Alte Hasen: Werner Spies in conversation with Thomas W. Gaehtgens
Werner Spies (born in 1937 in Tübingen) studied art history, philosophy and Romance studies in Vienna, Tübingen and Paris. He translated works by Francis Ponge, Jean Tardieu and Marguerite Duras into German and prompted Beckett, Nathalie Sarraute, Butor, Robbe-Grillet, Claude Simon, Duras and Ponge to write pieces for the German radio and television broadcasting service. Since 1964 he has regularly written articles for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Between 1975 and 2002 Spies was a professor of 20th century art at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. From 1997 until 2000 he directed the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Spies organized several pioneering retrospectives of his friends Picasso and Max Ernst. Other exhibitions curated by Spies addressed “Paris-Berlin”, Surrealism, Andy Warhol, Josef Albers, Neo Rauch and David Lynch. He presides over the board of trustees of the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl whose opening exhibition he organized in 2005. The Freie Universität Berlin and the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Tübingen both awarded him an honorary doctorate. He has also been decorated with the Federal Cross of Merit with Star and is an Officier of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour as well as Commandeur de l’ordre national du mérite. He belongs to the German Academy for Language and Poetry and is a jury member of the German Peace Prize. Besides numerous other publications in several languages, Spies has edited the seven volumes of the catalogue raisonné of Max Ernst as well as the catalogue raisonné of Picasso's sculptures. His most recent publications are: Auge und Wort. Gesammelte Schriften zu Kunst und Literatur in ten volumes (BUP, 2008) and Der ikonografische Imperativ der Deutschen: Anselm Kiefer, Jörg Immendorf, Neo Rauch und die deutsche Kunst der Nachkriegszeit (BUP, 2009).
Thomas W. Gaehtgens (born in 1940) defended his dissertation in 1966 at the Art Historical Institute of the University of Bonn. From 1963 to 1964 he was a Research Fellow of the French Government, from 1966 to 1972 a Lecturer at the University of Bonn. He became a professor of the Art History Seminar of the University of Göttingen in 1972. He spent the academic year of 1979 at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, New Jersey, USA. From 1980 until 2006 Gaehtgens has been professor of art history at the Freie Universität Berlin. Between 1985 and 1986 he was a scholar in residence at the J. Paul Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities in Santa Monica, California, USA. In 1992 he organized the XXVIIIrd International Congress of Art History in Berlin and assumed the responsibilities of President of the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (C.I.H.A.) until 1996. Over the course of 1995 he was a teacher at the Collège de France. In 1997 Gaehtgens founded the Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art in Paris, which he then directed until 2007. From 1998 to 1999 he held the European Chair at the Collège de France. In 2004 he received an honorary doctorate from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. Gaehtgens is member of numerous international institutions. He is now the director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, USA. His primary research focuses on French and German art from the 18th to the 20th centuries, about which he has been published substantially.