Documenta : a brief history

Documenta is the single most important event dedicated to the contemporary art exhibition in our recent times which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. Documenta has a fascinated history judging by the reason that it was created in 1955 by Arnold Bode, an academic professor and painter, after a cultural urgency in the post war Germany to bring Germany back in dialogue with the rest of the world and to connect the international scene through a presentation of 20th century art.slide06

In 1955 Arnold Bode created the exhibition of contemporary art at the Museum of Fridericianum which was part of the flower show in Kassel. He carried on for some years curating the exhibition with a team of curators until 1968.


In 1972 Documenta 5 was directed by Harald Szeeman, who introduced the theme exhibition because he wanted to put forward the perspective of time. Harald Szeeman established the concept of the single star curator.


In 1997, Documenta 10 was led for the first time in the history by a woman, French art historian and curator, Catherine David. Her intellectual approach to the exhibition examined the political, social, economic and cultural issues of the contemporary globalized world.


In 2012, the last Documenta 13 was curated by the second woman in Documenta’s history, Carolyn Christov Bakargiev presented two concurrent events outside the city of Kassel, Kabul and Cairo which were totally different exhibitions from that of Kassel.   This last exhibition was a blockbuster exhibition in terms of the number of visitors around 900,000 persons and an enormous amount of artwork.

This year 2017 Documenta 14 is taking place simultaneously in Athens and Kassel.


The artistic Director of  Documenta 14 is Adam Szymczyck, Polish artistic director at Kunsthalle Basel and winner of the award for the curatorial achievement at the Menil Foundation in Houston.


By choosing Athens as the parallel site of the exhibition Szymczyck argues that Documenta 14 has the same urgency to find out the scope which was created at first in Kassel. They want to show trust and solidarity to Greeks and create a bridge between these two countries by starting a conversation and ‘learning from Athens’, the latter is the working title of Documenta 14.

The preliminary events have already started in Athens at Parko Eleftherias and you can follow some events on line at Documenta14’s  website :