In 2023, the top exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin will change from the first half of the 20th century to post-Second World War Western art.
The Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) in Berlin is home to twentieth-century art. However, a lack of exhibition space means that the current display of art from the period 1900 to 1945 must make way mid-2023 for an exhibition of western art from 1945 to 1985. The Die Kunst der Gesellschaft / Art of Society, 1900-1945 will run until early July 2023 and followed from September 2023 by Zerreißprobe. Art Between Politics and Society, 1945-1985. Further temporary exhibitions in 2023 include Lucy Raven’s 2021 video installation ReadyMix, the first solo exhibition in a German museum of the French-Hungarian artist Judit Reigl, and Tehching Hsieh’s work One Year Performance 1980–1981 (Time Clock Piece). Time-slot reservation tickets are currently essential to visit the Neue Nationalgalerie — buy tickets online in advance.
Exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin in 2023
The Neue Nationalgalerie in the Kulturforum area of Berlin reopened in 2021 after six years of renovation work of Mies van der Rohe’s masterpiece. This art museum has no permanent display although the main exhibition area on the lower level is used for major exhibitions by the National Gallery that usually lasts around two years. The current exhibition The Art of Society, 1900 to 1945 will run until 2 July 2023 and followed from September 2023 by the art of an ideologically divided nation (and world) in the second half of the twentieth century.
Smaller temporary exhibitions are held in rooms on the lower level but the more prestigious space is the exhibition hall (glass hall) on the upper level and may require a surcharge and separate time-slot reservations.
See Top Temporary Exhibitions in the Kulturforum Berlin in 2023 for displays in the other Kulturforum area museum or an overview of the top exhibitions in all the Berlin State Museums in 2023.
Main Exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin in 2023 and 2024
The main exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie are temporary displays — the opening of the new modern art museum adjacent to the gallery would eventually allow more works to be displayed permanently. The two large exhibition ins the period 2021 to 2024 are:
- Die Kunst der Gesellschaft / Art of Society, 1900-1945 from August 22, 2021, to July 2, 2023
- Zerreißprobe. Art Between Politics and Society, 1945-1985 from September 2023 to July 2024
Die Kunst der Gesellschaft / Art of Society, 1900-1945
A special exhibition of the Nationalgalerie Sammlung from August 22, 2021, to July 2, 2023.
The main exhibition at the re-opening of the Neue Nationalgalerie is Art of Society, 1900-1945. It consists of around 250 works (mostly paintings and sculptures) covering a very turbulent period in the history of Germany and particularly Berlin.
Political events and changes in society in Germany happened fast and cut deep in the first half of the twentieth century. The period opens with attempts to reform the autocratic German Empire but the consequences of the First World War were the abrupt end of the monarchy, several failed (often violent) revolution and insurrection attempts in Germany (and especially in Berlin), hyperinflation, and the ultraliberal Weimar Republic. The Roaring Twenties was followed by financial collapse, the rise of National Socialism, and finally the disaster of the Second World War and the immediate consequences such as the holocaust, refugees, displacement, and Germany in ruins. The period covered stop at the end of the war in 1945 — the division of Germany and the rebuilding of the country (or countries) are the themes of the next major exhibition that will follow in 2022.
The Nationalgalerie owns around 1800 works covering the period 1900 to 1945 but admittedly the focus is on German and European artists. The list of artists for Die Kunst der Gesellschaft exhibition in the Neue Nationalgalerie reads like a who’s who of early 20th century German and European artists and includes amongst others Hans Arp, Max Beckmann, Rudolf Belling, Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Lyonel Feininger, Alberto Giacometti, George Grosz, Hannah Höch, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Hilma af Klint, Oskar Kokoschka, Käthe Kollwitz, Lotte Laserstein, René Magritte, Franz Marc, Paula Modersohn-Becker, George Muche, Otto Mueller, Edvard Munch, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein, Pablo Picasso, Curt Queren, Hans Richter, Christian Schad, Oskar Schlemmer, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Renée Sintenis, Irma Stern, Heinrich Vogeler, and Jenny Wiegmann.
Zerreißprobe. Art Between Politics and Society The Collection Between 1945 and 1985
A special exhibition of the Nationalgalerie Sammlung from September 2023 – July 2024
Due to the lack of exhibition space, Die Kunst der Gesellschaft, 1900-1945 exhibition has to make space for the Zerreißprobe. Kunst zwischen Politik und Gesellschaft. Die Sammlung 1945 – 1985 from September 2023
Hardly any other era was so marked by division, rupture, and transformation as the time after the Second World War. In light of this, the Neue Nationalgalerie is very deliberately showing its new collection display of post-1945 art under the title Zerreißprobe (stress test). Taking the radical performance of the same title by Günter Brus as its point of departure, the Neue Nationalgalerie shows how dramatically post-war art was shaped by the tensions that existed between politics and society.
The presentation features key works from West and East Germany, Western Europe, and the USA, and unpacks central artistic and societal themes from the 20th century, such as issues related to realism and abstraction, politics and society, everyday life and pop culture, feminism or nature and ecology.
On display are works from the Art Informel movement and American Colour Field painting, from Pop Art and Minimalism, as well as works of figures such as Josef Albers, Joseph Beuys, Francis Bacon, Lee Bontecou, Rebecca Horn, Valie Export, Bruce Naumann, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Louise Nevelson, Gerhard Richter, Bridget Riley or Willi Sitte. The presentation will also spotlight a number of works and artists that have recently been added to the collection.
See also the Retrotopia. Design for Socialist Space exhibition (mid-2023 in the Kulturforum) that looks back to the future, and to the time of the Cold War. It explores historical instances of utopian design and the visions for better futures underlying them, focusing explicitly on countries in the former Eastern bloc.
Temporary Exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin in 2023
In addition to the two main exhibitions, the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin (New National Gallery) also scheduled the following smaller presentations in 2023:
Spring 2023 in the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
In the spring of 2023, the Neue Nationalgalerie is showing Lucy Raven’s 2021 video installation ReadyMix. Through the glass façade of the upper hall, the work enters into a dialogue with the construction site of the Museum der Moderne, which is situated directly beside Mies van der Rohe’s famous building.
Lucy Raven was born in 1977 in Tucson, Arizona. She has had solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2013), the Portikus, Frankfurt (2014), and at the Dia Art Foundation, New York (2021).
Judit Reigl. Centers of Dominance
29 June – 8 October 2023 in the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
To mark the donation of three major paintings by Judit Reigl, the Neue Nationalgalerie is showing the first solo exhibition in a German museum of this French-Hungarian artist. With this show, the Neue Nationalgalerie is showcasing an important figure in European abstract art of the second half of the 20th century, one who has not yet received the recognition she deserves.
The exhibition revolves around the paintings Center of Dominance(1959), Mass Writing(1960), and the large-format triptych Man (1967–69), which were donated to the Nationalgalerie by the Fondation de Dotation Judit Reigl. The show also features a number of key loans, works produced between 1950 and 1990, which afford a comprehensive insight into the artist’s central phases of production.
Autumn 2023 in the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
In autumn 2023, the Neue Nationalgalerie will present Tehching Hsieh’s work One Year Performance 1980–1981 (Time Clock Piece). Born in 1950 in Nanzhou, Pingtung, Taiwan, Tehching Hsieh became known internationally in the late 1970s and early 1980s primarily for his durational performances, each of which ran over a year.
The film and photo installation at the Neue Nationalgalerie shows the performance, in which the artist photographed himself punching in on a time clock every hour for a year. The sleep deprivation this caused provoked a kind of delirium, causing a number of photographs to fail. At the end of the performance, Hsieh put together a film out of the individual images, which was exhibited in 2009 at MoMa in New York.
Hsieh’s work was featured in the Taiwanese Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, and he has had solo exhibitions at the Modern Museet in Stockholm (2016) and the Tate Modern in London (2017–18).
More on the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin):
Note: Most Berlin museums and similar sights are open in 2023. Timeslot reservations are essential for only the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, Pergamon Museum (closed from 23 Oct 2023 until 2027!), and Das Panorama. Timeslots are released only around four weeks in advance. Tickets are available from GetYourGuide that seem to have timeslots available when SMB has already sold out — many passes or multi-museum tickets are again available. Individual museum ticket prices range from €6 to €14 (€20 for special exhibitions). Online tickets are skip-the-line — go directly to the gallery entrance to scan the code.
For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:
- Top National Museums and Galleries in Berlin (brief overview)
- Berlin State Museums: What Is Seen Where? (a short description of the collections in the different museums)
- Opening Hours of Berlin State Museums (2023).
- Ticket Prices for Berlin State Museums (prices for museums, temporary exhibitions, combination tickets, online time-slot reservations). Buying online from GetYourGuide is a lot simpler and costs the same as the official museum website. Timeslot reservations are essential for the most popular museums!
- Save with the Berlin Museum Pass – 30 museums (including all the SMB museums) in three days for €32 – a fantastic savings deal.
- Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (official website in German & English).
News & Temporary Exhibitions:
- 2024: Frans Hals in the Gemäldegalerie, Hamburger Bahnhof Contemporary Art
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2023 — overview, in the Kulturforum, in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museum Island, and the Museum of Photography.
- Both the Ethnological and Asian Art museums in the Humboldt Forum (Berlin Schloss) are now fully open — admission to both is still free and currently without the need to book a timeslot.
- The Gemäldegallerie is partly closed until September 2023 but at least 75% is open at any given time.
- The Pergamon Museum will be closed completely from 23 October 2023 and partly reopen only in spring 2027 (with the rest to follow by the mid to late 2030s).
More Museum Reviews and Museum-Specific Information:
- Alte Nationalgalerie with Caspar David Friedrich paintings.
- Altes Museum with Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art.
- Ethnological and Asian Art Museums in the Humboldtforum.
- Friedrichswerdersche Kirche (free admission) with a collection of 19th-century German sculptures.
- Gemäldegalerie with its collection of German and Dutch Old Masters and Italian paintings.
- Kunstgewerbemuseum (Decorative Arts).
- Musical Instruments Museum near the Berliner Philharmonie.
- Neue Nationalgalerie with early 20th-century art and Alexander Calder exhibitions.
- Neues Museum with bust of Nefertiti.
- Pergamon Museum with Ishtar Gate — the whole Pergamonmuseum will be closed from 23 October 2023 until 2027.
- Pergamon Museum Panorama Exhibition with Asisi panoramic painting and Greek statues.
- Photography — Helmut Newton collection and historic photos.
Previous Temporary Exhibitions:
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2022 — overview, in the Kulturforum (David Hockney), in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museumsinsel, Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art, and the Museum of Photography.
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2021 — including the reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie, as well as the Ethnological and Asian Art Museums in the Humboldt Forum.
- Top Special Exhibitions in 2020: Highlights, in Kulturforum, on Museum Island, in the Hamburger Bahnhof, smaller museums, and the opening of the Humboldt Forum in December.