Craft is Cactus The Collection from 1945 to Today

6 November 2021 – 27 March 2022

Foto/Photo: Franziska Krieck © Museum Angewandte Kunst

Encompassing over 700 works from the international collection of the Museum Angewandte Kunst, this exhibition offered a new exploratory look at a range of items from a contemporary perspective. For the first time the museum was undertaking a reflective overview of works craftsmanship in its collection while examining the interface between art and design. What does craftsmanship mean today? This question was posed anew and reassessed in the context of the exhibition. The title underscored the ambiguous reputation of craft as an artistic discipline, while ironically playing on the ingenious survival traits of the “cactus” to express the future potential of the hand-made and its relation to art.

Installed before the backdrop of Richard Meier’s architecture, the exhibition made use of a tension between arising from a depot-like presentation and displays that visualized that theme of craftsmanship and its contemporary standards and classifications. This arrangement innovatively allowed visitors to make comparisons from different perspectives, to experience the impact of craftsmanship, and to make hypotheses in terms of its contemporary relevance. The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue that illuminates works of craftsmanship and revels in the discovery of materials.

The publication includes Sandra Doeller’s design, the photographic images of Franziska Krieck, and texts by various authors and professionals. The catalogue is thus not simply a documentation of the collection but an artistic interpretation, a work-in-print, and also a reader.

The exhibition was supported by the Hessische Kulturstiftung and the Polytechnische Gesellschaft e.V.

Curator: Dr. Sabine Runde

Designed by Sandra Doeller and featuring the photographic perspectives of Franziska Krieck, a catalogue for the exhibition was published. It examines the developments in arts and crafts from the second half of the 20th century onwards, using the collection of the Museum Angewandte Kunst as an example. True-to-scale reproductions of plates, furniture, cutlery, jewellery or vases surprise the reader with the diversity of their appearances. In their essays, ten authors take different approaches to the broad terrain of arts and crafts: from the connection between East Asia and Western ceramics, to the handicrafts of the Romantic period, to the adventure of arts and crafts. In this way, the catalogue not only fulfils the wish for an inventory catalogue, but also becomes a graphically interpreted print object and reading book.

Authors of the catalogue: Nora von Achenbach, Rike Felka, Christiane Holm, Eva Linhart, Ellen Maurer Zilioli, Sabine Runde, Christina Schroeter-Herrel, Beatrijs Sterk, Christianne Weber-Stöber, Matthias Wagner K

Publishing house: arnoldsche Art Publishers

Design: Bureau Sandra Doeller