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Art Criticism in Times of Populism and Nationalism
Proceedings of the 52nd International AICA Congress, Cologne/Berlin 1–7 October 2019
Danièle Perrier (Hrsg.)

This publication documents the 52nd International Congress of the Art Critics' Association AICA, which met in Cologne and Berlin in 2019 on the subject of Art Criticism in Times of Populism and Nationalism. More than 40 speakers and moderators provided a definition of populism, dealt with the issues of discrimination, censorship in many countries and the adoption of artistic strategies in "right-wing" parlance. Autonomy and responsibility of of art and art criticism were also discussed. The discussions reproduced here show the whole complexity of the topic.
The documentation is available in German and English from

Series »Writings on Art Criticism«

This series was established by Walter Vitt in 1993 and is edited by him in collaboration with the German section of the International Art Critics Association AICA.
Each volume (in German) is limited to 48 pages, is an »afternoon's reading« so to speak. The series is to be understood as an alternative program to the mammoth catalogues of a certain exhibition practice currently in place.
Preferably members of the German AICA section are invited as authors. The topics address are appropriate to the current discourse in art criticism.
Particular importance is shown the presentation of the small booklet. For the covers, the collaboration of the Braunschweig painter and art professor Lienhard von Monkiewitsch was won. His system of composition and construction »with square, parallelogram and rectangle« is superbly suited to an imaginative further development of the cover design. A continued collaboration with the painter is intended.

edited writings

Volume 28
John Anthony Thwaites
Das erste Opfer ist Yves Klein
Späte Kunsttexte des Engländers in Deutschland -
aus den 1960er Jahren

Yves Klein is the first victim
Late critical texts from the Englishman in Germany -
from the Sixties
ith a postcript by Beate Eickhoff
edited by Walter Vitt for AICA Germany and published by Steinmeier
Cologne/Deiningen 2018
ISBN 978-3-943599-70-1
With occasionally very snappy British humor John Anthony Thwaites wrote his German reviews primarily for a broad audience. He wanted to educate them in recognizing creative art. Thwaites' comments are not free from self-contradictions, yet he was obviously read just because of his critical ratings, his humor and certainly also because of his polemical style.

Volume 27
Barbara Hess
Die Anfänge der documenta
- eine „Frage der Schaufenster“?
Mit einem Nachwort von Walter Vitt
The beginnings of documenta
- a matter of showcase?
with a postscript by Walter Vitt
an edition of AICA Germany published by Steinmeier
Cologne/Deiningen 2017
ISBN 978-3-943599-62-6
For the second time, the publication series (Schriften-Reihe) is addressing the topic of “documenta”. Ten years ago Dirk Schwarze wrote a contribution entitled “Expansion of the documenta critique”. The current volume focuses on the beginning of this extensive exhibition in Kassel out of which emerged the Cologne contemporary art fair in 1967. The art fair itself was responsible for a wave of newly-founded art galleries. As a result of this development many other modern art fairs were launched worldwide. In this new edition, Barbara Hess, who has written her dissertation on this subject, deals with the early documenta exhibitions and their proximity to the market.

Volume 26
Lothar Romain
Kunsttexte aus den 1970er Jahren
Romains Beiträge aus dem Kulturteil des sozialdemokratischen „Vorwärts“
Mit einem Nachwort von Walter Vitt
Art Essays from the 70ties
Romain's essays from the cultural section of the social democratic newspaper "Vorwärts"
With a postscript by Walter Vitt
Köln/Deiningen 2017
ISBN 978-3-943599-57-2
Before his career as an academic professor in Munich and finally as president of the Berlin University of Arts, Lothar Romain (1944-2005) has been an art critic in radio stations (Südwestfunk, Westdeutscher Rundfunk) and press („Vorwärts“). His articles, written at the end of the 1970s, are reflections on the further development of the awakening of fine arts in the final stage of the 60s. During this time, part of the official DDR-art found its lead off in Western Germany, especially with the documenta 6 (1977). His writing style is factual, informative, argumentative. He avoids the use of adulation in media, mailing and events of the art event manager.

Volume 25
Andreas Hüneke
Fund Gurlitt - Fall Kunstkritik
Der Nazi-Schatz - Analyse einer Berichterstattung
Fund Gurlitt - Case of art critic
The Nazi Tresure - Analysis of reporting
Cologne/Deiningen 2015
ISBN 978-3-943599-42-8
The spectacular discovery of modern art in the house of Cornelius Gurlitt in Munich and the partly helpless response at the beginning, respectively the later overreaction in parts of communication media – that is the subject of Andreas Hüneke’s essay. This is the third volume, for which our „art critic library“ has to say thank you to the Potsdam aica-member. The author himself finally said: In many cases was the early Gurlitt reporting nor balanced neither objective.

Volume 24
Leo Lecci
Marcel Duchamp: widersprüchlich & widersprochen
Vom vergeblichen Versuch, die Kunst scheitern zu lassen - über den Tod hinaus
Marcel Duchamp: contradictory and controvert
About the vain attempt to let art collapse - beyond death
Cologne/Deiningen 2014
ISBN 978-3-943599-30-5
The Genoese art historian Leo Lecci is primarily engaged in the early reception of Duchamp’s art. His essay was written on behalf of the publisher of the “Schriften zur Kunstkritik” (Writings on Art Criticism); the original Italian version has not yet been published. The profound impact of Duchamp’s ready-mades on the development of art in the 20th century has clearly been demonstrated. Duchamp himself has expressed “regret” in a subtle manner with the remark that his attempt failed to put an end to art once and for all.

Volume 23
Paola Valenti
Nah und fern
Valori Plastici, Magischer Realismus und Neue Sachlichkeit im Licht der Kunstkritik
Near and far
Valori Plastici, Magischer Realismus,and Neue Sachlichkeit in the light of critic
Cologne/Deiningen 2013
ISBN 978-3-943599-18-3
After her essay "Klee Conquers Italy" (volume 19 of the edition) the Genoese author explains the correlations between the Italian pittura metafisica and the German Magischer Realismus. Centre of her statement is the Roman art magazine "Valori Plastici", be published from 1918 to 1922 with 15 editions.

Volume 22
Marie Luise Syring
Im Irrgarten der Kunstkritik
Eine französische Debatte in den 1990er Jahren
In the maze of art criticism
A French debate in the nineties
Cologne / Deiningen 2012; ISBN 978-3-943599-06-0
In the nineties in France an extensive and heated discourse over contemporary art occurred. The authoress of this volume speaks of a „sort of balancing of accounts". Art market and art criticism, museums and collectors - according to the critics - had to an extent ennobled the decent of art into triviality.

Volume 21
Volker Wahl
Bauhaus - frühe Kritik
Mit vier Kritiken vom April 1919
Bauhaus - early critic
With four critics of April 1919
Cologne/Deiningen 2011
ISBN 978-3-939777-89-2
This volume documents the four early (1919) comments on Walter Gropius' Bauhaus conception. The articles written by Adolf Behne, Paul Klopfer, Max Osborn und Walter Müller-Wulckow are not present in Hans M. Wingler's comprehensive Bauhaus book edited in 1962. They represent models of an affirmative art critic.

Volume 20
Walter Vitt
Dexel als Kunstkritiker
Mit 4 Text-Beispielen des Malers
Dexel as art critic
With 4 essays by the artist
Cologne/Deiningen 2010
ISBN 978-3-939777-72-4
In his manifold creative work during the period from 1912 - 1933 Dexel was not only concerned with paintings, typographical advertising, luminous traffic signs and
curating exhibitions, but also with art critic.

Volume 19
Paola Valenti
Klee erobert Italien
Italiens Kunstkritik über den Bilder-Zauberer
Klee Conquers Italy
Italy's Art Criticism of the Image Wizard
Cologne/Deiningen 2009
ISBN 978-3-939777-49-6
The independent character of Klee's art remained largely lost to Italian art criticism of the 1920s and 1930s. Only after 1945, in war-torn Europe, was it finally recognized as an "alternative world which one can cling to" (Valenti).

Volume 18
Klaus Honnef
Kunstkritik heute.
Texte zwischen Wertung und Werbung
Art Criticism Today.
Words between Assessment and Advertising
Köln/Deiningen 2008
ISBN 978-3-939777-39-7
After „Wege der Kunstkritik" (Volume 8 / 1999), the author now deals with the current "condition" of the practice of art criticism. He comes to the conclusion that private collectors have taken over as the art world's opinion leaders, a position once held by art criticism. Art criticism is only used by its proponents.

Volume 17
Walter Vitt / Christoph Zuschlag (Hg.)
Der Fall Arno Breker
Ein Kritiker-Disput zur Schweriner Ausstellung 2006
The Case of Arno Breker
A Critics' Dispute about the 2006 Schwerin Exhibition
Cologne/Nördlingen 2007
ISBN-10: 3-939777-20-X ; ISBN-13: 978-3-939777-20-S
This volume documents the discussion at AICA's annual meeting in Cologne marking the beginning of Art Cologne 2006. As the person responsible for the Breker exhibition in Schwerin, Rudolf Conrades defends his project. Among the critics, the attitude is predominantly dismissive, to the point of theorizing that art history could do without the "Führer's" favorite sculptor.

Volume 16
Dirk Schwarze
Die Expansion der documenta-Kritik
Eine Ausstellung im Spiegel der Presse
The expansion of documenta criticism
An exhibition in the light of the media
Köln/Nördlingen 2006
ISBN-10: 3-939777-05-6; ISBN-13: 978-3-939777-05-2
During the half century of its existence, the "documenta"
in Kassel has evolved from an art exhibition into a playing field for curators. The approach adopted by art critics has changed accordingly, now increasingly "taking on" the curators: critically, polemically, and even coarsely on occasion.

Volume 15
Isgard Kracht
Franz Marc – „entartet“, aber deutsch
Kunstberichte unterm Hakenkreuz II
Franz Marc - "Degenerate," but German.
Art Reportages Under the Swastika II
Nördlingen 2005
ISBN 3-936363-32-3
The second essay, after Hüneke's "The Case of Robert Scholz" (volume 11 of the edition), which deals with art reporting during the Hitler regime. The author documents the long years of indecision regarding the question as to if Marc in fact created "degenerate" images, or was a "German" artist.

Volume 14
Wieland Schmied
Das Rätsel de Chirico - Zerstörte Legenden, korrigierte Daten, gefälschte Bilder
The Mystery of de Chirico - Destroyed Legends, korrected Data, forged Pictures

Köln/Nördlingen 2004
ISBN 3-936363-23-4
All his life, the painter Giorgio de Chirico wove himself into legends and mystifications. He also believed in them. Wieland Schmied pursues many of these legends and attempts, successfully, to solve the mystery of de Chirico.

Walter Vitt
Palermo starb auf Kurumba
Wider die Schlampigkeiten in Kunstpublikationen
Palermo died on Kurumba.
Against the carelessness in art publications
Köln/Nördlingen 2003
ISBN 3-936363-10-2
The author laments the numerous biographical and technical mistakes found in artists’ lexica and catalogs which, via uncritical reproduction, mutate into "truths" due to the frequency of their appearances. Vitt no longer trusts the reliability of lexicographic work in the field of the arts.

Volume 12
Stefan Koldehoff
Meier-Graefes van Gogh
Wie Fiktionen zu Fakten werden
How fictions become facts

Cologne/Nördlingen 2002
ISBN 3-936363-05-6
To this day, many of the legends about Van Gogh which were "invented" by his first biographer, Julius Meier-Graefe, have managed to hold on in the literature about art. The author and editor plead for a critical approach to previous art texts.

Volume 11
Andreas Hüneke
Der Fall Robert Scholz
Kunstberichte unterm Hakenkreuz
The Case of Robert Scholz
Art Criticism under the Swastika
Cologne 2001
ISBN 3-9805962-9-X
Robert Scholz was art critic for the »Völkischer Beobachter« during the Hitler regime, head of the Headquarters for Fine Art under the race-ideologist Rosenberg, and museum director in Halle. For him, it was clearly about »having a share in the power«, according to Andreas Hüneke. His texts about art followed the Nazi ideology - even after 1945.

Volume 10
Wilfried Dörstel
Fabris kunstkritische Maximen
Der Wiedereintritt von Albrecht Fabris Kritik-Theorie
Fabris' art critical maxims
The reentry of Albrecht Fabris theory of critique
Cologne 2000
ISBN 3-9805962-7-3
Albrecht Fabri sees art criticism as a complement to artwork. The critic is productive based on others' productivity, as long as others' productivity has left something open.

Volume 9
Stefan Römer
Fake als Original
Ein Problem für die Kunstkritik
Fake as Original
A problem for art criticism
Cologne 1999 ISBN 3-9805962-6-5
The author deals with art criticism's far-reaching helplessness with regard to Appropriation Art, an art that - as with Sherrie Levine - openly appropriates existing art.

Volume 8
Klaus Honnef
Wege der Kunstkritik
Texte zwischen Theorie und Künstlerlob
Means of art criticism
Texts between theory and the praise oif artists
Cologne 1999 ISBN 3-9805962-5-7
Honnef rounds up his history of art criticism with the suggestion: criticism should not only deal with art-art but must also do this with visual culture in general.

Volume 7
Hanno Reuther
Himmel & Hölle: Beuys
Vier kritische Umrundungen 1977 bis 1987
Heaven and Hell: Beuys
Four ciritical discussions from 1977 to 1987
Cologne 1998
ISBN 3-9805962-4-9
In this volume with texts on Beuys spanning over a decade, it is not an artist's development which is depicted but rather that of a critic and his changing argumentative positions.

Volume 6
Andreas Hüneke / Carl Linfert
"Entartete Kunst"
Kommentar 1989/1996 zum Kommentar 1937
Degenerate Art
Annotation 1989/1996 to the comment of 1937
Cologne 1997 ISBN 3-9802827-9-1
In Linfert's text from 1937 Hüneke recognizes his own camouflaged writings from the GDR era and frees the famous critic colleague from the fellow traveler's odium during the NS period.

Volume 5
Heinrich Hahne
Sprache und Kunstkritik
Mit Denkversuchen von Kurt Leonhard
Language and Art Criticism
With deductive reasonings by Kurt Leonhard
Cologne 1997
ISBN 3-9802827-7-5
Hahne expects art critics to be capable of not verbally missing the subject. The correspondence of word and work structure is called for.

Volume 4
Sabine Schütz
Der "Lackmus-Test"
Zur Kunstkritik am Beispiel Kiefer
The "Lackmus-Test"
About art criticism using Kiefer as example
Cologne 1996
ISBN 3-9802827-4-0
Art criticism's overreaction is the striking characteristic of reception when it comes to Anselm Kiefer. Sabine Schütz investigates this polarity, taking international criticism into consideration as well.

Volume 3
Günter Feist
Option Gegenwehr
Korrektive zur Kunstpolitik in der DDR
Option Resistance
Correctives to the Art Polixy of the GDR
Cologne 1995
ISBN 3-9802827-3-2
Feist's lecture deals with events that accompanied the second banning of the Avantgarde in Germany and depicts how politics in the GDR handled the creators of these »disruptive images«.

Volume 2
Eduard Beaucamp
Ästhetische Bußpredigten
Mit Antworten von L. Gerdes, J.-C. Ammann und W. Schmalenbach
Penitential Sermons
Answers by L. Gerdes, J.-C. Ammann und W. Schmalenbach
Cologne 1994
ISBN 3-9802827-2-4
Eduard Beaucamp supports the thesis that the Modern is dead and fundamental, radical changes in the visual arts are not to be expected.

Volume 1
Alexander Jakimovic / Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen
Zentrum und Peripherie
Center and Peripherie

Cologne 1993
ISBN 3-9802827-0-8
Two lectures on the loss of central values, held at the Vienna AICA Art Critics Congress in 1992

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