In 1987, on the occasion of Berlin’s 750th anniversary, the monumental sculpture 2 concrete Cadillacs in the shape of the Naked Maya was realised on the traffic-flooded central island of Rathenauplatz as one of eight large sculptures by international artists on the sculpture boulevard Kurfürstendamm / Tauentzien. Even before its completion, it became a political issue and the talk of the town in pre-reunification West Berlin. Intended as a cautionary “anti-monument” to the consumer and automobile society”, the two US cars in the concrete shell provoked protest demonstrations, counter-art works and a ‘citizens’ initiative against modern art’.
Image above: Wolf Vostell, 2 concrete Cadillacs in the shape of Naked Maja by Goja at night, 1987 © VG Bild Kunst / Wolf Vostell Estate, photo: Philipp John, © museum FLUXUS+, 2022.
The exhibition revolves around this event – like car traffic around the sculpture: on the ground floor, the viewer is confronted with the turbulent reception on the basis of over 100 partly unpublished original documents: Photos, videos, letters of protest and threats, press reviews and interviews with contemporary witnesses bear witness to the vehemence of the reactions. On the upper floor, 40 works by Vostell from his own collection and from private lenders deal with the design in the context of its complex iconography, from the 1960s to beyond the realisation of the sculpture.
The exhibition, created in collaboration with Barbara Straka, the project manager formerly working for the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (NBK) on behalf of the Senate, commemorates Wolf Vostell’s 90th birthday and the 35th anniversary of the Berlin Sculpture Boulevard with a publicly financed representational project involving art in public space, the immense impact of which seems unusual from today’s perspective. Even 35 years later, the conflicting arguments and the vehemence of the debate seem bizarre and at the same time – against the backdrop of today’s debate culture – highly revealing.
From Saturday, 27 August to Sunday, 20 November 2022
Opening on 26 August at 6 p.m.