Events > Book Launch

23 May 2009

Book launch for Dan Adler's Hanne Darboven: Cultural History 1880-1983

Dan Adler
Hanne Darboven
Afterall Books
1 pm - 3 pm
More Information

Art Metropole is pleased to host a launch for Hanne Darboven: Cultural History 1880-1983 by Dan Adler. In this most recent publication from Afterall’s important One Work series, Adler provides an illustrated study of Hanne Darboven’s masterwork, the massive Kulturgeschichte 1880-1983 (Cultural History 1880-1983). Please join us on Saturday May 23, 2009 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM to celebrate. Dan Adler will be present.

Hanne Darboven’s Cultural History 1880-1983 (1980-83) is an overwhelming, encyclopedic installation that weaves together cultural, social and historical sources. Juxtaposing found and crafted materials, autobiographical documents and popular representations of iconic figures, it references both mundane realities and pivotal historical events.

Dan Adler explores the aesthetic complexities of the work, making comparisons with significant projects such as Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, Jasper Johns’s According to What and Gerhard Richter’s Atlas. Despite Darboven’s position as a founding figure of Conceptualism and her extensive exhibition history, relatively little has been written about her work. This insightful study of one of her most important works fills that gap.

One Work is a unique series published by Afterall Books, based at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Each book presents a single work of art considered in detail by a single author. The focus of the series is on contemporary art and its aim is to provoke debate about significant moments in art’s recent development. The series is distributed by the MIT Press.

Hanne Darboven: Cultural History 1880-1983, Dan Adler, Afterall Books (London UK), 2009
20.6 × 15 cm, 120 pp., 32 color illustrations, softcover, $19, hardcover, $40

Dan Adler teaches courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century art, with particular interests in nineteenth-century European painting, French and German Dada, and the development and reception of the conceptual art movement. Adler’s areas of research include the history of art writing, German modernism, Frankfurt School theory, conceptual art, and the aesthetics and history of sculpture and installation art. He has published in the London-based journal Art History and regularly contributes reviews to Artforum and Canadian Art. An alumnus of the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program, he has taught previously at Hunter College, RISD, the University of Guelph, and the New School in New York. He was formerly senior editor of the Bibliography of the History of Art at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. In 2006 he curated the exhibition When Hangover Becomes Form: Rachel Harrison and Scott Lyall, held at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE). His book on the German conceptual artist Hanne Darboven will be published in 2009 by Afterall Books/MIT Press. He is currently working on a book dealing with contemporary sculpture in terms of aesthetic categories.

Hanne Darboven was born in 1941 in Munich. She studied painting from 1962–66 at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg. In 1966 Darboven moved to New York, where she established herself as a major conceptual artist and was in contact with Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, and Joseph Kosuth, among others. During her initial stay in New York (1966–68), Darboven developed her Konstruktionen, which comprised a neutral language of numbers in linear constructions using pen, pencil, typewriter, and graph paper as materials. For this German conceptualist, numbers not only represented an artificial, universal language but also allowed her to mark the passage of time. For Ein Jahrhundert (A Century) (1971–75), she visualized the hundred-year span through numbers representing each day and year starting with the number 00 and ending in 99. Darboven made some additions to the work in 1982 in honor of the 150th anniversary of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In 1973 Darboven started integrating into her works texts by various authors, among them Heinrich Heine and Jean-Paul Sartre. By 1978 she was also incorporating visual documents, such as photographic images and assorted objects that she found, purchased, or received as gifts. For example, in Bismarckzeit (Bismarck era) (1978), the artist included historical text and suggestive photographs to comment on the problematic episode in German history under Otto von Bismarck. Also in the late 1970s, Darboven, who studied to be a pianist earlier in life, began to devise a system of musical notation based on the calendar and her personal number systems, and, with the aid of a collaborator, adapted them into performable compositions. Throughout the 1980s, during which Darboven oscillated between Hamburg and New York, the artist extended the principles and systems she established in the seventies to major works such as Kulturgeschichte 1880–1983 (Cultural History 1880–1983) (1980–83). In the 1990s Darboven revisited the theme of the century and produced a fin-de-siècle installation that engaged both her signature mode of marking time through the systematic writing of numbers and an investigation of an archetypal individual seen to represent the last one hundred years. These issues lie at the heart of Hommage à Picasso (1995–2006), her installation for Deutsche Guggenheim with date panels including an incredible 9,270 sheets of paper, a lithograph of Pablo Picasso’s 1955 painting Seated Figure in Turkish, a series of purchased and commissioned sculptures, and a newly produced musical work.

Solo exhibitions of Darboven’s work have been organized by Kunstmuseum Basel (1974 and 1991), Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1975), Kunstverein Hamburg (1983), Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris (1986), The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (1989–90), Dia Center for the Arts in New York (1996), Hamburger Kunsthalle (1999–2000), and Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin (2006). Darboven’s work was also included in major group exhibitions like the Guggenheim International (1971), Documentas 5, 6, 7 and 11 (1972, 1977, 1982, and 2002), São Paulo Bienal (1973), Venice Biennale (1982), Lyon Biennale (1997), and Carnegie International (1999–2000). Darboven died on March 9, 2009 in Hamburg, Germany.

Afterall is a research and publishing organisation based in London. Founded in 1998 by Charles Esche and Mark Lewis at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London, Afterall focuses on contemporary art and its relation to a wider artistic, theoretical and social context.

Afterall, a journal of art, context and enquiry, was launched in 1999. Afterall offers in-depth analysis of artists’ work, along with essays that broaden the context in which to understand it. The journal is published by Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and was co-published with California Institute of the Arts from 2002 to 2009. It is currently published by Central Saint Martins in editorial and research partnership with M HKA, Antwerp; Smart Museum of Art and Open Practice Committee, University of Chicago; and UNIA arteypensamiento, Seville; and in association with The University of Chicago Press.

In April 2006 Afterall Books was launched, with two new strands of publications to complement the journal: One Work and a series of Afterall Critical Readers. One Work is a library of small books, each title focusing on one important work of contemporary art through a single text. Afterall Critical Readers look at significant areas of modern and contemporary art practice through the commissioning and reprinting of a collection of key texts, artists’ statements and manifestos. A new series examining curation, titled Exhibition Histories, was launched in 2010 in collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and is currently published in association with the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

Afterall is also a member of Common Practice, an advocacy group working for the recognition and fostering of the small-scale contemporary arts sector in London.

Afterall Online continues the lines of enquiry explored through the journal and the books. It features specially commissioned and regularly updated material including interviews with artists about their art practice, photo-essays and texts on artist’s projects, books and events.

Afterall also organises events including screenings, workshops, seminars and conferences in relation to its different research and publication projects, in London and elsewhere.


1: Dan Adler, Derek Sullivan and friend.
2: Guest, Peter Hobbs, Amish Morell.
3: Greg Elgstrand checking out the tasty treats, Adam Brown, Sarah Graham & Son, Bill Clarke.
4: Guest with Dan Adler and Amish Morell.
5: Victor, Zin Taylor and guests.
6: Guest with Katie Bethune-Leaman, Bill Clark and friends.
7: Guests mingling and shmoozing.
8: Guest with Dan Adler and Amish Morell lookin over a hot off the press copy.

  1. Book launch for Dan Adler’s Hanne Darboven: Cultural History
  2. Book launch for Dan Adler’s Hanne Darboven: Cultural History
  3. Book launch for Dan Adler’s Hanne Darboven: Cultural History
  4. Book launch for Dan Adler’s Hanne Darboven: Cultural History
  5. Book launch for Dan Adler’s Hanne Darboven: Cultural History
  6. Book launch for Dan Adler’s Hanne Darboven: Cultural History
  7. Book launch for Dan Adler’s Hanne Darboven: Cultural History
  8. Book launch for Dan Adler’s Hanne Darboven: Cultural History
  9. Dan Adler - Hanne Darboven’s Cultural History