Alte Hasen: Klaus Bußmann in conversation with Kasper König
They are more prudent than others. They have good stamina and are passionately persistent. The Old Hands are luminaries in their fields and can look back to decades-long experiences in the art world. They possess deep insight into the realm which they have decisively shaped and chaperoned. Their view from a historical distance allows for seeing current developments and changes in the arts with greater perspicuity. In dialogues they narrate the stories of contemporary art offering an insight into their treasure trove of experience.
The art historian and curator Klaus Bußmann, born in Aachen in 1941, studied art history, sociology and history in Münster, Berlin, Basel, and Paris. From 1968 to 1977 he was curator at the Westphalian Landesmuseum of Art and Culture in Münster. Subsequently, from 1977 to 1984, Bußmann was professor of art history in the design faculty at the Münster University of Applied Sciences, returning in 1985 as director of the Landesmuseum, until 2004. There, together with Kasper König, he initialized the Sculpture Projects Muenster, which take place every ten years, in 1977. Twice, he was commissioner of the German Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia, presenting contributions from Bernd and Hilla Becher and Reinhard Mucha (1990), followed by Hans Haacke and Nam June Paik (1993), respectively receiving the Golden Lion Award. From 1996 to 2004 Klaus Bußmann was also chairman of the Parliamentary Advisory Board for Fine Arts. Amongst other things, Bußmann is holder of the German Critics Association Prize (1987), the Paulus-Plakette of the City of Münster (1993), and an Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2005).
Kasper König, born in 1943, was only twenty-three years old when he curated the Claes Oldenburg exhibition in Stockholm. While still a student, he organized several exhibitions and published numerous books, for example the Nova Scotia series (Halifax, Canada) in collaboration with the New York University Press. In 1985, König became Professor of Art and the Public, a then newly created position at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf. Three years later, he accepted a professorship at the Städelschule Frankfurt, where he has served as president of this fine arts college since 1989. During this same period he became founding director of the Portikus in Frankfurt/Main. König has organized several large exhibitions, including Westkunst (1981, Messehallen, Cologne), von hier aus (1984, Messe Düsseldorf), and Der zerbrochene Spiegel together with Hans Ulrich Obrist (1993, Vienna and Hamburg). Together with Klaus Bußmann, he organized the first Sculpture Projects Muenster in 1977, which he has also curated in 1987, 1997, and 2007. Kasper König has been the director of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne since 2000.