m a k i n g things
Tomas Schmit. Drawing, Action, Language 1970–2006

15.09.2021 to 09.01.2022

As part of Berlin Art Week, the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) are dedicating two large exhibitions in parallel to the German “action artist” and draftsman Tomas Schmit (1943–2006). The n.b.k. exhibition concentrates on Schmit’s Fluxus activities, while the Kupferstichkabinett hosts the first retrospective of his drawings in Berlin. Comprising some 170 works, the exhibition includes pieces from the museum’s holdings and exceptional supplementary loans, reflecting the multifaceted spectrum of Schmit’s nearly four decades of language and drawing art.

Tomas Schmit participated in the the European Fluxus group “actions” as a performer and organiser, until it gradually began to disband in 1964. From 1966 he devoted himself primarily to writing and drawing. Yet the idea of the stage as a place where an act is performed in front of and with an audience had not disappeared from his art. Instead, drawing paper now became the new setting for his Fluxus-inspired credo of “m a k i n g things – not depicting, commenting on, schematizing or interpreting things, but m a k i n g things. From then on, Schmit staged “the performance of drawing” on paper. The intimate interaction between the practice of performance and the act of drawing that characterises Schmit’s entire oeuvre is explored for the first time in the Kupferstichkabinett exhibition.

Its core is formed by Schmit’s works that emerged from an event-based drawing practice integrating chance occurrences, such as blind drawing. The aspect of “m a k i n g things” is particular to these works in a special way, with this thematic focus being framed by a chronological presentation of the works spanning all of the artist’s creative phases. On view are examples of his early “action literature”, as are the graphite and coloured pencil drawings on paper from 1966, the editions from the 1970s, the drawings produced by games involving calculation and dice in the 1990s, the late ink drawings on museum board from 2003 and the digital drawings from 2004.

With seriousness as well as humour, Schmit probed the laws of life in his diverse work – in his performances, books, editions and drawings – studying everyday life and things far beyond, turning his attention to evolution theory and to questions of consciousness and perception. He was always accompanied and guided by a method deeply rooted in Fluxus and expanded over the years, that of m a k i n g things, rather than representing, commenting on or imitating them.

The exhibition is curated by Jenny Graser, curator of contemporary art at the Kupferstichkabinett.


The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue published by Hatje Cantz Verlag, with text contributions by Jenny Graser, Dorothy Iannone, Kasper König, Stefan Ripplinger, Tomas Schmit, and Annette Tietenberg. The volume is edited by Jenny Graser in collaboration with Barbara Wien: "sachen m a c h e n: Tomas Schmit", Approx. 300 pages, 180 illustrations. ISBN 978-3-7757-5126-1.

A Parallel Exhibition at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein While the Kupferstichkabinett exhibition highlights Schmit’s works on paper, the parallel exhibition, Tomas Schmit. Stücke, Aktionen, Dokumente 1962–1970, at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) considers the artist’s Fluxus activities.

A project of the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) and the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in cooperation with Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst and the tomas schmit archiv, Berlin.

The exhibtion is part of Berlin Art Week.

A special exhibition of the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Herbstferien-Programm 2021 für Familien und Jugendliche
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin / Valerie Schmidt
Rosa Barba. In a Perpetual Now, Exhibition view, Neue Nationalgalerie, 2021
© Rosa Barba / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2021, Foto: Andrea Rossetti
Visitors to the Neue Nationalgalerie
© Ludwig Mies van der Rohe / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021 /Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Valerie Schmidt, 2021

10785 Berlin

wheelchair accessible

U-Bahn U2 (Potsdamer Platz)
S-Bahn S1, S2, S25 (Potsdamer Platz)
Bus M29 (Potsdamer Brücke); M41 (Potsdamer Platz Bhf / Voßstraße); M48, M85 (Kulturforum); 200 (Philharmonie)

Sun 11:00 - 18:00
Mon closed
Tue closed
Wed 10:00 - 17:00
Thu 10:00 - 17:00
Fri 10:00 - 17:00
Sat 11:00 - 18:00

Opening times on public holidays Opening Hours
The special exhibition The Allure of Rome: Maarten van Heemskerck Draws the City can also be visited on Tuesdays (10 am to 6 pm).

Opening hours study hall

m a k i n g things
6,00 EUR Concessions 3,00
Tomas Schmit. Drawing, Action, Language 1970–2006
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Related Links

To the Exhibition as part of Berlin Art Week

"sachen m a c h e n: Tomas Schmit" in the Webshop of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin