Dr. Konstanze Rudert
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

About the project

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden’s research project (2009-2014), initiated by Ferdinand-Möller-Stiftung, is dedicated to the art critic, author, advocate, the ‘networker’ of modern art, Will Grohmann (1887-1968), whose extensive archive and papers have been at Staatsgalerie Stuttgart since 1970. The main goal was a conceptual visual presentation of the results of the research, i.e., an exhibition, about Grohmann. The objective was an art exhibition, which is why one focus of the research was a systematic search in the papers for those works of art that had first been written about by Grohmann, that he advocated and helped place in exhibitions, and/or that were part of his private collection.

The extensive materials that had to be analysed thematically take up about 26 metres of shelf space at the Stuttgart archive (typescripts, collections of materials, and correspondence). We also researched in numerous other archives. The amount of relevant data found was structured during the preliminary scholarly works in an interdisciplinary research group. Several foci emerged at that stage: registering the correspondence with more than 2,500 partners (persons and institutions throughout the world), researching, digitalising, and entering about 1,700 newspaper and journal articles by Will Grohmann into a databank, as well as registering 4,600 tittles from the art historical part of Grohmann’s library, which became part of the library of Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in 1970. A total of 2,086 publications by Will Grohmann were entered into a bibliography, and about 400 art works were identified as having belonged to his private collection. Furthermore, film and sound documents of Will Grohmann’s were searched out in various film and radio archives.

Seminars by the exhibition curator Dr. Konstanze Rudert at Technische Universität Dresden (2008/09) and joint courses with Prof. Dr. Martin Schieder from the Institut für Kunstgeschichte der Universität Leipzig (2009/10) attracted students who engaged in research of various topics linked to Grohmann. At the same time, students and faculty of media computer studies at Technische Universität Dresden (associated with professors Rainer Groh and Hermann Härtig) and with scholars of geoinformatics at Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (Dipl.-Ing. Ines Schwarzbach) developed and realised various projects for the use of new media in the exhibition. In this way, we succeeded in interesting young students in the humanities and media computer studies in the Grohmann project, and to bring them together and support them in cooperating.

Students of art history were given the task of engaging with Will Grohmann’s relationship to individual artists he fostered and supported through ‘picture histories’. The best works by students were integrated into the catalogue. Some students worked on the project as research assistants, and they will also be available to explain works in the exhibition to visitors throughout the run of the exhibition. In addition, the seminars and classes led to a number of internships in media informatics (Technische Universität Dresden) as well as MA theses in art history at universities in Dresden, Leipzig, and Berlin.

Looking ahead

After the exhibition “In the Network of Modernism” closes in January 2013, the research project on Will Grohmann will continue. As in previous years, the Ferdinand-Möller-Stiftung will continue to support the work. The goal is to end the project by the end of 2015 with the publication of a comprehensive scholarly biography of Will Grohmann.