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documenta 2

The success of 1955 enabled the realization of another documenta four years later. Therefore a GmbH (limited liability company) was founded as an organizational form. The “international exhibition” reduced its covered period to “art after 1945”, while expanding its geographical reach, including the USA. Compiled under the “international program” by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the transatlantic large formats strongly highlighted the claim of sovereignty of the US American art production in Kassel. Furthermore they were seamlessly integrated into Werner Haftmann’s artistic thinking of continuity.


Arnold Bode’s advisor claimed that “the art has become abstract” and he wanted to prove that in the form of an exhibition. In order to that the documenta 1959 took a stand in the current debate concerning abstract art, trying to establish it as an international valid “world language” according to Haftmann’s theory of development. An extensive historical introduction with works by the classical modernism should lend credibility to the definition of binding quality standards. Consequently the new emerged exhibition series affirmed its aim to define the canon of the contemporary. Since then every documenta aims to combine objective documentation with subjective preferences.


The second documenta had also a spatial expansion. As a result of the thesis that contemporary sculptures need to withstand in the open air, a fascinating new venue had been developed: the scenery-like ruin of the Orangerie in the Karlsaue was being utilized for the presentation of the three-dimensional exhibits.