Luther and the Avant-garde Contemporary art in Wittenberg, Berlin and Kassel

Art exhibition in the Old Prison – 19 May to 17 September 2017

Engaging with the burning issues of our times through art - around 70 artists exhibit their works: in a former prison and in churches

International contemporary art meets the combative visionary Martin Luther: that is the starting point of the exhibition Luther and the Avant-garde. The Reformer does not just take centre stage as a historical figure but as an original thinker and socio-cultural pioneer of his time. He initiated reform processes that impinged on all areas of society. Luther was resolved to change the world – who changes it today? And what is the position of art, which originally shaped the concept of avant-garde? 

Around 70 artists from five continents grapple with trail-blazing ideas of the Reformation that have lost nothing of their relevance today. They display their attitude to freedom and the risks it runs, demagogy and resistance, responsibility and tolerance, against the backdrop of profound social conflicts and the new global role of the media. On display are paintings, sculptures, installations, murals, photographs, drawings, posters, videos and sound works, along with performances by artists like Ai Weiwei, Eija-Liisa Athila, Monica Bonvicini, Olafur Eliasson, Ayşe Erkmen, Richard Jackson, Christian Jankowski, Jonathan Meese, Luise Schröder, Pascale Tayou, Günther Uecker or Erwin Wurm. Furthermore, Bazon Brock will host a ‘visitor school’ in Wittenberg for 40 days. 

The central display area is the Old Prison in Wittenberg, to be renovated especially for “Luther and the Avant-garde” and opened to the public. The former cells, landings and common rooms, the courtyard and facade will all become exhibition areas – an unusual place for both the artists and the visitors. Many artworks are being created especially for the exhibition. About 65 of the 70 will be shown in Wittenberg. In addition, there will be individual presentations in St Matthews’ Church in Berlin with works by Gilbert & George, as well as in the Karl Church in Kassel with works by Shilpa Gupta and Thomas Kilpper. 

“Luther and the Avant-garde” is a cooperative project with Reformationsjubiläum 2017 e.V. (r2017) and part of the World Reformation Exhibition. The organiser is the cultural foundation Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V. Bonn.

(Kopie 5)

Old Prison Wittenberg, Photo J.W.OhlertPhoto: Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert

Old Prison Wittenberg, Gable, Photo J.W.OhlertPhoto: Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert