1. documenta
    27 June – 6 October 1968
    International Exhibition

Artistic Director

Arnold Bode


Museum Fridericianum, Orangerie, Karlsaue, Galerie an der Schönen Aussicht






2,817,000 DM

Dan Flavin, Schwarzlichtraum © Dan Flavin/VG Bild-Kunst
Photo: Werner Lengemann

The fourth documenta, and the last for which Arnold Bode was chiefly responsible, was presented under the somewhat overly youthful-sounding slogan “The Youngest documenta Ever.” A considerably younger documenta advisory board was expected to bring the “International Exhibition” in Kassel into
closer harmony with the spirit of the times in 1968. Absent for the first time was Werner Haftmann, one of the forefathers of documenta. Will Grohmann left the board along with him, followed later by Werner Schmalenbach and Fritz Winters. Following the retrospective focus of the 1955 documenta and the attempt to pick up the thread of international developments in art four years later, the time had come for a fundamental reassessment of position after the third exhibition, at the latest. In the aftermath of several internal disputes, a twenty-six member team was chosen to render decisions on the selection of artists in keeping with ground-roots democratic principles—not from a safe historical distance that went hand in hand with a latently authoritarian art-historical assessment, as had always been the case before, but with a consistent focus on the contemporary, i.e., the four years that had passed since the last documenta. Many of the works presented were completed shortly before the exhibition or actually produced specifically for documenta—a trend that would continue. Now, in 1968, Pop art made its grand, though somewhat delayed, entrance in Kassel, along with Color Field painting, Post-Painterly Abstraction, Op Art, and Minimal Art. In an imposing presentation that extended over two stories in the staircase of the rotunda, James Rosenquist’s Fire Slide (1967) established its place in the visual memory of documenta 4. The slogan “size matters” was affirmed even in the titles of Roy Lichtenstein’s Big Modern Painting (1967), Tom Wesselmann’s Great American Nude No. 98 (1968), Robert Indiana’s The Great Love (1966) in the Main Hall of the Fridericianum, and Claes Oldenburg’s Giant Poolballs (1967) in the Galerie an der Schönen Aussicht. Robert Morris’s L-Shapes (1967), Sol LeWitt’s expansive 47 Three-Part Variations on Three Different Kinds of Cubes (1968), and the paintings by Barnett Newman (Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue II, 1967) and Morris Lewis also impressed visitors
with imposing formats.

James Rosenquist, Fire Slide (1967) © James Rosenquist/VG Bild-Kunst
Photo: Werner Lengemann

Al Held, Greek Garden (1966), Mao (1967) © Al Held/VG Bild-Kunst; Frank Stella, Hagmatana I (1967), Bafq (1966) © Frank Stella/VG Bild-Kunst; Robert Morris, 2 L-Shapes (1967), untitled (1967) © Robert Morris/VG Bild-Kunst; Donald Judd, untitled (1968) © Donald Judd/VG Bild-Kunst

Museum Fridericianum:
Kenneth Noland, Date Line (1967) © Kenneth Noland/VG Bild-Kunst; Sol leWitt, 47 Three-Part Variations on Three Different Kind of Cubes (1968) © Sol LeWitt/VG Bild-Kunst; Barnett Newman, Who is afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue II (1967), Profile of Light (1967) © Barnett Newman/VG Bild-Kunst; Morris Louis, *Alpha-Sigma *(1961)
Photo: Werner Lengemann

Museum Fridericianum:
Tom Wesselmann, Great American Nude *No. 98 (1968), *Mouth No. 15 (1968) © Tom Wesselmann/VG Bild-Kunst; Richard Smith, Second Time Around 1-5 *(1967); Roy Lichtenstein, *Yellow Brushstroke II (1965), © Roy Lichtenstein/VG Bild-Kunst; Escobar Marisol, The Dealers (1965/66), Couple (1965/66); Robert Indiana, The Great Love (1966), © Robert Indiana/VG Bild-Kunst; Larry Poons, One Credit (1967), © Larry Poons/VG Bild-Kunst
Photo: Hans-Kurt Boehlke

Andy Warhol, Flowers (1964)

Museum Fridericianum:
Jos Manders, Relief No. 9 (Accent No. 9) (1968), Vierkantje Communicatie (1968), Communicatie (1967), Gespreide communicatie (1968)

Bazon Brock, Besucherschule (1968)
Photo: Hans Puttnies

Shinkichi Tajiri, Granny's Knot (1968); Erich Hauser, Säule 9/68 (1968), Raumsäule 7/68 (1967/68) © Erich Hauser/VG Bild-Kunst; Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaciale - Nature (1965), © Lucio Fontana/VG Bild-Kunst; Shinkichi Tajiri,* 8 x 3 (1968); Klaus Geldmacher & Francesco Mariotti, *documenta-Projekt (1968), © Klaus Geldmacher/VG Bild-Kunst
Photo: Carl Eberth

All in all, roughly one third of the entire exhibition was devoted to art from the U.S., as represented by fifty-one artists, a fact that earned documenta 4 the nickname “Americana.” In 1968, the year of student protests and anti–Vietnam War demonstrations, this triggered massive counterreactions—although the demonstrations in Kassel were relatively harmless compared with those that accompanied the Biennale in Venice that same year. Students waving red flags disrupted the opening addresses at Friedrichsplatz, and the morning press conference was effectively transformed into a Happening by a group of artists led by Wolf Vostell and Jörg Immendorf. Among other things, the activists protested the total absence of such contemporary currents as Fluxus, Happenings, and performance art at the official exhibition. And indeed, the omissions of documenta 4 with regard to the German art scene were glaring compared with the gaps in the presentation of U.S. art. While the conceptual art of a John Baldessari or a Joseph Kosuth was overlooked, as was performance art (Vito Acconci, Dan Graham), the most important exponents and movements in the fields of painting, sculpture, and environmental art were represented by Ed Kienholz, Robert Rauschenberg, and George Segal. Although Joseph Beuys did present a spatial installation, the group of German artists selected for presentation, including Horst Antes, Joseph Albers, and Erwin Heerich, for example, was not particularly innovative. Important artists of the 1960s, including Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Imi Knoebel, and Blinky Palermo, were absent, not to mention Fluxus and Happenings. A number of names were missing from the list of women artists, among them Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, and Rebecca Horn. Four of the 149 artists presented were women: Jo Baer, Louise Nevelson, Marisol, and Bridget Riley.
Outdoors, documenta ventured for the first time onto the Karlswiese, which was used extensively—primarily for the presentation of more traditional, semiabstract sculptures. It was evidently still too early for Land art in 1968. One particularly memorable work featured there was Christo’s (Jeanne-Claude was not yet mentioned as coauthor at the time) spectacular 5600 Cubicmeter Package (1968), which introduced at least the rudiments of a new concept of sculpture. Following multiple failed attempts, the air-filled tube finally proved capable of standing upright and rose like a phallus to a respectable height of fifty-eight meters (thereby earning various fitting nicknames from the people of Kassel).


Christo, 5450 m cubic package (1967/68)
Photo: Stadt- und Kreisbildstelle Kassel

One novel work with a claim to social relevance was Bazon Brock’s Besucherschule (Visitors School), in which he aimed to make the changing references to reality in contemporary art comprehensible to a broad public. With his didactic, performancebased venture into art education, he exerted a lasting influence on the educational activities involved in subsequent documenta exhibitions.

Participating Artists


  • Albers, Josef
  • Alviani, Getulio
  • Andre, Carl
  • Antes, Horst
  • Anuszkiewicz, Richard
  • Arakawa, Shusaku
  • Arman (Armand, Fernandez & Fernandez, Arman & Arman, Fernandez Pierre & Fernandez, Armand Pierre)
  • Artschwager, Richard (Artschwager, Richard Ernst)


  • Baer, Jo (Baer, Joe & Kleinberg, Josephine Gail)
  • Bell, Larry Stuart
  • Berns, Ben
  • Beuys, Joseph
  • Bladen, Ronald (Wells, Charles Ronald)
  • Brüning, Peter
  • Bury, Pol


  • Calderara, Antonio
  • Camargo, Sergio de
  • Caro, Anthony (Caro, Alfred)
  • Castellani, Enrico
  • Castillo, Jorge
  • Chillida, Eduardo
  • Christo (Javacheff, Christo)
  • Chryssa (Chryssa, Varden M.)
  • Colombo, Gianni
  • Cornell, Joseph
  • César (Baldaccini, César)


  • Davis, Ron (Davis, Ronald)
  • Dekkers, Ad (Dekkers, Adrian)
  • Demarco, Hugo
  • De Maria, Walter (Maria, Walter de & DeMaria, Walter)
  • Diller, Burgoyne
  • Dine, Jim
  • Di Suvero, Mark (Suvero, Mark di & DiSuvero, Mark)
  • Dobes, Milan
  • Dubuffet, Jean


  • Engels, Pieter
  • Ernest, John


  • Fahlström, Oyvind (Fahlström, Öyvind & Fahlström, Axel Christian)
  • Flavin, Dan
  • Fontana, Lucio
  • Fruhtrunk, Günter


  • Geiger, Rupprecht
  • Geldmacher, Klaus & Mariotti, Francesco
  • Gerstner, Karl
  • Gnoli, Domenico
  • Goeschl, Roland
  • Golden, Daan van
  • Graevenitz, Gerhard von
  • Graubner, Gotthard


  • Hains, Raymond
  • Hamilton, Richard
  • Hauser, Erich
  • Heerich, Erwin
  • Held, Al
  • Higgins, Edward
  • Hill, Anthony
  • Hockney, David
  • Hoyland, John


  • Indiana, Robert (Clark, Robert)
  • Irwin, Robert


  • Jacquet, Alain George Frank
  • Jensen, Al (Jensen, Alfred)
  • Johns, Jasper
  • Jones, Allen
  • Judd, Donald


  • Kadishman, Menashe
  • Kampmann, Utz
  • Kelly, Ellsworth
  • Kienholz, Edward
  • King, Phillip
  • Kitaj, R. B. (Kitaj, Ronald Brooks)
  • Klapheck, Konrad
  • Klein, Yves
  • Kolář, Jiří
  • Kosice, Gyula (Fallik, Fernando)
  • Krushenick, Nicholas


  • Lenk, Thomas
  • Le Parc, Julio (Parc, Julio Le)
  • LeWitt, Sol (Le Witt, Sol)
  • Lichtenstein, Roy (Lichtenstein, Roy Fox)
  • Lindner, Richard
  • Lohse, Richard Paul
  • Lo Savio, Francesco (Savio, Francesco Lo & LoSavio, Francesco)
  • Louis, Morris (Bernstein, Morris Louis)


  • Malaval, Robert
  • Manders, Jos
  • Manzoni, Piero
  • Mari, Enzo
  • Marisol (Escobar, Marisol)
  • Martin, Kenneth
  • Mavignier, Almir (Silva Mavignier, Almir da & Da Silva Mavignier, Almir)
  • Megert, Christian
  • Morellet, François
  • Morris, Robert
  • Munari, Bruno


  • Nauman, Bruce
  • Negret, Edgar
  • Nevelson, Louise (Berliawsky, Louise)
  • Newman, Barnett
  • Noland, Kenneth (Noland, Kenneth Clifton)
  • Nusberg, Lev (Nussberg, Lew V.)


  • Oldenburg, Claes
  • Olitski, Jules (Demikovosky, Jevel)


  • Paolozzi, Eduardo (Paolozzi, Eduardo Luigi)
  • Pichler, Walter
  • Pistoletto, Michelangelo
  • Poons, Larry


  • Raetz, Markus
  • Ramon
  • Rauschenberg, Robert (Rauschenberg, Milton Ernest)
  • Raveel, Roger
  • Raysse, Martial
  • Reichert, Josua
  • Reinhardt, Ad
  • Rickey, George (Rickey, George Warren)
  • Riley, Bridget
  • Rivers, Larry
  • Rosenquist, James
  • Roth, Dieter (Rot, Diter)


  • Samaras, Lucas
  • Sandle, Michael
  • Schoonhoven, Jan J.
  • Segal, George
  • Severen, Dan van (Van Severen, Dan)
  • Smith, David (Smith, David R.)
  • Smith, Richard
  • Smith, Tony
  • Stanley, Robert (Stanley, Bob)
  • Stella, Frank
  • Sykora, Zdenék


  • Tajiri, Shinkichi
  • Takis (Vassilakis, Panayotis)
  • Talman, Paul
  • Thek, Paul
  • Tilson, Joe
  • Tinguely, Jean
  • Télémaque, Hervé
  • Tàpies, Antoni (Puig, A.T.)
  • Trova, Ernest
  • Tucker, William
  • Turnbull, William
  • Tyzack, Michael


  • Uecker, Günther
  • Ultvedt, Per Olof


  • Vasarely, Victor (Vasarely, Victor de & Vásárhelyi, Gyözö)
  • Visser, Carel (Visser, Carel Nicolaas)
  • Voss, Jan


  • Warhol, Andy (Warhola, Andrew)
  • Wesselmann, Tom (Wesselman, Tom)
  • Westermann, Horace Clifford (Westermann, H. C. & Clifford Westermann, Horac)

Artistic Director
Arnold Bode (1900–1977)

Born in 1900 in Kassel, died in 1977 in Kassel

1919 – 1924

Studied painting and graphic art at the Kunstakademie Kassel, Kassel

1922 – 1929

Exhibition of modern art in the Orangerie in Kassel


Founded the Kasseler Sezession and the artists’ group die Fünf

from 1926

Independent painter and graphic artist

1929 – 1977

Joined the SPD; member of the SPD


Instructor at the Städtisches Werklehrer-Seminar, Berlin

1931 – 1933

Deputy Director of the Werklehrer-Seminar, Berlin


Removed from office by the National Socialist government; banned from the artist’s profession


Inner immigration in Kassel


Interned as a prisoner of war by the U.S. forces; return to Kassel following his release

from 1945

Developed project plans for a major international art exhibition; founded the Gesellschaft Abendländischer Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts


Re-establishment of the Kunstakademie in Kassel, which had been closed in 1932

1950 – 1955

Freelance work as an interior and furniture designer


Artistic Director of the first documenta in Kassel


Artistic Director of documenta 2, Kassel


Artistic Director of documenta 3, Kassel

Awards (selection):


Awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany


Awarded the Hessian Culture Prize for his work as Artistic Director of documenta 1-4 (posthumously)