Architecture Symposium Part I

Good Spirits, Bad Spirits

Facing the history of the Kunsthalle

April 21 + 22, 2023

The museum building of the Kunsthalle Bielefeld, an exemplary design of late modernism designed by Philip Johnson and opened in 1968, is one of the first new museum buildings of the young Federal Republic. The US architect Philip Johnson was successfully active in the architectural scene for over 60 years, one of the most important architectural theorists of the 20th century, founder of the Design/Architecture Department at MoMA New York, curator, collector and patron of the arts. He was wealthy, but also subtle and homosexual. In all this, however, it should not be overlooked that he was an avowed National Socialist in the 1920s and 30s.

The inauguration ceremony of the Kunsthalle Bielefeld was also linked to Germany’s National Socialist past. Originally it was to be called Kaselowsky-Haus, Kunsthalle der Stadt Bielefeld. In this way, the founding Oetker family wanted to commemorate a charitable family member. The latter’s affiliation with Himmler’s circle of SS friends at the time has been omitted. Engaged Bielefeldians protested and the ceremony was cancelled.

Now we are renovating and modernizing Kunsthalle Bielefeld and asking ourselves: How do we deal with our history? How should the building of the Kunsthalle Bielefeld be classified in terms of architectural history? How does the draft relate to the young Federal Republic’s history and how is it to be understood with Johnson’s relationship to Europe and Germany in particular? Is Johnson’s earlier enthusiasm for fascism reflected in his architecture?

Come by and join the discussion!

You can find a playlist with the recordings of all presentations on our YouTube-Channel.

Blog posts on each keynote and the corresponding recording are linked below in the biographies.

We meet in Part I


Middle aged white man with glasses, light brown to gray hair and beard. He wears a light blue shirt and black jacket.
Prof. Dr. Eduard Führ

Honorary Professor for Architectural Communication, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg

From 1994 to 2010 he was head of the Theory of Architecture Department at the Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus (today: Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg.) Previously, he held professorships at the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences at the Cottbus University of Applied Sciences and was a guest professor at the University of New Orleans or at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. In 2019, he was appointed honorary professor for architectural communication by the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, where he had previously also established a master’s program in architectural communication together with Riklef Rambow.

In addition to his teaching and research activities, Führ was also a curator of exhibitions: Architecture part of the exhibition The principle of hope. Aspects of Utopia in the Art and Culture of the 20th Century at the Kunstmuseum Bochum (1983/84) and the exhibition Heimat – Worin noch niemand war (1985) in Berlin, Heidelberg and Mülheim.

In 1996 Führ founded the online journal Wolkenkuckucksheim and the Open Collection Theory of Architecture (OS|ThArch) integrated in it. He is founder and chairman of the board of trustees of the Momus Foundation – Promotion of the Theory, Science and Criticism of Architecture, and in 2019, together with other scholars from the field, he founded the Ideenkonferenz Bielefeld (I-KON), a civic activity for the urban, infrastructural, architectural and cultural development of Bielefeld. He is one of the founders of the Forum Architectonics and Hermeneutics in 2022.

Numerous publications and essays, including Identity Politics – “Architect Professor Cesar Pinnau” as a design and designer. Bielefeld 2016 or Blühende Landschaften (together with Heinz Nagler); in: Sigrid Ruby, Barbara Krug-Richter, Amalia Barboza (Hgg): Heimat verhandeln? Kunst und kulturwissenschaftliche Annäherungen; Köln 2020

He leads us through the discussions as a moderator.

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Dr. Irene Below, Photo: Ivo Hammer (Ausschnitt)

Art historian, Werther

Studied art history, archaeology and German language and literature in Munich, Cologne, Florence and Berlin. Doctorate at the FU Berlin (1971). Since 1970 planner and from 1974 to 2004 lecturer at the Oberstufen-Kolleg of the University of Bielefeld. Since then freelance work as lecturer, curator and publicist. From 1988 to 1999 coordinator of the AG Künstlerinnen des 20. Jahrhunderts in the section “Frauenforschung in der Kunstwissenschaft” in the Ulmer Verein für Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaft. 2000 Founding member of the frauenkunstforum-owl e.V. (fkf-owl), now Künstlerinnenforum Bielefeld-OWL e.V. and 2001 initiator of the “ein-seh-bar – sichtbares künstlerinnenarchiv ostwestfalen-lippe”. Since 2000 active in the Women and Exile Working Group of the Society for Exile Research.

She will be giving the keynote address:
Art has WUMM – The Kunsthalle and its naming as a site of civil society debates and artistic interventions

Click here for the blog post about her lecture.

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Prof. Dr. Jeffrey Lieber

Art Historian, Texas State University

Associate Professor of Art History at Texas State University and author of Flintstone Modernism or the Crisis in Postwar American Culture (MIT Press, 2018). His essays on Philip Johnson have appeared in international publications, including the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Lieber’s 2018 opinion piece in The New York Times (“What Will We Lose When the Union Carbide Building Falls?”) sparked a debate about the importance of mid-20th century architecture in the United States. His wide-ranging interests in the field have been supported by, among others, the “Delmas Foundation Grant for Independent Research” in Venice and are reflected in his curation of provocative film series for the Harvard Film Archive and The New School in New York. He received his AB from Vassar College and his PhD in art history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

He will give the keynote address:
The Passions of Philip Johnson

Click here for the blog post about his lecture.

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Dr. Andrea Lissoni

Artistic Director of the Haus der Kunst Munich

Since 2020 artistic director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich. In April 2022, his program began there, based on a transdisciplinary approach in which all areas are closely linked. Previously he was Senior Curator, International Art (Film) at Tate Modern, London, and Curator at HangarBicocca, Milan. At Tate, he initiated and co-curated new exhibition formats such as the 2017 and 2018 live exhibition, collection presentation, and live program at the opening of the new building in 2016, and curated Philippe Parreno’s 2016 Turbine Hall Commission and survey exhibitions on artists Joan Jonas and Bruce Nauman.

His research addresses liveness, cinematic aspects in time-based artworks, the perception of time, and forms of transmission, exchange, and engagement in contemporary art. He explores these through transdisciplinary approaches to exhibition design, focusing on artistic contexts in non-dominant cultures and subcultures, including music and sound in particular.

He will give the keynote address:
The public museum as a monument

Click here for the blog post about his lecture.

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Dr. Ulrike Lorenz, Photo: Ina Schoenenburg

President of the Weimar Classic Foundation

President of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar since 2019. Previously, the art historian, who holds a doctorate, headed the Kunsthalle Mannheim for over ten years and was responsible for its new building, among other things.

She gives the lecture:
Years of Construction. Impulse Kunsthalle Mannheim. Architecture, Concept, Digital Strategy

Click here for the blog post about her lecture.

Portrait of an older white man with short gray hair, stubble beard and glasses. He wears white shirt and black jacket.
Prof. Dr. Fritz Neumeyer

emeritus Professor emeritus of Architectural Theory, Technical University of Berlin and architect

1993-2012 Professor of Architectural Theory at the Technical University of Berlin. 1992 Jean Labatut Professor, School of Architecture, Princeton University. 1989-1992 Professor of History of Architecture, University of Dortmund. – Visiting professorships at Harvard University, KU Leuven, SCIARC, Institut d’ Humanitats de Barcelona, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona.

Numerous publications on the theory and history of architecture, including: Mies van der Rohe. The artless word. Gedanken zur Baukunst, Berlin 1986, 2nd ed. 2016; Friedrich Gilly 1772-1800. Essays on Architecture, Santa Monica 1994 (Berlin 1997); Der Klang der Steine. Nietzsches Architekturen, Berlin 2001; Quellentexte zur Architekturtheorie, Munich 2002; Originalton Mies van der Rohe. Die Lohan-Tapes von 1969, Berlin 2020; Ausgebootet: Mies van der Rohe und das Bauhaus 1933 – Outside The Bauhaus. Mies van der Rohe and Berlin 1933, Berlin 2020.

He will give the keynote address:
Philip Johnson’s art hall in Bielefeld from 1968: a challenge for German architectural criticism.

Click here for the blog post about his lecture.

Portrait of a middle-aged white man with short gray hair and prominent eyebrows. He wears a gray jacket, blue shirt and bright striped tie.
Dr. Jochen Rath, Photo: Ralph Pache

Head of the Bielefeld City Archive and State History Library

born 1967 in Lemgo. Master’s degree in Modern and Contemporary History, Historical Ancillary Sciences and Political Science at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. DFG scholarship holder within the framework of the Research Training Group “Statehood in the Middle Ages and Modern Times” at the Justus Liebig University. 1997 Doctorate with a thesis on the scope of action of the Hanseatic (cities) in the conflicts of Braunschweig with the Guelphs in the 17th century. 1999-2001 Archivreferendariat at the Landeshauptarchiv Koblenz, Rhineland-Palatinate, and at the Archivschule Marburg. 2001 to 2003 Archivrat at the Landeshauptarchiv Koblenz (among other things, head of the Landeskoordinierungsstelle zur Nachweisbeschaffung für Zwangsarbeiter). 2003-2006 Head of the Warendorf District Archive. Since 2006 Head of the Bielefeld City Archive and State History Library. Publications on urban (including 67 online articles; book: Bielefeld – Eine Stadtgeschichte, 2019), regional, Hanseatic and National Socialist history, specialist contributions on archives. Member of the Historical Commission for Westphalia and of the Advisory Board of the Historical Association for the County of Ravensberg e.V.

He will give the keynote address:
Repeatedly finally “discussed out”!? – Biographical and Memory Cultural Observations on Richard Kaselowsky

Click here for the blog post about his lecture.

Portrait of a middle-aged white man with short hair and concise eyebrows. He stands with folded arms in a dark blue jacket and white shirt in a stairwell.
Prof. Dr. Stephan Trüby, Photo: Uli Regenscheit

Professor of architectural theory and director of the IGmA at the University of Stuttgart

1970. Professor of architectural theory and director of the Institute for the Foundations of Modern Architecture and Design (IGmA) at the University of Stuttgart. Previously, he was Professor of Temporary Architecture at the HfG Karlsruhe (2007-09), directed the MAS Scenography/Spatial Design postgraduate program at the Zurich University of the Arts (2009-2014), taught architectural theory at Harvard University (2012-2014), and was Professor of Architecture and Cultural Theory at the TU Munich (2014-2018). His most important books include Exit Architecture. Design between War and Peace (2008), The World of Madelon Vriesendorp (2008, with Shumon Basar), Germania, Venezia. The German Contributions to the Venice Architecture Biennale since 1991 – An Oral History (2016, with Verena Hartbaum), Absolute Architecture Beginners: Writings 2004-2014 (2017), The History of the Corridor (2018), and Right Spaces. Political Essays and Conversations (2020).

He will give the keynote address:
Moral communication in architecture. About Philip Johnson and Others

Click here for the blog post about his lecture.

A middle-aged white woman with long blond hair. She wears a white blouse under a cobalt blue blazer.
Christina Végh, Photo: Philipp Ottendörfer

Director of the Kunsthalle Bielefeld

Since February 2020, art historian Christina Végh (*1970 Zurich) has been director of Kunsthalle Bielefeld. Previously, she directed the Kestner Gesellschaft in Hanover from 2015, and was director of the Bonner Kunstverein from 2004 to 2014. Her first station after her studies at the University of Zurich (art history, ethnology, philosophy) and a stay at the University of California Santa Cruz, was the Kunsthalle Basel, where she worked as curator from 2000 to 2004. Végh has curated exhibitions with Monica Bonvicini, Monika Baer, John Baldessari, Rita McBride, Haegue Yang, Charline von Heyl, Annette Kelm, James Richards, Franz Erhard Walther or Christopher Williams, among others, and is also responsible for extensive group exhibitions such as “Where Art Can Happen. The Early Years of Cal Arts” (co-curator Philipp Kaiser) or “Made in Germany Three” and published in corresponding catalogs. Végh is active in numerous committees and juries, including in 2017 as a guest juror of the Wolfgang Hahn Prize, Ludwig Museum Cologne or at Pro Helvetia as a member of the Art Biennale jury (2015-2018), and since 2018 she has been a member of the jury of the Justus Bier Prize. From 2008-2012 Végh was involved in the board of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschen Kunstvereine (AdKV). In 2010, Végh was awarded a prize for art and architecture education by the Swiss Arts Commission of the Federal Office of Culture.

She welcomes us on each of the symposium days with an introduction.

Click here for her introductory blog post “Kunsthalle Bielefeld – developing for the 21st century: renovation/expansion”.

The symposium is sponsored and supported by:

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Foundation logo, in green is written on the left in capital letters B & A with a circle around it. To the right is the foundation name written out in capital letters.