Back to the Present, new installation at the Städel in Frankfurt


Städel Museum, Norbert Miguletz,


Museums, Exhibitions,


Almost ten years after completing its new, iconic subterranean halls, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, Germany has reorganised its collection of contemporary art displaying works from 1945 to now. It’s a new presentation called Back to the Present - New Perspectives, New Works - The Collection from 1945 to the Present.

  1. Blog
  2. News
  3. Back to the Present, new installation at the Städel in Frankfurt

Back to the Present, new installation at the Städel in Frankfurt
The Städel museum opened the extension designed by Schneider+Schumacher in late February 2012. The subterranean space slightly bulging upwards at the centre of the Städel garden is flooded with natural light through the 195 perfectly round skylights that form a distinctive pattern on the lawn. The extension has been compared with an Op-Art painting by Victor Vasarely, and now we can enjoy some of this artist’s works inside.
The architecture has been called “discreet and restrained”, and at the same time successful at “creating an iconic standout building that can represent the whole museum.”
Almost a decade after the opening of the Gartenhalle – Garden Halls – for the first time, the Städel is presenting its contemporary art collection in a new way. Proceeding from the central square overarched by an eight-metre-high dome, beginning with significant works of art dating from the recent past to the present, the exhibition winds through an area of some 3,000 square metres to present the post-1945 art. 
The new exhibition, curated by Martin Engler, totals about 230 works by 170 artists of various schools, styles and groups to reveal surprising comparisons, viewpoints and visible lines between the immediate present and its roots in past decades. In honour of the occasion, a large number of the museum’s most recent acquisitions and gifts will be on exhibit for the first time, including works by Miriam Cahn (*1949), René Daniëls (*1950), Carlos Cruz-Diez (1923–2019), Jimmie Durham (*1940), Asta Gröting (*1961) and Victor Vasarely (1906–1997).  Using a wide array of narrative threads, the new presentation gives visitors a journey through this post-1945 art by theme rather than in chronological order. 
The dissolution of the depicted object into formless, abstract painting is transmitted across different decades, like the advent of gestural painting and its impact on the generations that followed. The presentation also addresses the aesthetic of geometry and everyday objects, charged with ever new meanings and references in all its various forms and underlying themes. As visitors make their way through the rooms and squares of the Garden Halls, they will also gain insights into how the figure found its way back into the picture, how painting conquered – real – space, and how the alleged competitors, painting and photography, entered into a mutual exchange.
Martin Engler, head of the Städel Museum’s Collection of Contemporary Art, explains the connection between the architecture and the new exhibition. “The open structure of the Städel’s Garden Halls permits an independent look at the art of our time, going back from each respective present to the immediate post-war period. The squares, spaces and paths of the exhibition architecture offer unaccustomed visual axes and proximities that create links and make them visible, effortlessly bringing together art of several decades. We become flâneurs, discovering the most recent chapter in art history on routes of our own choosing.”
The Städel Museum in Frankfurt reopened in full compliance with official COVID-19 regulations and exhibition opened on 19 May.

Christiane Bürklein

Back to the Present - New Perspectives, New Works - The Collection from 1945 to the Present.
Curator: Martin Engler (Head of the Contemporary Art Collection, Städel Museum)
Project Management: Svenja Grosser (Graduate Trainee, Städel Museum)
starting at 19 May 2020.
Find out more: https://www.staedelmuseum.de/en/exhibitions/back-present
Images: Städel Museum - Norbert Miguletz 


Stay in touch with the protagonists of architecture, Subscribe to the Floornature Newsletter