Our present-day world hardly knows boundaries any longer. A simple mouse click connects us virtually with other countries, time zones and cultures - we visually take part in the lives of others via Skype and can now be at two places simultaneously. The communications theoretician Marshall McLuhan early on coined a term to describe this development - the Global Village. The actual distances will first become tangible again when non-European societies boast cultural and aesthetic cravings for recognition that differ from Western notions. The contours of modernism in the Western sense seem to be dissolving.
The cultural interactions in this Global Village give rise to new questions about modernism that also concern its currency within its original Western context. Pluralism has not only taken hold of art in the 21st century but also forms of society and government, lifestyles and religious orientations. Are modernism’s concepts in fact outdated against this backdrop? Are not the roots of our culture in fact to be found in the profile of modern society as it evolved over the course of the Enlightenment and industrialization? The advances made by scientific research corresponded to the aesthetic revolution in 20th-century classic modern art. Abstraction asserted itself up to the point of freeing form from the object and color from form. Modernity as the expression of the zeitgeist: transient and fleeting.
The Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014 with a large-scale Kokoschka exhibition, but is it also taking the opportunity to conduct special thematic explorations and is setting off in search of traces in its own collection. The museum has been collecting international contemporary art with emphases on Minimal Art, Conceptual Art, Arte Povera, Body Art and Media Art since 1994. The collection presentation Traces of Modernism will be shown on an exhibition area encompassing circa 1000 square meters on the museum’s upper gallery spaces.