Then, in 1992, Ann and Jürgen Wilde offered their comprehensive collection to the Sprengel Museum Hannover on permanent loan.
A year later, Thomas Weski established a department devoted to Photography and New Media at the museum, which, since 2001, has been directed by Inka Schube.
From 1993 on, works have been purchased regularly for the museum’s collection of Photography and New Media with the intention, long-term, of accumulating groups of works by leading international photographers who have left an indelible impression on the art world since the 1970s. Numerous presentations of both contemporary and historical photography have been on view at the museum since then. In this context, one-man shows devoted to Judith Joy Ross, Nicholas Nixon, John Gossage, Stephen Shore, Thomas Ruff, Heinrich Riebesehl, Gisèle Freund, El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodtschenko, Max Baumann, Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, Thierry Geoffroy-Colonel, Stephan Balkenhol, Heidi Specker, Helga Paris, Luc Delahaye, Boris Mikhailov, Hans-Peter Feldmann and Helen Levitt have been presented at the Sprengel Museum Hannover. Most of these shows have also been documented in the form of catalogues accompanying the exhibitions.
During the World’s Fair, EXPO 2000, the Sprengel Museum Hannover exhibited, in co-operation with the organisers of the fair, EXPO 2000 Hannover GmbH, and with support from the Niedersächsischen Sparkassenstiftung, a large-scale exhibition entitled “How you look at it – 20th Century Photography“.
Comprehensive exhibitions of contemporary photography have been realised since 1995 in co-operation with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, such as “Einheit“ (Unity) by Michael Schmidt as well as marking the occasion of the awarding of the “Spectrum“ International Photography Award funded by the Stiftung Niedersachsen, which was awarded to Robert Adams (1995), Thomas Struth (1997), John Baldessari (1999), Sophie Calle (2002), Martha Rosler (2005) and Helen Levitt (2008). Thematic exhibitions such as “Soziale Kreaturen – Wie Körper Kunst wird“ ("Social Creatures- Body Art") have taken the photographic medium into dialogue with other visual media.
The Ann und Jürgen Wilde collection consists of c. 1500 original photographs: through loans from this private collection, solo exhibitions of works by Albert Renger-Patzsch and Karl Blossfeldt as well as group shows featuring works by August Sander, Florence Henri, Friedrich Seidenstücker, Duane Michals, David Hockney, Germaine Krull, Aenne Biermann und others have been made possible. Starting in 2005, artists have been invited to work within the confines of this unique collection. This resulted in, for example, Heidi Specker’s piece “Bangkok“ in 2005, in which she entered into a visual dialogue with photographs made by Germaine Krull in the 1940s and 1950s.
In addition to mounting these exhibitions, the museum has regularly combined works in its collection beyond the confines of categories. This resulted in exhibitions devoted to, i.e. Otto Dix and August Sander, Karl Blossfeldt and Hans Arp, Hilla and Bernd Becher, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, Nicholas Nixon and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Anne and Bernhard Johannes Blume and Richard Deacon, Henk Visch and Franz Gertsch, also incorporating painting, such as Wolfgang Tillmans’ site-specific work “Sprengel Installation (+4)” and the special presentation of works from the collection organised by Thomas Ruff are but a few examples of these exhibitions incorporating diverse media. These exhibitions place the Sprengel Museum Hannover in a group of the few European museums of contemporary art that regularly show photography as an art form unto itself, collect such works and integrate it into their permanent collection.
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