Joseph Beuys' Das Kapital Raum 1970‒1977 presented as a new permanent loan from collector Erich Marx to the Nationalgalerie

24.02.2015
Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin

Joseph Beuys’s iconic whole-room installation Das Kapital Raum 1970-1977 has been presented as a permanent loan from the art collector Erich Marx to the Staatliche Museen’s Nationalgalerie. The work will go on show - in truncated form - from next year at the Hamburger Bahnhof. The famous environment will ultimately find its permanent home, however, in the new building devoted to the art of the 20th century, planned for construction at the Kulturforum.

Michael Eissenhauer, Director General of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, was keen to stress the work’s importance: 'This new accession of Das Kapital, one of the artist’s key works, is the jewel in the crown of an already important collection of works by Beuys. For the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the loan brings us full circle: Thirty years ago Erich Marx helped us with the launch of our Hamburger Bahnhof. And now with his support, we’re about to embark on launching our Museum der Moderne.’

Erich Marx has been closely involved with the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin for many years. Thanks to him, the Nationalgalerie in Berlin presides over one of the most important Beuys collections in the world. Erich Marx explained his motivations for the new loan as follows: 'I decided many years ago to present my collection to the Nationalgalerie on permanent loan as a sign of my deep attachment to the city of the arts, Berlin. After working well with the Nationalgalerie for so many years, I am delighted to now be able to augment that permanent loan with another key work by Joseph Beuys, an artist with whom I was personally befriended. The acquisition of this work represents the culmination of my collecting activities.’

Das Kapital Raum 1970‒1977 / The Capital Room 1970‒1977

Beuys created the environment The Capital Room 1970-1977 for the central gallery of the International Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1980. The complex installation comprises 27 objects that form a Gesamtkunstwerk. Among the environment’s many components are 50 blackboards, a grand piano, and various electrical devices, such as tape recorders and a microphone. Incorporated in the installation are elements from earlier performances, such as his action 'Celtic (Kinnloch Rannoch)’ from 1970 and 'Celtic + ~~~’, as well as 50 blackboards that first went on display at documenta V in 1972 and documenta VI in 1977. The Capital Room 1970‒1977 can thus be seen as representing the sum of the most important events and impulses in the preceding ten years of the artist’s career.

In 1984 Beuys installed the work in the Hallen für Neue Kunst in Schaffhausen (Switzerland), modifying it to fit the space. Before going on show in Schaffhausen, the environment also went on view in other versions, in other venues. In 1981, directly after the Biennale, it was displayed at the InK, Halle für Internationale neue Kunst, Zurich, and in 1983 it featured in the exhibition 'Der Hang zum Gesamtkunstwerk’ at the Kunsthaus Zurich. Erich Marx acquired the work last year, after legal issues surrounding its ownership were resolved in Switzerland.

The Nationalgalerie: home to one of the best collections of works by Joseph Beuys in the world

The first major Beuys accession for the Nationalgalerie was in 1977, with the work 'Richtkräfte’. That piece consisted of 100 school blackboards, drawn and written on as the result of a four-week-long action in London (1974) and an environment in New York. Thanks to the permanent loan of the Marx Collection, on show since 1996 in the Hamburger Bahnhof (one of the Nationalgalerie’s six divisions), Berlin is also home to such famous works as 'The End of the 20th Century’ (1982-1983), 'The Secret Block for a Secret Person in Ireland’, 'Unschlitt/Tallow’, and 'Tram Stop’. In 2008/2009 the Nationalgalerie presented one of the largest retrospectives ever held on the artist, 'Beuys: We Are the Revolution’, and in 2011/12 it joined with the Art Tower Museum in Mito (Japan) to present 'Joseph Beuys 8 Days in Japan and the Utopia of EURASIA’, a sensational exhibition featuring never-before-seen footage totalling 30 hours.

The Marx Collection at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin

The Hamburger Bahnhof opened in 1996, featuring works from the Marx Collection. The collection is on permanent loan to the Nationalgalerie and its works form part of rotating exhibitions, organized by the museum’s curators.

Five great artists of the late 20th century form the core of the Marx Collection: Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol. The collection contains extensive groups of works that exemplify each artist’s development, from their early periods to late work. Each artist is represented by several works on permanent display.