Luther and the Avantgarde
Contemporary Art in the Historic Prison in Lutherstadt Wittenberg and in Churches in Berlin und Kassel


Freedom behind bars: Seventy artists from around the world have transformed the Old Prison in Wittenberg into a temporary museum. The exhibition is augmented by special presentations in two churches in Berlin and Kassel.

>> Eija-Liisa Ahtila - Ai Weiwei - Art & Language - Stephan Balkenhol - Christian Boltanski - Monica Bonvicini - Maurizio Cattelan - Mat Collishaw - Olafur Eliasson - Ayse Erkmen - Elger Esser - Isa Genzken - Adrian Ghenie - Gilbert & George - Dorothee Golz - Manuel Graf - Assaf Gruber - Shilpa Gupta - Axel Heil + Roberto Ohrt - Diango Hérnandez - Jörg Herold - Thomas Huber - Richard Jackson - Christian Jankowski - Jia - Ilya und Emilia Kabakov - Yury Kharchenko - Thomas Kilpper & Massimo Ricciardo - Jürgen Klauke - Alexander Kluge - Korpys/Löffler - Eva Kot'átková - Olya Kroytor - Mischa Kuball - Csilla Kudor - Ulrike Kuschel - Andrey Kuzkin - Thomas Locher - Markus Lüpertz - Antje Majewski - Jonathan Meese - Olaf Metzel - Miao Xiaochun - Marzia Migliora - Achim Mohné - Christian Philipp Müller - Eko Nugroho - Pjotr Pawlenski - Ivan Plusch - Johanna Reich - Sebastian Riemer - Robotlab - Julian Rosefeldt - Luise Schröder - Andreas Slominski - Song Dong - Juergen Staack - Sun Xun - Jan Svenungsson - Tal R - Pascale Tayou - Günther Uecker - Paloma Varga Weisz - Cornelius Völker - Erwin Wurm - Xu Bing - Zhang Huan - Zhang Peili

International modern art meets the pugnacious visionary Martin Luther: This is the starting point of the exhibition Luther and the Avantgarde. However, the focus lies not on the great reformer as an historical figure, but as a fountain of ideas and a socio-cultural avantgardist of his time. He challenged the existing power structures, highlighted injustices and unleashed a process of reforms, which reverberated across all areas of society. Luther changed the world. Who are the great initiators, the admonishers, the innovators today? Where does art stand now? Are artists the social avantgarde of our time

Artists from across five continents set out to examine the fascination surrounding Luther, and, like the great reformer before them, pre-occupy themselves intensively with the pressing social issues of our day. They articulate their attitudes to freedom and its adversaries, demagogy and resistance, responsibility and tolerance against the backdrop of profound social conflicts and a multishifting global media landscape.


On show are paintings, sculptures, installations, murals, photographs, posters, films, video and sound works and performances. In addition, Bazon Brock is extending an open invitation to attend his Visitor's School in Wittenberg for a period of 40 days.


Luther and the Avantgarde is a cooperation between the Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur (Foundation for Art and Culture, Bonn) and the Reformationsjubiläum 2017 and part of the World Reformation Exhibition ( /

Art reflects the world in which we live – but also the intellectual and political upheavals of our time. The moment at which Luther overturned accepted “truths”, challenged the prevailing power structures and shocked the known world, is the moment which unleashed tumultuous upheavals. I see here parallels to our own time - and thus, standing at the end of the Gutenberg galaxy, I enquire about the future by applying the means of art.

Johanna Reich, artist


Walter Smerling

Spokesman for the curatorial team and
Chairman of the Board, Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur
(Foundation for Art and Culture), Bonn

Kay Heymer

Head of Modern Art
Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Susanne Kleine

Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn

Dimitri Ozerkov

Head of Modern Art
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Peter Weibel

Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe

Dan Xu

Art Historian
Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V., Bonn

Federal Presidents visit

Photos: Daniel Biskup


Photos: Daniel Biskup
Luther understood and exploited the media possibilities of his time and sought to challenge the forms of social power and influence, which often have their own expiry date.

Christian Jankowski, artist


The questions raised by Luther are as relevant today as they were back then. Yet they demand new answers - for which artists are predestined. They are the seismographs of their time, who distil their ideas into a visual response.

Walter Smerling, Spokesman for the curatorial team


The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue (English / German) with contributions by Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Markus Gabriel, Kay Heymer, Thomas Kaufmann, Susanne Kleine, Dimitiri Ozerkov, Walter Smerling, Wolfgang Ullrich, Peter Weibel, Xu Dan.

ENG / DE, Wienand Verlag, Cologne

33 € / exhibition
39,80 € / book shops