Claus K. Netuschil: Collecting, preserving and staying up to date

In her speech on the occasion of the 25th anniversary, the former Hessian State Minister, Ruth Wagner, hit the nail right on the head: “The Darmstadt Art Archive is neither merely a museum, nor an archive or a library – in fact, it equally consists of all three!”

The Art Archive was founded in 1984 by committed local art lovers as a central documentation centre for the visual arts in greater Darmstadt. It is run exclusively by voluntary members, who devote themselves to collecting and documenting Darmstadt’s past and present art for the sake of its promotion, preservation and remembrance.

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They compile all documents related to the lives and works of local artists, such as newspaper articles, photos, handwritten papers, correspondence, files, exhibition records, films, monographs, or exhibition and art catalogues. The Art Archive library counts approximately 4,000 volumes. They also collect documentary material and catalogues about the exhibitions held in all of Darmstadt’s art facilities. Furthermore, the Art Archive houses an ever-growing collection of donated and endowed art­­works by local artists. It comprises prints, paintings and sculptures. Es­­pecially the complete and extensive inheritances from artists – including Karl Thylmann, Annelise Reichmann, Karl Deppert, Wilhelm Philipp, Helmut Lortz, and Esteban Fekete – are becoming a matter of concern for the twelve board members in charge: the Art Archive is suffering a massive lack of space, which must urgently be addressed.


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In addition to a broad programme of events for the now 500 association members as well as the public – approx­­imately 500 guided tours, studio visits, workshops, art history presentations and art trips over the past 25 years – the Art Archive set up exhibitions in its own spaces. For instance, there was a comprehensive exhibition on the past 100 years of sculpting in Darmstadt. Moreover, numerous artworks from the past were rediscovered and presented in thematic exhibitions with the exclusive participation of contemporary artists. The Art Archive further cooperates with regional festivals such as Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie (Darmstadt days of photography) or Architektursommer (summer of architecture).

The Art Archive press has released numerous art-related publications such as “Kunstszene Darmstadt A-Z”, a comprehensive directory of visual artists in and around Darmstadt. A new edition is in preparation for 2011/12.

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Anyone may join Kunst Archiv Darmstadt e.V. and thereby promote the compilation of our regional art, which is so important for Darmstadt. Membership offers many benefits. Members can contribute to the Art Archiv in accordance with their skills. The Art Archive is a central visual art location in Darmstadt, from where the modern and contemporary art scene can be actively observed and collected. Past artists are being documented and their works preserved. The Art Archive is a place of remembrance for the history of art; it is the memory of Darmstadt’s art.

20091011-468Claus K. Netuschil was born in Heppenheim/Bergstraße in 1951. He studied art history, German philology and librarianship at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 1976, he opened a gallery in Darmstadt focusing on contemporary painting and sculpting. The gallery is associated with a publishing house and the “Dokumentationsstelle des Darmstädter Expressionismus”, the documentation centre of Darmstadt expressionism. Since founding “Kunst Archiv Darmstadt e.V.” in 1984, the author has, to date, remained chairman of the documentation centre. He is exhibition curator as well as writer and publisher of numerous articles on contemporary art history.