Texte zur Kunst

Title Texte zur Kunst
Location Cologne; Berlin
Publisher Texte zur Kunst GmbH
Periodicity Quarterly
ISSN 0940-959
URL http://www.textezurkunst.de
Published Since 1990-
Indexed Holdings 2000-


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Periodical's Overview


Texte zur Kunst wird aktuelle Kunstproduktion und kunstsgeschichtliche Reflexion miteinander verbinden. Damit soll jenes Wechselverhältnis zwichen Veränderung der künstlerischen Arbetisweise und dem Wandel kunstgeschichtlicher Kategorien ins Bewußtsein gehoben werden, das einer richtigen, aber nur als Klischee tradierten Auffassung zufolde den Entwicklungsgang der Kunstgeschichte unterschewllig bestimmt hat. Das Klischee bringt Wölfflin und den Impressionismus, Warburg und die kubistische Collage, Wiederentdeckung des Manierisumus und expressionistische Kunstbewegungen zusammen. Für heute würde das heißen, daß das Interesse an Systemtheorie und Kontextforschung zu neueren konzeptuellen Ansätzen oder die Beschäftigung mit rezeptionsästhetischen Fragestellungen zu der seit Minimal üblichen Auseinandersetzung mit dem Betrachter in Beziehung gesetzt werde könnte. Solche Analogien sind vorschnell und produktiv zugleich. Deshalb wird das Prinzip der Anschlußfähigkeit, die Möglichkeit, parallel laufende Entwicklungen aufeinander zu beziehen oder gerade im Kontrast von künstlerischer und kunsthistorischer Vorgehensweise die spezifische Differenz herauszuarbeiten, under Programm bestimmen.”[1]



“Twenty years ago in autumn 1990, Stefan Germer (†) and me founded Texte zur Kunst in Cologne as an art magazine with a strong inclination towards theory. We wanted to start a magazine that refused to simplify its agenda to one of promotion of art and artists, as other art magazines tended to. Criticism becoming valuable in itself in a knowledge based society is a more recent phenomenon with which we have also had to contend.


What we nevertheless considered necessary was to take up those debates about modernism’s legacy that had reached a high degree of complexity in the US. I am referring to the debates that concerned the blurred line between High Art and Popular Culture, the tense relationship between Visual Culture/Cultural Studies and Art History, the virtues and problems of so called “identity politics,” the methodological advantages and shortcomings of Social Art History and the status of aesthetics after a long battle for “anti-aesthetics” - to name just a few. We wanted to import these issues into our debates at the time, to continue them and to contest them if necessary.


Bitte erlauben Sie mir nun zum Schluss, einfach zu sagen: Texte zur Kunst is here to stay”[2]

Selected Subject Headings

  • Art - collectors and collecting
  • Art and economy
  • Art and the spectacular
  • Art criticism - philosophy
  • Avant-garde (aesthetics) - Poland
  • Berlin (Germany) - urban renewal
  • Chelsea (Manhattan, New York, N.Y.)
  • Conceptual art - Latin America
  • Culture conflict - United States
  • Feminist art criticism
  • Neoconservatism - Germany
  • Individual differences
  • Institutional critique
  • Police - political aspects
  • Post-communism in art
  • Primates - behavior
  • Sexual ethics
  • Snuff films
  • Violence in art - exhibitions


Texte zur Kunst is a consistent periodical in its intellectual rigor and editorial control, first under the initial editorship of Stefan Germer (†) and Isabelle Graw, and since Germer’s passing in 1998 with Graw as the stable editor and a rotating cohort of editors and advisors.

First based in Cologne, this periodical was instrumental as a tool of inoculation in a German speaking sphere of the then-current debates roaring in the U.S. non-trade art discourse--‘progressive art’ in their words--and of a group of American artists that felt the Cologne milieu to be more conducive and open to the kind of work they were producing, no matter if some of them were also exhibiting in New York commercial galleries at the time.[3] What took place in Germany though was a hybridization of academic rigor and popular culture, maybe due to this being a Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung endeavor (i.e. commercial), and having to appeal to a broader range of audiences in order to draw advertising; but also there was a genuine interest in mass popular culture as the journal’s foundational moment took place during a time in which the “High/Low” debates were very much in vogue and collided with an updated Frankfurt School line of thinking espoused by many of the writers in the magazine.

This interest in popular culture was foresighted; the advent of the Internet, and the expansion of the trade art market with its meshing of spectacle and celebrity sub-culture brought Texte zur Kunst’s pages incisive analysis of the 2000s cultural industries.

From the editors’ statements quoted in the Periodical’s Overview it is not possible to ascertain the influence that the U.S. academic journal October had as a role model or guiding post, not only as an intellectual precedent and interlocutor, but also as a design template, as the initial sober layout of Texte zur Kunst might indicate. One of the October editors, German U.S.-based art historian Benjamin H. D. Buchloh found in the pages of Texte zur Kunst a space in which his art historical perspectives could now be accepted, read and discussed in German; debates between North American and German art historians and cultural critics brought lively polemics to a field normally considered either ossified or deskilled; and at the same time, its pages were and are open to younger North American art historians and academics that find in the journal’s pages a different kind of space, a more spontaneous one, not encountered in the more segregated intellectual landscape of the United States; segregated in terms of media access, as the debates in that country normally take place in academic journals, with very few, rare and brief exceptions depending on the rotating editorialship of trade art journals.

Texte zur Kunst also serves as a very good thermometer of institutional and commercial spaces exhibitions; these revolve mostly around the German speaking countries and the United States, as the perspectives stem from and are focused mostly on an early Cologne, a current Berlin, Vienna, New York and Los Angeles; as the proliferation of biennials, exhibitions, thinkers and artists from other centers could not be ignored, sporadic forays into other discursive networks took place from the late 1990s and during the 2000s.

Other areas covered in their pages are performance art, art criticism, theater, and film, all of these combined with a staunch belief on the persistent relevance of painting nowadays.

One can embrace or disagree with Texte zur Kunst's perspectives, but one cannot but admire and commend this adventurous attempt at creating a commercial long lasting venue for rigorous thought, images, and texts surrounding art and its contexts.

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[1]Isabelle Graw, Stefan Germer. “Vorwort,” Texte zur Kunst (Cologne), no. 1 (Autumn 1990): 26.

[2]Isabelle Graw. “Introduction,” Texte zur Kunst (Berlin), no. 81 (March 2011): 124, 41.

[3]A list of these artists would include Mike Kelley, Christopher Wool, Stephen Prina, Christopher Williams, John Miller, Fareed Armaly or Renée Green, among a few others. It is interesting to note that Green and Armaly’s artistic and intellectual role in that milieu has been subdued, or can’t be traced in some slanted accounts of that period when historized from the United Sates. For an example of a scholarly narrative of Armaly's work see Helmut Draxler’s Die Gewalt des Zusammenhangs: Raum, Referenz und Repräsentation bei Fareed Armaly (Berlin: b-books, 2007); and for an example of a U.S. revisionist history, in which these absences and other spurious presences replace those who were participants in that particular milieu and time, see the 2006 exhibition catalog Make your own life. Or history.