Susanne Windelen, ohne Titel, 1998 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015
Exhibition | 11.03.2016 - 9.07.2016


A Design Icon in the Light of Art
It is a classic in the history of German design – the Wilhelm Wagenfeld table lamp, known the world over as the Bauhaus Lamp. With its clear form that is reduced to the essentials, it has remained a paragon of quality design to this day. The exhibition at the Weserburg presents this design icon in an unaccustomed light. Since 1995 a total of 25 nationally and internationally renowned artists have been invited to artistically rework the lamp, resulting in a surprising variety of new works. They range from respectful responses to ironic commentaries and grotesque alienations. In both senses of the phrase, new light is shed on the ever-changing relationship between design and art, between functionality and aesthetics.
Richard Hamilton, The annunciation, 2005 © Richard Hamilton All Rights Reserved/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
Richard Hamilton, The annunciation, 2005 © Richard Hamilton All Rights Reserved/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016

Richard Hamilton presents the Bauhaus Lamp in a modernist print of a nude. The form of the design object directly seems to dissolve in the blazing light. The artist plays on the sacred Annunciation and, in passing, converts this religious and transcendental subject into a quotidian arrangement. In a grotesque manner the lamp becomes a symbol of the sacral. Aldo Mondino drapes two glass shades with a circle of BIC pens and calls his humorous alienation “Jugend-stilo”. Rolf Julius, in turn, uses a speaker to transform the glass shade into a resonance body that adds spherical sounds to the light. Other artists have concentrated more on the object’s function as a lamp. Thus, Susanne Windelen has covered it with fluorescent paint, taking it into an other-worldly reverie and making it inapproachable. In this form the lamp does not bring light to the darkness but rather shines as an independent sculpture. 

Aldo Mondino, Jugend-stilo, 1995 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
Aldo Mondino, Jugend-stilo, 1995 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016

The work by Dieter Roth is one of the exhibition’s special highlights. When Walter Schnepel gave the Swiss artist a Bauhaus Lamp in 1995, Roth declined to take part in the project out of respect. He did not want to give the design classic an artistic makeover: “You can’t make it better … but a lamp can always come in handy.” A year later the collector was surprised to see the lamp again as an element in the famous “BAR No. 1” (1983–1997). A black peaked cap, like the ones the artist himself wore, has since cheekily rested on the glass shade. With enigmatic wit, he has converted the lamp into a hat stand and has even poured red paint over it, like a blood stain.

Wolfgang Hainke, nothing compare*(s) to you“, 2015
Wolfgang Hainke, nothing compare*(s) to you“, 2015

Like Roth, the other artists also confidently assert their own artistic singularity rather displaying affirmation and reverence. They react to the uniformity of the serial product with individualisation and they respond to reproduction with isolation, thereby lending a new presence and visibility to the familiar. In this context they are not concerned with alternative solutions for form and function. They abolish the timeless and static quality of the design object. The lamp, which has ossified into a classic piece, thus becomes a crystallisation point of new ideas and aesthetics. In this context the artist Ben Vautier has laconically remarked: “No art without light.”


Ay-O, Michael Bette, Jochen Fischer, Christian Gürtler, Wolfgang Hainke, Richard Hamilton, Rolf Julius, Alison Knowles, Christina Kubisch, Christiane Möbus, Aldo Mondino, Davide Nido, Oliver Niewiadomski, Ann Noël, Paul Renner, Dieter Roth, Valentin Rothmaler, Takako Saito, Fritz Schwegler, Lisa Simon, Daniel Spoerri, Ben Vautier, Wolfgang Wagner-Kutschker, Emmett Williams, Susanne Windelen

Curator: Ingo Clauß, Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst

The exhibition catalogue features texts as well as reproductions of all the exhibited works and was designed by BrücknerAping Büro für Gestaltung.

In cooperation with the Maria und Walter Schnepel Kulturstiftung and the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Stiftung. This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of Museumsfreunde Weserburg, Bremer Landesbank and TECNOLUMEN. Since 1980 the Bremen-based firm TECNOLUMEN has been producing the only authorised re-edition of the Wilhelm Wagenfeld table lamp. From the very beginning, Bauhaus design has stood at the heart of this company, which also manufactures other objects from the Bauhaus’s metal workshop. 

Programme of Events

  • Friday, 11 March 2016, 7pm: exhibition opening, free admission
  • Thursday, 17 March 2016, 6pm: Guided tour with the exhibition’s curator Ingo Clauß and with Julia Bulk, Director of the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Stiftung
  • Tuesday, 12 April 2016, 7pm: Dieter Roth’s “Splittersonate”. The artist Dieter Roth’s anarchistic, sensuous and enigmatic “Splittersonate” consists of 125 sheets featuring drawings, texts, pasted photos and – in some cases – actual musical notes. With drinks served at the Roth Bar, the Swiss pianist Jürg Henneberger will be playing this work, which was created between 1965 and 1994. This event is part of jazzahead! 2016, with the kind support of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Pianohaus Rosenkranz in Oldenburg.


  • Dienstag, 15. März 2016, 17 Uhr: Kostenfreie Informationsveranstaltung mit dem Kurator Ingo Clauß. Anmeldung bis Montag, 14. März 2016.
  • Angebot für Schulklassen: 90-minütige Führung mit Praxisanteil. Das vielschichtige Verhältnis von Kunst und Design wird in den Ausstellungsräumen diskutiert und in der Praxis weitergehend untersucht. In Gruppenarbeit gestalten die Schülerinnen und Schüler eine Lichterkette um. Dabei stehen die unterschiedlichsten Alltagsmaterialien zur Verfügung. Die serielle Gleichförmigkeit der Lampe wird im Arbeitsprozess individualisiert: Erleuchtung garantiert!
  • Anmeldung: 0421 598390, sekretariat(at) Gruppenpreis: 60 €, zzgl. 1,50 € Eintritt (Bremer Schüler 1 €) und 1 € Materialkosten pro Schüler
  • Samstag, 30. April 2016, 11-18 Uhr: Im Rahmen des AboCard-Tag des Weser-Kuriers findet für Abonnenten des Weser-Kuriers jeweils um 14 Uhr und 16 Uhr eine kostenlose Führung durch die Ausstellung „Leuchte! Designikone im Licht der Kunst“ statt.

Gesprächszeit "2 nach 1"

Interview mit dem Kunstsammler Walter Schnepel im Nordwestradio vom 18.04.2016 


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