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date: 19 August 2019


  • Thomas P. McNulty


International art exhibition held since 1955 every four to five years in the German city of Kassel (and subsequently other venues as well), which features avant-garde art and culture. Each exhibition lasts for 100 days and its primary exhibition space is in the Museum Fridericianum. Since its inception, the focus of documenta became increasingly global, culminating in the election of the first non-European artistic director, Nigerian-born Okwui Enwezor (b 1963), who organized documenta11 (8 June–15 September 2002).

The first documenta exhibition was held in 1955 at the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel and exhibited work by 148 artists, attracting 130,000 visitors. Its aim, under director Arnold Bode (1900–77), was to exhibit avant-garde art which had been banned under Nazis as ‘degenerate art’. The second installment of documenta (1959), directed by Bode and Werner Haftmann, took as its subject the artworks produced during the 14-year period following the end of World War II. By contrast, documenta III (...

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