A-Z. The Marzona Collection

24.01.2014 to 29.05.2016
Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart

The exhibition "A-Z. The Marzona Collection" is a celebration of the conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s and illustrates the contemporary relevance of works from this era. The presentation spans the next two and a half years and features the collection of Egidio Marzona, which primarily consists of works of American and European Conceptual art, Minimal Art, and Arte Povera.

The letters of the alphabet offer the basis for a versatile and consistently varied approach to the diverse works in the Marzona Collection. The semiotic structure of the alphabet is used to highlight ideas inherent to the works exhibited and provides a stringent yet open-ended format for the exhibition programme. Individual artistic positions, important historical exhibitions, and artistic genres are examined. The presentation is altered every quarter of a year in keeping with the sequence of the alphabet.

#9/9 YZ (15.3.–29.5.2016)

The final presentation in the series, #9/9 YZ, examines the present in the Marzona Collection. “Yours Truly” contains special treasures from the 'Marzona Archive’, which Egidio Marzona is currently compiling, and which he sees as a study collection of avant-garde movements in the 20th-century . In addition to artist postcards by Sol LeWitt, the letter Y features extensive correspondence between individual artists, as well as publications and such curiosities as the Poetor, a machine for producing concrete poetry.

As the last letter in the series, Z stands for the German word for future (Zukunft) and therefore for works by contemporary artists (Saâdane Afif, Tacita Dean, Jonathan Monk and Mario Garcia Torres) that relate to the art of the 1960s and 1970s in the  Marzona Collection.

#8/9 VWX (8.12.2015 – 6.3.2016)

The penultimate presentation of "A-Z: The Marzona Collection" focuses on the letter V for the 'Verbreitung' or 'distribution' of artworks, as based on conceptual artist Stephen Kaltenbach's Artforum Advertisements, which appeared in 1968/69 in the art magazine of the same name. W stands for Wittgenstein and features an eleven-part work by Mel Bochner relating to the linguistic philosopher's work. And X stands for the Xerox Book, an important publication from 1968. It was conceived and designed by Seth Siegelaub as an exhibition in book form. The show also features additional works from the Marzona Collection created by the seven participating artists: Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, and Lawrence Weiner.

#7/9 STU(8.9.–29.11.2015)

The presentation #7/9 STU opened with S, a room devoted to the work of US minimalist Fred Sandback. T stood for Text and spotlighted the preoccupation with language demonstrated by many Conceptual and Minimal artists. U playfully represented “Un-" variously signifying such things as “un-sorted", “un-curated" and “un-conditionally". The works on view were selected by the entire museum staff and would otherwise not have formed part of the presentation of the collection.

#6/9 PQR (26.5.-30.8. 2015)

Starting with P, the display took a look at the theme of 'process', as best highlighted in the works of Mario Merz, Hanne Darboven, and Roman Opalka. The letter Q stood for 'Questions & (various) Answers'. This room was curated by the artist group Myvillages, at the invitation of the museum's art education and outreach department. In this participatory space, visitors were able to trace and determine the formation process behind art and exhibitions. And finally, under the letter R, one room was dedicated to the work of Ed Ruscha, in particular his artist's books.

#5/9 MNO (17.2.-17.5.2015)

The fifth of altogether nine presentations of the Marzona Collection focused under the letter M on Minimal Art, one of the core strands of the Marzona Collection. The second room situated Conceptual Art and Minimal Art in the geographical context of N for New York. The significance and vitality of this art centre in the 1960s and 1970s were vividly conveyed through magazines and artists' books. O for Ort (in German Site) looked at site-specific works of Land Art. At the end of the 1960s, artists such as Michael Heizer and Robert Smithson quit the gallery space and worked directly in and with the landscape. Soil, sand, sun and the tides became their artistic materials. Together with Minimal Art this trend led to the most radical artistic concepts of the day.

#4/9 JKL (25.11.2014-8.2.2015)
Artist Ruth Buchanan (*1980) opened the "wild card" presentation, J-oker, with a large-scale intervention that was specially conceived for this exhibition series. She combined existing works from her archive, new pieces and works from the Marzona Collection into a site-specific interplay that moved with and against the conventional principles of collecting and exhibiting art. Under the title of K-ubus (in German Cube), the second room was devoted to geometric structures, which play a fundamental role in Minimal Art. This artistic occupation with the cube was further explored under the letter L in the third room, which showed works by the American artist Sol LeWitt.

#3/9 GHI (2.8.-16.11.2014)
Gehen (in German Walking) as artistic practice was explored under the letter G (with works by Stanley Brouwn, Richard Long and Hamish Fulton). As Handlung (in German Action), H thematized performative aspects of art in the 1960s and 1970s, and I took an idea-led tour of the most important currents in conceptual art, with works from Marcel Duchamp to Joseph Kosuth.

#2/9 DEF (2.5-27.7.2014)
Following on from this first presentation, rooms D, E and F were on view. D investigated the aspect of Documentation in Conceptual Art. E as Erhalten (in German Conservation) offered visitors a look behind the scenes at the activities of the museum's conservation department, and at the particular challenges that contemporary artworks present to a museum. And the third exhibition room F focused on Fotografie (in German Photography), which in the late 1960s took on renewed importance as an artistic medium.

# 1/9 ABC (23.1.-23.4.2014)
Beginning with the letter A, the first room offered a look at the Italian movement of Arte Povera. The second room of the exhibition was dedicated to the letter B and presented an installation by the French artist Daniel Buren and finally, the letter C addressed the exhibition catalogue as an artistic medium through C. 7500, the title of an exhibition curated by Lucy Lippard in 1973.

Next to the three rooms of the exhibition is the "Büro" (office), an open archive space where visitors can find additional information on the subjects, artworks and artists on show. A programme of events offers further opportunities to interact with and reflect on the presentations.

Curator: Lisa Marei Schmidt, Education and outreach: Daniela Bystron

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