Germany just got one more attraction for the international art world. Die Kunsthalle Mannheim is a 68,3 million Euro project, backed by German billionaire Hans Werner Hector of SAP for modern and contemporary art, is going to be “a place for debates” as director Ulrike Lorenz put it. Hector donated nearly $ 60 million to the project through his and his wive’s foundation. SAP based in neighbouring Walldorf, where entrepreneur John Jacob Astor was born.
Designed by architects Gerkan, Marg and Partners out of Hamburg, who also created Berlin’s new Hauptbahnhof and the Olympic stadion, Die Kunsthalle is a behemoth of glass, woven steel and concrete. It features seven separate halls for exhibitions, cuboid galleries which are grouped around a 22-metre-high atrium with a glass roof and views onto the city attached to a historic wing with a spectacular marble stair case. The opening ceremony in the the new 140,000-square-foot extension took several days, which is unheard of within the German art scene.
Some 32,000 visitors attended the grand opening, forcing security teams to close the gates three times. However, the quality of the present collection would justify almost any exuberance: an enormous series by Anselm Kiefer, several Giacomettis, Cézannes and Kandinskys and – perhaps most notably, the inaugural exhibition of large-format conceptual photographs by Jeff Wall (born 1946) titled “Appearance”. This impressive exhibition of staged photography was curated by Sebastian Baden in cooperation with Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean.
Photography by Afraa Zammam