Essay on documenta research

Research results published on the contaminated origins of documenta

The contaminated origins of documenta are the subject of ongoing debates. At the documenta Institut, they are also the subject of ongoing research. Maria Neumann has now published her initial research results in the renowned journal Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft.

In the essay In zweifelhafter Gesellschaft? Adolf Arndt und August-Martin Euler - zwei vergangenheitspolitische Akteure der ersten documenta 1955, Maria Neumann looks at two founding figures of documenta's global success who were active in the background of the exhibition. As members of the "Gesellschaft für Abendländische Kunst des XX. Jahrhunderts e.V.", the supporting association of the first documenta, the two post-war politicians supported the ambitious art project with their resources. But while Adolf Arndt had to perform forced labor under National Socialism as a "non-Aryan" with Jewish roots, August-Martin Euler made a career in industry and was involved in the exploitation of concentration camp prisoners.

What influence did these two politicians with such different backgrounds have on an exhibition that at that time could still pretend to be about art alone? And what does the collaboration between Arndt and Euler for documenta tell us about art and culture in Germany in the years after the war? Maria Neumann explores these questions in her essay.

The article was published in the February issue of Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, a specialist journal for historians that has been published since 1953. The issue with Maria Neumann's article is available in the Metropol-Verlag online store.

Maria Neumann has been researching the contaminated origins of documenta at the documenta Institute since 2021. Her talks with Claudia C. Gatzka on Art and Society in Italy and Germany: Anti-Fascism or Post-Fascism? and with Carlo Gentile and Vincenza Benedettino on The Haftmann Case: From Perpetration to Success can be found on the YouTube channel of the documenta Institut. In April 2024, the volume "Bruch und Kontinuität. Kunst und Kulturpolitik nach dem Nationalsozialismus", which she is co-editing with Felix Vogel will be published at Hatje Cantz Verlag.