“The institution Kunstverein is a genuinely German invention that has ensured for more than 200 years that contemporary art can be experienced at a high level even far away from the major art centers. French, English or e.g. Eastern European colleagues look enviously at the German institutional landscape with its top-class and numerous art associations.
But in the discussion about civic commitment and committed local mediation, the great changes that the Kunstvereine have undergone in the course of their 200-year history are often overlooked. For today’s image of a programmatically working art association with supra-regional appeal, such as the GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst in Bremen, the historical genesis of the institutional type alone is no longer sufficient.
In my lecture I would therefore like to propose the thesis that a specific type of curatorial practice today is just as much a part of the image of an art association as the classical criteria such as membership recruitment and statutes. Perhaps the model Kunstverein in the 21st century must develop just as much as it did in the past in order to be able to continue to fulfill the original mission of the Kunstverein.” – Johan Holten
Johan Holten (*1976) studied art history and cultural studies at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He has been director of the Heidelberger Kunstverein since 2006 and was elected chairman of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Kunstvereine (ADKV) in 2009.
A lecture to the exhibition “An einem schönen Morgen des Monats Mai…” on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the GAK.