• 1914
  • 1934
  • 1948
  • 1993
  • Background

  • Toni Elster, Bremer Hafen, around 1920
  • Map of the pavilions in the Giardini, 1934, courtesy of Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia – ASAC, © Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia)
  • Map of the pavilions from the catalogue of the Biennale di Venezia, 1948, courtesy of Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia – ASAC, © Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia
  • Nam June Paik, Catherine the Great, exterior German Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia, 1993, photo: © Roman Mensing, artdoc.de
  •  
  • It was in 1914 that women artists—Wera von Bartels, Toni Elster (s. fig.: Bremen Harbour, around 1920), and Marie Seeck—were first represented in the German Pavilion.

    In the history of the German Pavilion from 1909 to 2019 (including its beginnings as the Bavarian Pavilion), 28 female artists and 732 male artists participated. Women were appointed as commissioners and curators 6 times and men 51 times, and there have been 1 female and 9 male vice-commissioners. There is no data to date on any non-binary/diverse artist exhibiting in the German Pavilion.

    The women artists:
    Wera von Bartels
    Hilla Becher
    Charlotte Berend
    Maria Caspar-Filser (twice)
    Hanne Darboven
    Toni Elster
    Maria Foell
    Katharina Fritsch
    Isa Genzken
    Dora Hitz
    Candida Höfer
    Anne Imhof
    Käthe Kollwitz
    Brigitte Meier-Denninghoff
    Jasmina Metwaly
    Gabriele Münter
    Dora Polster Brandenburg
    Helène Schattenmann
    Johanna Schütz-Wolff
    Marie Seeck
    Katharina Sieverding
    Dayanita Singh
    Renée Sintenis (twice)
    Hito Steyerl
    Natascha Süder Happelmann / Natascha Sadr Haghighian
    Rosemarie Trockel

    The women commissioners/curators:
    Susanne Gaensheimer (twice)
    Gudrun Inboden (twice)
    Hanna Hohl (Vize)
    Susanne Pfeffer
    Franciska Zólyom

    This information was gathered from archival documents at the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and refers solely to the contributions in the Bavarian/German Pavilion (and the German contribution in the French Pavilion in 2013). Contributions by Germans in other buildings, for example the main exhibition, and contributions of German Democratic Republic in the Venetian pavilion or the Arsenale have not been taken into account here.

  • The Belgian Pavilion built in 1907 was the first foreign pavilion in the Giardini. It was followed in 1909 by the inauguration of the Hungarian, Bavarian, and British Pavilions. (The Bavarian Pavilion was reconstructed in 1912 and 1938 to serve as the German Pavilion.) The French and Dutch Pavilions opened in 1912 (the latter to be rebuilt in 1953). The Russian Pavilion followed in 1914. The first pavilion to be built after World War I was the Spanish, completed in 1922; its façade would later be renewed. The national pavilion of what was then Czechoslovakia opened in 1926, that of the U.S. in 1930, and the Danish Pavilion (later expanded) in 1932. The Venetian Pavilion was also inaugurated in 1932 (further modified in 1938). And Austria and Greece first had their own country pavilions at the Biennale in 1934, the year this map was published.

  • The first post-war Biennale Arte was held in 1948. Germany was not officially invited to participate with a national presentation, and the German Pavilion housed an exhibition on French Impressionism. Nevertheless, the central pavilion did include a small presentation of German artists, as indicated by the word “Tedeschi” on the map. This presentation took place by virtue of an arrangement between the German Pavilion commissioner of 1934 and 1936, Eberhard Hanfstaengl, and the Biennale president Giovanni Ponti. Since Hanfstaengl, in his capacity as Director General of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung in Munich, had agreed to lend several major works from that collection for the Impressionist show, he was granted the opportunity to present two dozen German artists—among them Otto Dix, Erich Heckel, Karl Hofer, Max Pechstein, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff—in the central exhibition building.

    Read more on the history of the German Pavilion in: Germany’s Contributions to the Venice Biennale 1985–2007, ed. by Ursula Zeller / ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) (Cologne: Dumont, 2009), https://ifa-publikationen.de/en/Arts/Germany-s-Contributions-to-the-Venice-Biennale-1895-2007.html?listtype=search&searchparam=contribution

  • Even if artists of non-German nationality had already exhibited in the German Pavilion before, Klaus Bußmann—the commissioner appointed for the 1993 Biennale—was the first to address the topic of national affiliation explicitly by nominating Hans Haacke and Nam June Paik.

    The year 2009 was the first in which the German Pavilion presented a solo artist of non-German citizenship: Liam Gillick, chosen by the curator Nicolaus Schafhausen.

    In more recent years, artist biographies have become more global, increasingly dissolving national affiliations and attributions.

    Of all persons involved (in an artistic or curatorial capacity) in the history of the pavilion from 1909 to 2019, 750 were German citizens, 52 citizens of other countries, and 25 dual citizens.

    This information was gathered from archival documents at the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and refers solely to the contributions in the Bavarian/German Pavilion (and the German contribution in the French Pavilion in 2013). Contributions by Germans in other buildings, for example the main exhibition, and contributions of German Democratic Republic in the Venetian pavilion or the Arsenale have not been taken into account here.