Curator, art professor, painter, designer, interior designer: To summarize Arnold Bode‘s life in a short text is virtually impossible. Too varied were his interests, too great the urge, wanting to change and create something constantly.
Education Bode was born in 1900 in Kassel, where he began to study painting and graphics in 1919 at the Art Academy. After the state examination to become an art teacher, he moved to Berlin. There he taught sculpture and painting at the Städtische Werklehrer-Seminar, where he became deputy director in 1931. Two years later, Bode was banned from working as an artist and was discharged – a result of the Nazi rule.
Foundation of the Werkakademie After the war, Arnold Bode moved with his wife Marie-Louise (Marlou) and their children back to his hometown Kassel. There he founded the Werkakademie in 1948 – after the former art school had been closed by the Nazis. Until the sixties, Bode worked as a professor for painting.
Start of the documenta Bode had the idea for the documenta for a long time. The National Garden Festival in 1955 offered the perfect occasion. The venue chosen was the museum Fridercianum which was destroyed in the war – and he wrote history wit the architecture of the exhibition. The documenta, of which Bode was responsible for directing the first four, developed within a short time into the most important exhibition of contemporary art. In addition to the curatorial work, Bode pursued numerous other routes. He was a painter and drawer, he designed furniture and exhibition stands. He also surprised the administration of Kassel with new ideas on how to improve the townscape. Arnold Bode died on 3rd October 1977 in Kassel – a day after documenta 6 had ended.
Pamela de Filippo: “The father of the documenta”, https://www.hna.de/kultur/documenta/arnold-bode-father-documenta-2353740.html
Arnold Bode before Jackson Pollock, Number 32
Documenta 1 (1955)
Installation View Sculpture Hall at documenta I Kassel Germany 1955
Günther Becker Entrance hall in the Fridericianum with historical opening credits for the first documenta, 1955
Documenta 2 (1959)
© Documenta archive
Documenta 3 (1964)
Arnold Bode before Henry Moore, Seagram
Documenta 4 (1968)
“Arnold Bode’s first plan for documenta: art across national and genre borders”: https://www.documenta-bauhaus.de/en/narrative/376/arnold-bodes-first-plan-for-documenta-art-across-national-and-genre-borders
“Arnold Bode”: https://www.documenta-bauhaus.de/en/personen/14/arnold-bode
“Arnold Bode”: https://www.documenta14.de/en/artists/21957/arnold-bode
documenta 1 / 1955: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bklV1SugNoY
Documenta 2 – Kassel 1959: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTQmMX6v-mo
Kristian Handberg: “The Shock of the Contemporary: documenta II and the Louisiana Museum”, https://www.on-curating.org/issue-33-reader/the-shock-of-the-contemporary-documenta-ii-and-the-louisiana-museum.html