Published  01/06/2006

Lessons on contemporary art

It seems, notwithstanding the dramatic and soul-searching (and mind-blocking) rehang at Tate Modern, that the gentler approach of the Van Abbe Museum provides a no less powerful vindication of modern art. This is timely, since, this year, the Eindhoven museum is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its creation. The exhibition, 'What happened to Art', looks at developments since 1955, tracing in full chronology the most prominent trends in later 20th-century art. Works by Mario Merz, Asger Jorn and Cobra artists are accompanied by works by Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Gunther Uecker, Donald Judd and Carl Andre. The paintings of Jorg Immendorff, AR Penck and Sigmar Polke give a vindication for the future of painting as a medium. Curators Charles Esche and Christiane Berndes are to be congratulated on this well-balanced and non-partisan tour de force. This exhibition runs through to 17 September 2006. It is accompanied by 'Living Archive: Meanwhile … behind the scenes', which refers back to moments of controversy and various developments from the museum's history; and, somewhat transparently, records those moments other museums choose to forget.

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