Exploring The Abstract Cabinet

Aktualisiert: 15. März 2020


Okay, thank you very much for the attention. I think I might have mildly interesting things to write about and so they will now leave me through my fingertips and go into your head by way of you reading this.

Hello, nice to meet you, my name is Timo. I was born and have grown up in Hannover. I have always been interested in art but with all honesty have never spent the amount of time learning about it as I should have. It had always seemed like such an enormously complex and overwhelming topic.

I figured that should change. So, if I am to explore the world of art, where would I even start?

This question was answered for me by my wonderful life partner Polina. She was born in Saint-Petersburg and told me about an art collaboration between the Russian artist El Lissitzky and the Landes Museum here in Hannover from 1927 called “Abstract Cabinet”.

“Well there we go!” I had thought. A direct connection between my heritage, my girlfriend’s heritage and art in general. What better reason could I possibly ever have to finally get off my

ass and immerse myself in this strange part of the world that has eluded me for so long.

So I did, get of my ass that is. I went out and found out about this strange cabinet. What was it about and what made it abstract? Where is it now? I’ve been to the Landesmuseum and certainly don’t remember seeing it there.

Well, the last of those questions is quickly answered. It doesn’t exist anymore and it’s the fault of all of our favourite Assholes, the Nazis. Those dimwits destroyed it sometime between 1936 and 1937. So that’s it then? A potentially incredibly interesting art installation lost forever because of some limpdicked nationalsocialists from the 1930s?

Well, not exactly. Luckily, some people with a lot more sense decided that it would be rebuilt as a changed but similar version in the year 1968 which you can still go and see to this day in the Sprengel Museum.

But what does make it abstract and what does it mean? It all goes back to the original director of the museum who commissioned El Lissitzky in the first place. His name was Alexander Dorner and he believed that a museum was primarily meant to be an educational institution and as such should step out of its usual role as a passive presenter and instead invite the visitors to participate and become familiar with the artwork using a more hands-on approach. To create an exhibition space that would actively engage the visitor was what laid the original groundwork for the later creation. Lissitzky designed a black and white space of movable elements that would invite the guest to create a view of the shown artwork, but also a completely new artistic constellation all for themselves.

I have visited the new version multiple times by now. It is indeed interesting and quite fun to be in, honestly. However, it feels less like an exact replication of that original idea and much more like an homage to the radical creativity of Lissitzky's design. I don't really blame it for this though. In fact, I believe that it is a good thing that they didn't try to catch lightning again and do the exact same thing that was already done before. This time, ripped out of its original context, it would have felt more like a pale imitation than an actual reimagining. Now it acts more like a piece made to honor the memory of Lissitzky. More like a memorial than an art installation.

So I do urge you to go to the Sprengel Museum yourself and give it a look. I had a lot more fun than I originally thought I would. Quite frankly, I thought it might end up being boring. But I could not be any happier to have been wrong. I had a wonderful time exploring this tiny nook in Hannover’s art history and am burning up inside to go out and do it again. Who knows what I'll stumble over this time. Hey, I just had an amazing idea. Get this; What if I write about my findings in some sort of blog about art in Hannover? Wouldn't that be nice?

Yeah, let's do it. Let's create this blog that I totally just now came up with at this very moment of me writing this. And you know what would be even better? If you ended up following the blog. That would be super crazy. Who knows, maybe it will be fun. Maybe it will be terrible. Or maybe it will even be terribly fun!

So it's settled then. I will write a blog. Thank you for helping me come up with this idea, my dear reader. And see you in my next article!

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