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The contemporary art centre, or Kunsthalle, is now a ubiquitous sight in cities around the world. Abstaining from the usual practice of establishing a permanent collection of artworks, these centres instead base their entire operation around a perpetuating series of contemporary exhibitions and events. This book provides the first comprehensive overview of the history and development of the contemporary art centre as an architectural and cultural phenomenon. The need for an authoratitive text on the history of non-collecting institutions could not be more timely, with institutions the world over placing increasing importance on travelling exhibitions and ’Blockbusters'. The study traces the development of the contemporary art centre from its genesis in eighteenth-century Germany, where Kunsthallen were first established as arenas for groups of contemporary artists (Kunstvereine) to exhibit their work to the public. These Kunsthallen have often been characterised as the smaller, provincial cousin to the permanent art museum, but this study instead highlights the manner in which various Kunsthallen in fact served as crucial intermediaries between artists and their publics, and emphasises the commercial function of these early centres. The narrative then traces other key developments in the nineteenth century, focusing on key examples in Europe, before shifting focus in the twentieth century onto the increasingly global nature of art centres, and the development of centres outside the traditional western arts ’capitals’, for example in Asia and Australia. Finally, this study challenges the assumption that contemporary art centres are simply an institutional sub-category of the art museum; a correlation which assumes that innovations within the latter inevitably and unilaterally trickle down to the former.
About the Author
Damian A. Lentini is Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Shifting Centres 1. Commercial Centres 2. Ideological Centres 3. Contemporary Centres 4. Alternative Centres 5. Institutional Centres 6. Global Centres Epilogue