Mission and Commission
Documenta and the Art Market 1955-1968
Mela Dávila Freire


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After extensive research in public and private archives, Mela Dávila recounts the surprising foundations on which one of the most important artistic events in the art world was built. With an accessible and direct language, each chapter reveals new aspects of the links between the exhibition and the emerging art market. Mission and Commission must be read both literally and metaphorically.

Contemporary Art, Theory / History / Criticism
Today, documenta’s independence from the art market is a given – at least, on the formal level, but this has not always been the case. There was a time when documenta was at the centre of a web of vested interests as diverse as the need for funding, the desire to democratize art, and the lucrative pretensions of an emergent art market. Mission and Commission: documenta and the Art Market 1955 - 1968 explores the confluences and conflicts of such interests, approaching a well-known story from a novel, lesser-known angle. Among the main characters of this side of documenta’s history are established celebrities such as Arnold Bode, the “founding father” of the project, but also figures such as, among others, Hein Stünke, owner of the Galerie Der Spiegel and co-organiser of the Kassel exhibition for almost a decade; renowned gallery owner Rudolf Zwirner; visual poet Eugen Gomringer; and the Danish collector and founder of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, Knud Jensen.
160 pages
Paperback, 13.5x21 cm
Polígrafa, 1st edition 2022
ISBN 9788434314818