New Additions Elementary Parts. From the Collections

Opening: 22 February, 7 pm

Elementary Parts. From the Collections is a permanent presentation at the Museum Angewandte Kunst that explores to what extent objects from the collection can lead to new narratives. It therefore does not refer to form, but rather prioritises a process that does not aim to impose a particular interpretative approach or stylistic-historical genre on the collection and its exhibits, but rather to open them up to observation: to enable them to tell a story. For Elementary Parts, exhibits were selected from all areas of the collection, geographies, and periods. Any classification according to genre, material, cultural-historical context, or chronology has been ruled out.

In recent years, the collections of the Museum Angewandte have expanded thanks to donations, loans, and purchases. From 22 February, visitors will be able to discover several new acquisitions in Elementary Parts:

Foto: Rainer Drexel © Museum Angewandte Kunst

A white cotton tablecloth is a unique piece of music history. It features autographs and drawings by the Beatles and singer Joan Baez – these were made before the Beatles’ final concert on 29 August 1966 in Candlestick Park, San Francisco. The changing rooms of the American football and baseball stadium served as a dining room for the musicians, where Joe Vilardi’s local catering company served the food. As they sat at the table in the dressing room, eating and waiting to take to the stage one last time, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Joan Baez left their marks for posterity on the tablecloth with portraits, autographs, faces, eyes, and indefinable creatures. After the concert, Joe Vilardi hung the tablecloth in his shop window, from where it was stolen not long afterwards before disappearing for many years. More than 50 years later, Joe Vilardi’s grandson, Michael Vilardi, received a call from Texas from a person who owned the tablecloth after a family member had received it as a settlement for a debt in the 1970s. The tablecloth was returned to its rightful owner, who put it up for auction in 2022.

In 2010, the artist Olaf Nicolai commissioned the weaving of an extremely colourful silk curtain in Crimmitschau, Saxony, and called this work Warum Frauen gerne Stoffe kaufen, die sich gut anfühlen (Why women like to buy fabrics that feel good). This title is a free translation of a study by Elias Smith (* 13 February 1901 in Vienna; † 30 August 1976 in New York City, USA) from 1937, which deals with the behaviour of female consumers when buying fabrics. “Elias Smith” is a pseudonym used by the sociologist Paul Felix Lazarsfeld after his emigration to the USA. Together with Marie Jahoda and Hans Zeisel, Lazarsfeld wrote the first long-term study on the consequences of unemployment in the 20th century: The Unemployed of Marienthal.
In Marienthal, which lies east of Vienna, almost all workers became unemployed between 1926 and 1932 due to the collapse of what was once one of the largest textile factories in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The study, which is still considered a milestone in the development of empirical social research, forms the starting point for Nicolai’s complex network of references, ranging from the demise of the textile industry to the development of consumer needs and psychological studies on the tactile perception of fabrics. The object was already on display at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in 2015/2016 in the exhibition Secret Compartments.

Foto: Axel Schneider © Museum Angewandte Kunst
© Kai Linke

Designer Kai Linke, who lives in Frankfurt am Main, often bases his design solutions on the properties of the material: pourable, pliable or solid, reflective, opaque or translucent. His designs also frequently refer to the semantic character of objects beyond their function. This is also the case with Mirror Chair (2009), which serves more as a commentary than an object of utility and will be part of Elementary Parts from 22 February. Created from two monobloc plastic chairs that have been fused together, the object obviously shows its origins as a chair, but no longer functions as such because it clearly prevents anyone from sitting down on the seat. Moreover, it appears as if two pieces of furniture are holding hands or mirroring each other’s former existence as a chair.

A further new addition to the Elementary Parts is a jug with handle and lid (1923/24) by Frankfurt architect and designer Ferdinand Kramer (1898-1985). Simple shapes, inexpensive materials, and high-quality production that guarantees longevity form the criteria of Kramer’s work. The items were intended for consumers who were economical with their money but still wanted to furnish their homes tastefully. With his numerous simple and extremely practical designs for objects such as furniture, lights and, door fittings for municipal housing in Frankfurt as well as individual buildings, Ferdinand Kramer characterised a democratic modernism of design in Frankfurt during the 1920s, which would later be known as Das Neue Frankfurt (The New Frankfurt). The lidded jug was last on display in the exhibition Loving Kramer at the Museum Angewandte Kunst from 4 November 2023 to 28 January 2024.

© Museum Angewandte Kunst