The SCHIRN 2017 exhibition year will be very varied with shows ranging from classical Modernist pieces to absolutely contemporary works.


FEBRUARY 10–JUNE 5, 2017

René Magritte (1898–1967) conjures enigmatic paintings. In this concentrated solo exhibition devoted to the great Belgian Surrealist, the SCHIRN explores his relationship to the philosophical currents of his time. Magritte did not see himself as an artist, but rather as a thinking human being who conveyed his thoughts through his painting. Throughout his life he sought to imbue painting with meaning equal to that of language. Driven by his curiosity and his affinities with some of the leading philosophers of his age, such as Michael Foucault, he created a remarkable body of work and developed an altered view of the world that is reflected in a unique combination of accurate, masterful painting and conceptual processes. The exhibition sheds light on Magritte’s most important pictorial formulas, which deal with the myth of invention and the definition of painting.


FEBRUARY 24–MAY 14, 2017

He is the “first Austrian Expressionist,” and for many he continues to be an insiders’ tip: the painter Richard Gerstl (1883–1908). He died at the young age of 25 and is mentioned in the same breath as the great masters of Viennese Modernism: Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka. During his brief lifetime, the artist created an exciting and unusual, though relatively limited body of work consisting of some 80 artworks and featuring a number impressive highlights and pioneering innovations. The SCHIRN is presenting the first extensive German retrospective devoted to Richard Gerstl, comprising nearly all of his known works. It is the oeuvre of a seeker, an artist who anticipated much of what was later articulated by other artists. Gerstl painted merciless, self-confident pictures that owe allegiance to no models and continue to be as unique as ever to this day.

Richard Gerstl, Die Familie Schönberg, End of July, 1908, Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien


APRIL 28–JULY 30, 2017

Lena Henke is fascinated with the systems and structures of urban life as it is inscribed with its everyday stories in the streetscape, in buildings, in and façades. The significance of these symbols wanes with the passing years. Removed and at best liberated from their context, they are often mere clichés that remind us of an original idea. In a predominantly minimalistic formal language, the artist augments her focus on such transformation processes and her dominant interest in architecture, urban planning, Land Art, human relationships, sexuality, and fetishes with subtle references to art history. She will develop a work specifically for the Rotunda of the SCHIRN in which interior and exterior merge and in which she underscores the unique character of this freely accessible space.

LENA HENKE, Detail of Torch Handle Pendant - Statue of Liberty Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division



Peter Saul deliberately broke the rules of good taste long before “Bad Painting” became a central focus of contemporary art. Working with his own unique language beginning in the late 1950s, the American painter developed a blend of Pop Art, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, San Francisco Funk, and cartoon culture in which he addressed social and political issues. Saul shared Pop Art’s focus on the commonplace, consumer society, and the lighthearted imagery of comics and clothed it in appealing, radiant colors. Yet his art is also associated with the aesthetic strategies of California counterculture. Viewers are confronted with an almost angry style of painting when Saul addresses the dark side of the American Dream, revealing the simultaneity of exaggerated humor and playful yet harsh criticism of the prevailing system.

Peter Saul, Ronald Reagan in Grenada, 1984, © Hall Collection. Image courtesy of Hall Art Foundation, Photo: Jeffrey Nintzel


JUNE 30–SEPTEMBER 24, 2017

Doves, rainbow colors, and rifles adorned with flowers—depictions of peace are usually limited to standard clichés and familiar symbols. In a discursive group exhibition, the SCHIRN pursues a different approach and addresses the question of how peace actually works. Proceeding from the premise that peace is reflected most clearly in processes of interaction and communication among people and among all of the players in the ecosystem, the exhibition focuses on phenomena that have always contributed to making human (co-)existence possible and sustainable. A large number of works by international artists offer a new, contemporary perspective on the subject of peace. The exhibition will be accompanied by numerous live events, including poetry readings, concerts, lectures, and cooking sessions in which visitors are invited to take part. The program will be developed in collaboration with the participating artists.

Katja Novitskova, Pattern of Activation (planetary bonds), 2015, Detail, Courtesy the artist and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin, Photo © Katja Novitskova


OCTOBER 6, 2017–JANUARY 21, 2018

The SCHIRN is presenting a major exhibition devoted to the cultural history of vision in cooperation with the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. It focuses on the diorama, which is used to reconstruct and realistically stage events, stories, and settings with the aid of various artistic means. Conceived in the 19th century by the French painter and trailblazer of photography Louis Daguerre as a playhouse enlivened with light effects, it became the glass display case par excellence for the illustration of knowledge in museums of natural history. It has served as an essential source of inspiration from the modern period to the present: numerous artists of the 20th and 21st centuries have dealt with staged forms of vision in their works by questioning and deconstructing the diorama and the illusion of reconstructed reality. 

Man With Buffalo, Ottawa 2007 © Photo: Richard Barnes


OCTOBER 27, 2017–FEBRUARY 25, 2018

The Weimar Republic spanned a period marked by social tensions, political struggles, and social upheavals as well as artistic revolutions and innovations. The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is devoting a major thematic exhibition to German art from 1918 to 1933. Numerous artists created memorable records of the stories of their contemporaries in their own unique styles. Realistic, ironic, and grotesque works illustrate the struggle for democracy and paint a picture of a society in the midst of crisis and transition. The exhibition features some 200 artworks by both famous and previously little-known artists—Max Beckmann, Kate Diehn-Bitt, Otto Dix, Dodo, Conrad Felixmüller, George Grosz, Carl Grossberg, Hans and Lea Grundig, Karl Hubbuch, Lotte Laserstein, Alice Lex-Nerlinger, Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, Jeanne Mammen, Oskar Nerlinger, Franz Radziwill, Christian Schad, Rudolf Schlichter, Georg Scholz, and Richard Ziegler. Along with historical photographs, films, periodicals, and posters, the SCHIRN is presenting a striking panorama of the art of the Weimar Republic.



The Schirn Kunsthalle has been a forum for German and international filmmakers and video artists for more than four years. In keeping with the motto “Double Feature,” the artists present a work from their oeuvre and a film of their choice to the audience on the last Monday of the month. Following their presentations, they offer deeper insights into their art and their cinematic interests in an interview with series curators Katharina Dohm and Matthias Ulrich. The SCHIRN has already included more than 50 artists in the “Double Feature” series, for example, Ed Atkins, Nevin Aladağ, Luke Fowler, Melanie Gilligan, Heather Phillipson, Anri Sala, and Timur Si-Qin. Screenings by Eli Cortiñas, Beatrice Gibson, Mélanie Matranga, and other artists are planned for 2017. Extensive interviews with the artists have been posted online on the SCHIRN’s YouTube channel since October 2016.


FEBRUARY 16–MAY 27, 2018

Basquiat (1960–1988) is acknowledged today as one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. Having come of age in the post-punk underground art scene in Lower Manhattan, he conquered the art world and gained widespread international recognition, becoming the youngest artist ever to participate in the documenta in Kassel in 1982. Basquiat’s raw, vibrant imagery bears witness to his encyclopedic interests and his experience as a young artist with no formal training. More than 30 years after Basquiat’s last major exhibition in Germany, the SCHIRN is presenting a major survey devoted to this American artist, organized in collaboration with the Barbican Art Gallery, London. The exhibition is also the first to focus on Basquiat’s relationship to music, text, film, and television, situating the artist’s formidable talents within a broader cultural context.