The Concept of the Kunstverein
The Kunstverein Braunschweig, founded in 1832, is now one of the most renowned institutions of its type in Germany, annually presenting eight solo or group shows featuring important international present-day artists.
Its primary goal is the advancement of young artists within the discourse of contemporary art. The Kunstverein Braunschweig comprehends itself as a lively site of exchanges and dialogues. One of our main concerns is transmitting the potentials involved in contemporary art production, and we go about this aim by way publishing exhibition catalogues, in lecture series, gallery talks and guided tours.
Parallel to the programme in the Villa Salve Hospes itself, four exhibitions have been shown annually in the adjacent “Remise” (Coach House) since 1996. As a field for experimentation it serves as a platform four young artistic positions and curatorial projects.
The Villa Salve Hospes – an early classicistic town house
The Kunstverein has resided since 1946 on Lessingplatz in the Villa Salve Hospes, which was built from 1805 to 1808 by the architect Peter Joseph Krahe in the classicistic style as a private merchant’s house. With its clear and simple spatial concept it is linked to the grand tradition of Venetian villas dating from the Renaissance and its immediate model is Andrea Palladio’s Villa Rotonda in Vicenza.
The inner spatial concept is based on a central sequence of rooms and the resulting vertical and horizontal sightlines. The most striking feature of the house is the sightline from the main entrance to the park with its landscape reference. A generously sized rectangular space opens up from the entrance rotunda whose three large French doors look out over a raised terrace to the landscape. At the same time the rotunda opens up the adjacent sightlines to the left and right, making the parcours through the house possible. The rotunda itself is the central start and end point of these sightlines through the rooms. A total of almost 400 square meters exhibition space is available on the building’s two floors.
The Villa as Home of the Kunstverein
Over and above their origins in the first half of the 19th century, the Villa Salve Hospes and the Kunstverein both have ties to the architect Peter Joseph Krahe. Together with other residents of Braunschweig, Krahe belongs to the founding members of the “Association of Art Friends,” which as the forerunner of the present-day Kunstverein is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in Germany. Krahe was active as a member of this association’s board until his death in 1840, serving as its chairman since 1834. The association initially exhibited in other buildings, among them the Vieweg House on Burgplatz, until it found a permanent home in the Villa Salve Hospes after World War II. ...
The building’s historical state could be preserved thanks to its use for art exhibits. The necessary technical installations were cautiously carried out in the sense of landmark preservation and made no changes to the disposition of the interior spaces and their decorations.
Even now, the encounter between the classicistic building and the contemporary artworks exhibited inside result in an exceedingly interesting dialogue. The home of an art-loving Braunschweig merchant that was already originally open to all interested parties would later still stand in the tradition of its intended purpose with its new function as home of the Kunstverein Braunschweig.
(Petra Sophia Zimmermann)