The Center for Persecuted Arts is a museum of discovery dedicated exclusively to artists whose opportunities for development and works were blocked, prevented, or annihilated by the dictatorships of the last century and totalitarian regimes up to the present day. It is a cross-genre museum, and its Collection of Art and Literature tells of lost, forgotten, and barely considered works of art, stories, and fates.
Together with the documenta archive, the Solingen Center for Persecuted Arts is looking back at the beginnings of the major exhibition in parallel with documenta fifteen in the spring and summer of 2022. Both institutions ask what role documenta and its founders played in the processes of canonization in the visual arts of the postwar period.
The second stop will be the MOCAK in Krakow in winter 2022. On the occasion of the research and exhibition project 1929/1955. The First documenta and the Oblivion of a Generation of Artists, a panel discussion will take place on December 01., 2022.
Funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The exhibition portrays people who, in their individual ways, have enriched art in various fields. What they all have in common is that they have experienced mental illness. For some of the artists presented here, this illness marked a break in their creative power; for others, artistic productivity seems to have been part of coming to terms with the illness or part of everyday life in general.
Among them is the artist Helene Maisch (1890-1942), who, despite 35 years of psychiatric treatment in various “sanatoriums and nursing homes,” repeatedly found new ways to artistically appropriate her surroundings and everyday life. In addition to Maisch, other artist-patients such as Else Blankenhorn can be discovered in the exhibition.
In the estate of the artist Oscar Zügel (1892-1968), art pieces, written self-testimonies, photographs, letters and much more can be discovered. All these materials are testimonies to his life, work, and the ups and downs of exile. The estate will now be presented to the public for the first time. The focus is on the artist, whose life was defined by several breackpoints as a result of National Socialism, marked by new beginnings across several continents.
The exhibition also provides space for reflection and self-questioning: How do narratives of self and others about the artist relate to each other, and what responsibility do we have as a museum when it comes to remembrance work? The exhibition will focus on the negotiation processes in remembrance work that we often face as researchers in museums.
The center’s polyphonic collection is present in a permanent exhibition.
The collection includes more than 5,000 works of art, literature and images from 1933 to the present – from the ostracized art defamed as “degenerate” by the Nazis to the theater estate of dissident Vaclav Havel.
Here visitors can discover lost and ostracized works of art, stories and fates.
The Max-Leven-Zentrum named itself after the Solingen cultural critic Max Leven, who was murdered in the pogrom night in November 1938, and is an educational and memorial site that is currently under construction. The exhibition shows the work and failure of resistance against the Nazi system as well as the effects of a lack of resistance on a local level.
Every Sunday, the Center for Persecuted Arts offers public tours of its exhibitions. Pre-registration is not necessary.
You are also welcome to request a private guided tour from us. We also offer various topics and workshops for school classes.
Please contact us by mail
or by phone +49 212 258 1418.
For the visit of the exhibitions as well as for events the distance and hygiene regulations of the Corona protection regulation of the country North Rhine-Westphalia apply furthermore.
In the Center for Persecuted Arts, pictures, books, journals, documents, and photographs tell little-known stories of flight, expulsion, and persecution—but also of how art can give hope. In the permanent exhibition of the museum’s Collection of Art and Literature and the Civic Foundation for Persecuted Arts – Else Lasker-Schüler Center – Gerhard Schneider Art Collection, as well as in the archive, 3,500 objects can be discovered on more than 700 square meters.
Immediately after its founding, the Center for Persecuted Arts expanded its forms of expression through the feature-length documentary film Kichka. Life Is a Cartoon, produced in cooperation with the MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art Kraków. Since its founding, the center has also collaborated on the ARD project Auschwitz und Ich (Auschwitz and Me). The accompaniment of projects, exhibitions, and events through films has become an integral part of the museum’s program. Here, you can find many of our films and video contributions…
On the occasion of the museum’s fifth birthday, an association was founded on November 6, 2020 to support and enrich the program. Sebastian Greif, Barbara Antonia Löcherbach, Sylvia Löhrmann (Chairwoman), and Uli Preuß were elected to the board.
The founding of this association would not have been possible without the commitment of the citizens of Solingen. The aim of the association is to bring together interested people from Solingen and the surrounding area and to help shape the cultural life of the city. Would you also like to get involved in the newly founded association and support our museum? Then please contact
Jürgen Kaumkötter, M.A.
Director, General Manager Zentrum für verfolgte Künste gGmbH
Birte Fritsch, M.A.
Anna Schröfel, M.A.
(in parental leave)
Susanne Vieten, M.A.
Registry, exhibition secretariat
Alexandra Peter, M.A.
Head of Art Education
Marielena Buonaiuto, M.A.
Collection and Research, Conservator
Hanna Sauer, M.A.
Collection and Research