TEACHING: “Tracing Brandhorst: Re-Imagining a Collection” at Museum Brandhorst, Munich, July 2022.

From July 11th to 15th, 2022, Lynn Rother taught a course on tracing objects from the private collection of Anette and Udo Brandhorst, which now form part of the permanent collection of Museum Brandhorst, Munich. Comprised of thirteen undergraduate students from Leuphana University, the course took place for the most part at the museum itself and was accompanied by the museum’s curator, Giampaolo Bianconi.

Students were each assigned an artist and an artwork from the Brandhorst collection—ranging from Andy Warhol’s ‘Round Marilyn’ (1962) to Cy Twombly’s ‘Nini’s Painting’ (1971)—and asked to prepare object sheets detailing, among tombstone data, the collecting and exhibition history of the artwork. At the end of the course, they were then asked to deliver oral presentations contextualising the reception of the artwork at the time of its acquisition. Indeed, the course was aimed at trying to understand, first and foremost, the collectors and their decisions at the time. What moved the Brandhorsts to buy artworks from the neo-avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s and, later, from the offshoot movement known as “critical postmodernism”? Furthermore, how do we archive and catalogue such information today, as the museum prepares for the reinstallation of its permanent collection in 2023? How does a museum dedicated to contemporary art deal with its increasingly ageing collection? Such were the questions raised and discussed in Munich.

TEACHING: “Old Knowledge, New Techniques – Understanding Museum Data”, Winter Semester 2021/2022.

In the winter semester 2021/2022, Lynn and Fabio co-taught the seminar “Old Knowledge, New Techniques – Understanding Museum Data” as part of the Media Cultures module of the Digital Media Bachelor, a joint degree of Leuphana University and Hamburg Media School. The teaching proposes an experimental hybrid learning of provenance studies with digital knowledge representation.

“In the brave new electronic world, few bastions of the humanities have withstood the march of technology more tenaciously than the art museum.”

—Everett Elin, 1969

With the first Executive Director of the Museum Computer Network, Everett Elin’s, observation in mind, students were provided with theoretical and practical insights to critically analyze the current digital practices of museums in publishing art provenance online. On the one hand, the course presented the traditional methodology of provenance studies, providing literature and case studies. On the other, with continuous cross-disciplinary references, students learned the techniques and logic necessary to publish structured and machine-readable knowledge. These notions thus allowed students to practice what they had learned, experiencing the potential and the limits of the multidisciplinary approach. Working in groups, the students produced new and unique application scenarios of digital art provenance. Below you will find some examples of their work.

Fundamentally, the seminar was an opportunity to experiment on an educational level with what is already taking place at the Provenance Lab. It was motivated by the belief that academic training with a hybrid background is essential for providing institutions with adequate museum professionals who can meet digital challenges head-on.

AUTHORS: Nele Husen, Melanie Neuer, Hannah Prasuhn and Luise Pohlmann.

CONCEPT: “On a large screen in the museum there is a map of the world and a timeline, on which colourful dots represent different artworks. On Tablets or smartphone visitors can choose paintings, events and people they would like to learn more about.”

AUTHORS: Lelia van Hees, Isobel Hingston, Viktoria Dorothea Kamps and Nemanja Pulja.

CONCEPT: “Provenance data is displayed on a map paired with timestamps, making visible the space and time dimensions of a painting, as well as its possible network dimensions. This map is both accessible on the museum website and by way of a QR code in the museum itself .”

AUTHORS: Rebekka Skjørestad Halter, Marek Jakob Gollan, Charlotte Albert and Felizitas Klara Sophie Bader.

CONCEPT: “An interactive exhibition game in which school children go on a journey through time and space to track down a painting, collecting provenance data along the way. A trained educator guides them through the game, filling in any gaps and providing further context.”

TEACHING: “Collecting Women”, Winter Semester 2021/2022.

In the winter semester 2021/2022, Lynn and Max co-taught an undergraduate course on the role of women collectors, which also addressed the question of collecting, curating and displaying the works of female artists. The occasion for the course was the 50th anniversary of the publication of Linda Nochlin’s groundbreaking essay “Why have there been no great women artists?” While feminist art history has since had far reaching consequences in the field of art history, highlighting in particular the role and accomplishments of female artists, the course took the anniversary of this foundational text as an opportunity to expand the view on the role of women in the arts.

The course combined the fundamental insights of feminist art history with more recent approaches, themselves an outgrowth of the feminist turn, to look at ongoing structural oversights within the field of art history. The way art history continues to be written today perpetuates structural biases and exclusions, manifesting themselves in places as varied as wikipedia, or indeed, in museum databases. Therefore, the class took a historical approach to the variety of activities women in the arts were engaged in to draw out a much richer picture of female entanglements in the world of art, not only as muses or artists themselves, but also as actors in the art market and as collectors. As part of the course, the class visited the retrospective of the leading surrealist Toyen at the Hamburger Kunsthalle to analyse contemporary engagements with the historical biases.

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