Kunstsammlung NRW
SFMOMA-Team bei der Arbeit: Erica Gangsei und Kameramann Javier Roberto Carlos Briones drehen im "Deutschlandgerät" von Reinhard Mucha im K21, Foto: Kunstsammlung

SFMOMA on Tour: Visiting German Artists

Even in an internationally networked museum like the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, a group of guests who have undertaken a journey of nearly 9000 kilometers is not exactly an everyday occurrence. A team from the SFMOMA in San Francisco met in Düsseldorf with Katharina Fritsch and Thomas Schütte for film shoots, and conducted an interview with Reinhard Mucha at the K21.

Insights into an inspiring encounter by Alissa Krusch for #32.

All three of the artists who met museum staff member Erica Gangsei and her team in Düsseldorf are well known to the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. The installations by Katharina Fritsch, the sculptures of Thomas Schütte, and Reinhard Mucha’s Deutschlandgerät (Germany Device) are among the familiar fixtures of the artist’s room program at the K21.

Erica Gangsei was particularly eager to have a talk with Mucha, who was born in Düsseldorf, and has participated twice in the Documenta – and is also notorious for rarely granting interviews. The location – within his artwork – may also be the most unconventional film set they encounter during their trip. In 2002, for the inauguration of the K21, Reinhard Mucha’s Deutschlandgerät  (Germany Device) – originally realized for the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of 1990 (jointly with Bernd and Hilla Becher) – was installed in the former plenary hall of the converted Ständehaus (regional parliament building), where it was further developed and supplemented especially for this site.


A Glimpse of the Future: The SFMOMA in 2016

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) – the oldest museum for modern and contemporary art on the US-American west coast – is currently closed. Soon, it will acquire a spacious new building for visitors and art lovers and for events of all types, which will accommodate expanded areas for exhibitions and for the permanent collection.

This new artspace at the heart of the Bay Area – characterized by the museum in anticipation as a step toward a “transformation” – will open only in 2016. But this multiyear closure is hardly a reason to withdraw to the building site.

The Museum Field known as “Interpretive Media”

Within the museum, Erica Gangsei is in charge of the field known as “interpretive media,” and is currently spending two weeks traveling through Europe with her team of four in interviewing an impressive series of internationally known artists. When the SFMOMA reopens, the films will be available both online and in a public accessible space within the museum. Besides producing the artist’s videos, Gangsei is coordinating and coproducing audio tours and podcasts and inaugurating experimental projects designed to stimulate visitor participation.


German Art in the Collection

A key word search through the comprehensive online collection of this west coast museum reveals further parallels between Düsseldorf and San Francisco: represented by two works within the permanent collection of the SFMOMA – which encompasses more than 29,000 objects – is the German artist Katharina Fritsch (born in Essen in 1956): Warengestell mit Gehirnen (Display Stand with Brains) from 1989/1997, and Kind mit Pudeln (Child with Poodle), 1995-96).

In San Francisco, visitors can familiarize themselves with Thomas Schütte’s oeuvre through two figures from the series “Große Geister” (“Great Spirits”; figures 11 and 12). Also present in the collection are works by Bernd and Hilla Becher, the photographers Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, Joseph Beuys, and numerous other classical modernist artists who were either German or were active here, including Max Beckmann, Hans (Jean) Arp, and Kurt Schwitters.

And Reinhard Mucha? Hardly an unknown figure at the SFMOMA.

From the Deutschlandgerät and to In Orbit

One level higher than the Deutschlandgerät, above the roof of the former plenary hall, the artist Tomás Saraceno has spanned his unique installation in orbit. Like a platform, the converted plenary hall soars upward into the airspace of the piazza, set more than 20 meters below. Erica and cameraman Javier Roberto Carlos Briones would hate to continue their journey without paying a visit to the network structure. After just a few minutes, they are already moving about with facility. After a few circuits, they return to solid ground, filled with enthusiasm, and shoot some photographs for the SFMOMA blog, where they want to include a report about in orbit.

It will take a while longer before the video interview with Reinhard Mucha appears. After an inspiring exchange, we have long since shared the digital channels of SFMOMA and remain on the air.

SFMOMA's website

Future of SFMOMA

Artist's interviews on youtube