Joachim Nagel speaks at the opening of the exhibition “Change of Location” in the Museum Giersch ©Nils Thies

Nagel: “Change of location” art exhibition opens up new perspectives

Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel has officially opened the art exhibition “Change of Location. The Museum Giersch of Goethe University Frankfurt Hosts the Art Collection of the Deutsche Bundesbank” in Frankfurt am Main. “This is the first time that we are showcasing such a representative and extensive array of pieces from our collection outside the Bundesbank,” he said in his speech. Comprising 85 selected works of art, the exhibition at the MGGU provides a remarkable survey of the collection amassed by the German central bank from the 1950s to the present day. Included are works by artists such as Georg Baselitz, Rupprecht Geiger, Isa Genzken, Katharina Grosse, Ernst Wilhelm Nay and Jorinde Voigt. The exhibition will be open to visitors until 8 January 2023.

Art as an integral fixture of our day-to-day life

Dr Nagel went on to explain that the title “Change of location” is to be interpreted not just in terms of the spatial. The change of scene “also opens up fresh perspectives”. Displayed in the villa housing the museum, the pieces reveal themselves and interact with one another in a manner entirely different to when set amid the modernistic architecture of the Bundesbank’s Central Office. Dr Nagel pointed out that at the Bundesbank’s premises art is like an integral fixture of day-to-day life – a given by dint of its constant presence. He spoke about the many times when a work of art might still catch somebody’s eye though, often stimulating interesting conversations and presenting an opportunity to look beyond the realms of work. Like many colleagues, he, too, has had to bid a temporary farewell to a work of art from his office so that it could take its place in the “Change of location” exhibition – in his case, the piece “Lidl”, painted by Jörg Immendorff. “It was my companion back during my first stint on the Executive Board of the Bundesbank, so I was all the more delighted when it was rehung in my office upon my return to the Bank,” said the Bundesbank President. Employees’ relationship with art also forms part of the exhibition at the MGGU. In a short film produced specially for the exhibition, staff members talk about the works of art that have resonated with them personally.

The exhibition at the MGGU

The way that the exhibits are grouped thematically in the rooms of the MGGU gives rise to unusual dialogues and fields of tension. By bringing contemporary and historical artistic positions up against one another, thematic clusters such as “Continuation of the gestural”, “Colour absolute” and “History and stories” spotlight surprising aspects of the works. A piece by Anne Imhof with gestural scratches in acrylic on aluminium encounters Arnulf Rainer’s “overpaintings”. Rupprecht Geiger’s bright red colour field meets the works of Monika Baer with all their ironic connotations. Both grappling with German history, the archaising pictorial world of Anselm Kiefer is confronted with the conceptual photography of Annette Kelm. Visitors are invited to step into these dialogues and engage in conversation with others. The MGGU is also presenting two spaces specifically designed for the exhibition, where visitors will encounter new works by Michael Riedel and Frauke Dannert – both of whom also figure in the Bundesbank’s art collection. To top it off, an array of photographs reference the “change of location” experienced by the art, showing it in the context of the Bundesbank’s offices, corridors and meeting rooms.

The Bundesbank’s art collection

Like many central banks, the Bundesbank has built up its own art collection. According to Dr Nagel, this is all to do with civic engagement. “As public institutions, we feel a sense of commitment to the art and culture in our respective countries, and want to promote it.” Reflecting on its significance, Dr Nagel observed that the collection has been enriching the working environment of the Bundesbank for more than 60 years and has thus become a part of its identity.

The collection, which now numbers several thousand works spread throughout Germany at the Bundesbank’s various locations, has its roots in the 1950s and the purchase of examples of art informel by creators such as Karl Otto Götz and Heinz Kreutz. Other pieces were added in the ensuing decades, and the collection grew. The acquisition of paintings, prints, works on paper, sculptures, and the occasional photograph too also mirrors the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. The focus lies on work from the German-speaking world; after reunification in 1990, a conscious drive was made to incorporate artists from eastern Germany.