboven. Correspondences’ shows drawings, numerical constructions, and serial images derived from her engagement with Minimal and Conceptual Art. These works are combined with mailings from 1967 to 1975, which reveal the establishment and maintenance of a dense network of fellow artists, curators and friends. Prior to her death, the artist chose approximately 1,150 letters, postcards, sketches, plans and photographs from this time period for the general public with the title ‘Correspondence’. This collection, held by the Hanne Darboven Stiftung, provides new insights into the artist’s work process as well as the art system around 1970. In the wake of the publication of the letter exchanges of the ‘Correspondence’ in 2016 in a facsimile edition made possible by the Liebelt Stiftung Hamburg, now this material will be exhibited for the first time.
And so a figure comes to the fore, which has until now been overshadowed by her identity as an artist, collector and composer: Hanne Darboven the correspondent and her unbridled passion for writing. The exhibition presents a selection of letters received by Hanne Darboven and those penned by her to long-standing friends. For hundreds of mailings were exchanged particularly between her and Carl Andre, Roy Colmer, Isi Fiszman, Sol LeWitt, Lawrence Weiner and members of her family. And in addition, there are messages to and from colleagues (Daniel Buren, Gilbert & George, Reiner Ruthenbeck or Ruth Vollmer), collectors (Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, Karl Ströher, Mia and Martin Visser), curators (Johannes Cladders, Douglas Crimp, Kasper König, Lucy Lippard), art dealers (Leo Castelli, Konrad Fischer or Adriaan Van Ravesteijn of Art & Project). For the first time, the exhibition takes these postal exchanges as an opportunity to also enquire into artistic correspondencies with these writing partners. Accordingly, Darboven’s works from the collections of the Nationalgalerie, the Kupferstichkabinett and the Kunstbibliothek of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are complemented by the presentation of works by artist colleagues with whom she was in close contact, such as Carl Andre, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Daniel Buren, Jan Dibbets, Sol LeWitt and Lawrence Weiner
In addition to documenting the artist’s pivotal process, ‘Hanne Darboven. Correspondences’ records the development and differentiation of art at the end of the 1960s. The presented letters describe, for example, Conceptual Art and the processes of dematerialization, performative writing practices, the polyphony of authorial voice, the production of identity through memory, and a totalization of work in times of postmaterial structures. Yet, they also recount a passion for writing and the onset of the globalization of art – subjects that remain relevant to art and society today. These topics of Korrespondenz have been distributed across eight thematic rooms. Here, visitors encounter works from Hanne Darboven and her writing partners; moving at will between various sections and levels, the viewers subsequently explore the entanglements and overlaps of correspondences, creative writing, and individual works on the wall or the floor.