The Kunsthalle of Bielefeld is a surprisingly large exhibition hall with a special style: it was built in 1968 in International Style (a modernist architecture style developed in the 1920/30s) by architect Philip Johnson from the United States. It is the only building in Europe designed by him. The Kunsthalle is an art exhibition hall with changing exhibitions, but it also owns an art collection from the 20th century.

Predecessor was the Städtisches Kunsthaus created in the year 1928. A lot of important works owned by the Städtisches Kunsthaus were lost in 1937 the Nazis seized many works and labelled them degenerate art (‘Entartete Kunst’). The new building was partially financed by local industrial Rudolf-August Oetker from Bielefeld, his products can still today be found in supermarkets under the well-known brand ‘Dr. Oetker’.

The contract with Oetker included naming the Kunsthalle after his stepfather, it was therefore labelled Richard-Kaselowsky-Haus. Until 2017 Richard Kaselowsky was remembered on a memorial plaque in the entrance hall which is quite a surprise as there has been a large dispute: Kaselowsky was member of the NSDAP and the Freundeskreis Reichsführer SS and thereby actively involved in the Nazi regime. With that he couldn’t be the eponym of the Kunsthalle and especially not of a cultural institution that has lost so many works to the Nazis.

The Kunsthalle is located close to the city center of Bielefeld and is surrounded by a garden decorated with many statues. The exhibition area itself is rather large for a city like Bielefeld and consists of two levels plus a large underground cinema. When I was there the Kunsthalle was showing abstract works focussed on colour and composition. Not my most beloved art exhibition, but this is definitely a place to return to.

Kunsthalle Bielefeld
Artur-Ladebeck-Straße 5
33602 Bielefeld


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