In the 1960s, the Rhineland was an important focus for massive changes in contemporary art. A new internationally networked  generation of artists turned away from traditional notions of art. Inspiration came from everyday life. Everyday objects became the material for art. These artists worked in urban contexts,  they broke across  the borders between disciplines, and they collaborated with musicians, writers, filmmakers and dancers. 

Art into Life! Collector Wolfgang Hahn and the 60s
November 10, 2017 - April 22, 2018
mumok - Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien

Cologne restorer  Wolfgang Hahn (1924–1987) was right up with the times, and he began  to collect this new art. Over the years his collection grew to become one of the most significant collections of contemporary art, with works of nouveau réalisme, Fluxus, happenings, Pop art, and conceptual art.

The Collector and Initiator Wolfgang Hahn
Hahn was chief restorer  at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, and later at Museum Ludwig in Cologne. Before training as a restorer,  he spent  five years studying art history. It was his work as a collector and disseminator of art—and as a host—that made him well known. He lived as the avant-garde demanded—art and life were one and the same  thing for him. His interest in art did not end when the working day was over. He undertook  gallery tours and then carried on into the night in his own home, where artists were regular guests. His widow Hildegard Helga Hahn recalls living with art: “This was our everyday life, our normality. There were countless evenings like this, and they were all interesting and inspiring.” This is how the Hahns’ semi- detached house  came to fill up with works by the most important artists of the

1960s. The staircase, the living room and bedroom, utility rooms, basement and garden  and even the tiny guest  bathroom  all became exhibition spaces for the artworks the Hahns purchased, including works by Arman, Joseph  Beuys, George Brecht, John Cage, Christo, Jim Dine, Robert Filliou, Allan Kaprow, Yayoi Kusama, Gordon Matta-Clark, Claes Oldenburg, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Niki de Saint Phalle, Daniel Spoerri, Paul Thek, Jean Tinguely, Franz Erhard Walther, Andy Warhol, Lawrence Weiner, Wolf Vostell, and many more.

In Cologne Hahn was a key initiator. The first presentation of his collection in 1968 was like a bombshell. This exhibition entitled The Hahn Collection. Contemporary Art in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum was a sign of Cologne’s rising star as an international metropolis for contemporary art.

Hahn was a truly handsome young man, mostly impeccably dressed in a blue suit. He was always the first to arrive, often coming to the galleries before the exhibitions opened. If he liked the works he saw, he bought  them. When Daniel Spoerri was traveling with his Suitcase in the early 1960s and showed  it in Cologne, Hahn was there. Following his chronicler’s instinct, he later bought  the case.  His aim was not to somehow  consolidate his own taste or some status  quo. Hahn took risks when he bought  and sold art. His collection grew and grew, and he sold items to make way for new ones.

Coming from the perspective of a restorer  and art historian, Hahn saw art in historical contexts.  He made records  of what was going on and he collected not only works but also publications and documents. His art collection, his archive, and his library witness his time, offering a new view of art in the 1960s and 1970s, beyond the usual art-historical and geographical ascriptions.

mumok  Acquires the Hahn Collection
In 1978, mumok was able to purchase part of the Hahn collection, and in 2003 a further purchase brought  the whole collection together. Then, in 2005, Hildegard Hahn made mumok a gift of Hahn’s library. T0gether,  collection, archive and library show the complexity of art in the 1960s. Working together with Museum Ludwig Cologne, in 2017 the Hahn Collection will be shown in its entirety to the public for the first time.

Allan Kaprow: Push and Pull
Re-Invention by Eva Chytilek and Jakob Neulinger
In 1963, Allan Kaprow devised the environment Push and Pull. A Furniture Comedy for Hans Hofmann. Hans Hofmann had had great influence on his generation with his proverbial “push and pull” teaching  methodology. According to this method,  the composition of a picture should consist equally of static and dynamic elements, of geometrical and free forms, and of emerging aggressive and receding passive color tones—a constant forward and backward.  Kaprow’s environment was a parody of these  formalisms. Following instructions, visitors to his 1963 presentation were able to move items of furniture to and fro in the spirit of Hofmann‘s abstract teaching methods. In later presentations, Kaprow required new interpretations of the work (re- inventions), which was based around a box with instructions written on card boards, which today are part of the Wolfgang Hahn Collection at mumok.

For the exhibition Art into Life artists Eva Chytilek and Jakob Neulinger have created a re-interpretation of Kaprow’s work. In the very same  space where Kaprow last re- invented his own work in 2002, Chytilek and Neulinger draw on his approach. They mount instruction boards  on the walls and place a carpet  on the floor that deliberately extends  beyond the space of the exhibition surface.  This carpet  serves as a stage  on which visitors can engage with and make use of the setting and sculptural objects provided by the artists. The visitors are expected to change and design this space themselves. This Re-Invention by Chytilek and Neulinger also expands Kaprow’s proposal into virtual space. Under hashtag #push&pull exhibition visitors are invited to document their own re-inventions on Instagram. Among those who do this mumok will organize a prize draw and winners will receive exhibition catalogues and annual tickets for the museum.

Curated by Susanne Neuburger (mumok) and Barbara Engelbach (Museum Ludwig Cologne).

This exhibition is in cooperation with Museum Ludwig Cologne, where it has been  on show in adapted form from June 24 to September 24, 2017. A comprehensive publication on the exhibition has been  published.