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documenta 4

When Bode’s influence on his exhibition invention started to fade, in 1968 a committee of experts with a large number of members tried to provoke a generational change in the management of the documenta and to test the transfer of democratic procedures to the art world. However, in the revolutionary year of 1968, the new organization principle collided with the resistance from the student movement, which accused those responsible of a reactionary concept of art.

With its focus on the art production of the past four years, the 4th Kassel exhibition saw itself as the “youngest documenta ever”. What had been neglected in 1964 under the primacy of abstraction was now made up for: pop- and op-art, minimalism, color field, post-painterly abstraction, hard edge, shaped canvas and all the other current forms of artistic practice represented the new understanding of reality within the framework of Western art. Bode’s enthusiasm for the room design was spectacularly reflected in the “environments” he created. As a result, artist spaces that extended far beyond panel painting and activated the audience to a “spatial image” gained central importance.

The strong presence of the USA brought the press slogan “americana” to the 4th documenta. Although the presentation of the sculptures in front of the Orangerie lost its programmatic severity, in the center of the Karlswiese Christo’s “5,600 Cubic Meter Package” as a highly visible landmark and an intervention in the public space demonstrated the claim of 1960s art to extended social effectiveness.