documenta 6
24 June – 2 October 1977

Artistic Director

Manfred Schneckenburger


Museum Fridericianum, Orangerie, Neue Galerie, Karlsaue






4,800,000 DM

Museum Fridericianum (1977)
Photo: Manfred Vollmer

Although documenta exhibitions take place in a regular sequence, each exhibition does not necessarily build on the previous one. Every documenta “invents itself anew,” as Annelie Lütgens quite rightly pointed out in an article about documenta 6. In a certain sense, however, documenta 6, curated by Manfred Schneckenburger, elaborated on a theme that had been heralded in documenta 4 and 5, namely that of an expanded view of the field of art. The latter two exhibitions introduced such currents as Pop art, Photorealism, and Fluxus to a broad public in Germany for the first time. Documenta 6 then proceeded not only to secure this newly conquered aesthetic terrain through a process of reflection on everyday life in the capitalist system but to extend its boundaries as well. Thus, for example, artists’ books and historical photographs from 140 years of photographic history were exhibited at a documenta for the first time in 1977, and “Autorenkino“ celebrated its premiere. The “Utopian Design” section offered visionary reflections on the problems associated with motor vehicles and prospects for their further development, and never before had so much video art been presented at a documenta. The latter aspect, of course, was a direct outgrowth of the exhibition concept, which, as Manfred Schneckenburger wrote in his exhibition proposal, was concerned with “an idea born in the media-critical 1970s.” The (technology-obsessed) enthusiasm for the mass media that had prevailed in the 1960s gave way in the media world of the 1970s to a critical attitude focused on the growing power of the media and its tendency to distort reality. In much the same way that the world reacted increasingly to the media, rather than the media to the world, this new trend had become evident not least of all in the strategy of the terrorist Red Army Faction, which succeeded in exploiting German television, in particular, for its own propaganda purposes. Yet documenta 6 did not confine itself to far-reaching media criticism; it also undertook an investigation of the media qualities of art, of the “self-reflection of artistic media,” as Schneckenburger wrote in his introduction to the catalogue. Thus paintings about painting were presented, as was film that exposed its own visual grammar, and sculptures that reflected on the options available to them in public space. The resulting self-referential character of many of the works exhibited explored both the limits and the opportunities of art in postmodern event society. And it emphasized the distinctive formal qualities of the arts that emerge from their respective media structures rather than relying on their more or less disturbing substantive content, as had been the case in previous documenta exhibitions. It was precisely this aspect that distinguished this exhibition from documenta 4 and 5.

Ulrike Rosenbach, Herakles - Herkules - King Kong. Das Klischee »Mann« (1977) © Ulrike Rosenbach/VG Bild-Kunst
Photo: Dieter Schwerdtle

Only a few of the 2,700 works of art exhibited can be discussed here by way of example. The presentation devoted to painting began with an in-house scandal. Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, A. R. Penck, and Markus Lüpertz removed their works from the walls the day before the opening because they were not satisfied with Schneckenburger’s presentation. On the other hand, painters from East Germany were represented for the first time ever: Werner Tübke, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Willi Sitte, and Bernhard Heisig exhibited paintings whose aesthetic substance was variously indebted to realism—and which spoke of the options available to art in a real socialist state. The “selfreflective” painting mentioned above was represented by such works as Gotthard Graubner’s Farbraumkörper (Color Space Bodies), Palermo’s reductionist pictures, and the Abstract Expressionist paintings of Willem de Kooning.

Manfred Schneckenburger (1977) © Galerie m

Joseph Beuys, Honigpumpe am Arbeitsplatz (1974-1977) © Joseph Beuys/VG Bild-Kunst
Photo: Eberhard Mons

Freie internationale Hochschule für Kreativität und interdisziplinäre Forschung e.V. (1977)
Photo: Dieter Schwerdtle

Stephen Antonakos, Incomplete Neon-Square (1977)
Photo: Andreas Knierim

Hans-Peter Reuter, documenta-Raumprojekt (1977)
Foto: Werner Lengemann

Works of cinematic art by such directors as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Martin Scorsese, and Stanley Kubrick were presented at Kassel’s Royal Cinema, and the choice of this venue alone was a demonstrative appeal for an opening of “noble” art to popular forms. Much the same can be said of the broadcasts of various artists’ videos on the Third German Television Programs. Experimental film, represented by Michael Snow and Wilhelm and Birgit Hein, among others, was presented on the top floor of the Fridericianum—the long-established, traditional white cube of documenta. Video installations by Bill Viola, Nam June Paik, and Bruce Nauman, for example, inquired, as did the experimental films, into the structural laws that govern the motion picture. The film and video presentations also gave rise to a constructive dialogue between high and low art, and hierarchies that barely still applied at the time were stripped permanently of all validity. With his legendary Freie Internationale Hochschule für Kreativität und interdisziplinäre Forschung (Free International University, 1973–88), which sought to fulfill its political-educational mission during the 100 days and at the center of which the Honigpumpe am Arbeitsplatz (Honey Pump in the Workplace) was in operation in the rotunda of the Fridericianum, Joseph Beuys broke through other boundaries, namely those between political activism and performance art. Works that remain in Kassel today include Laserscape (1977) by Horst A. Baumann and two sculptural works in outdoor space: the oversize double picture frame entitled Rahmenbau (Frame Construction, 1977), also known as “Landscape in Slide,” by Haus-Rucker-Co, erected above the Karlsaue, and Walter de Maria’s underground Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977). While the costly process of boring a hole 1,000 meters deep and filling it with brass rods triggered a scandal at the time, this significant work of Land and Conceptual art is now one of the icons of the documenta.

Haus-Rucker-Co, Rahmenbau (1977)

Horst H. Baumann, Laser-Environment (1977)

Walter De Maria, The Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977);
Ferdinand Kriwet, Elektronische Lichtzeichnung zum Thema documenta-Kritik (1977)
Reiner Ruthenbeck, Kreuz (1977) © Reiner Ruthenbeck/VG Bild-Kunst
Photo: Werner Lengemann

Participating Artists


  • Abbott, Berenice
  • Acconci, Vito
  • Ackermann, Peter
  • Adami, Valerio
  • Adams, Mac
  • Adamson, Robert
  • Adler, Billy
  • Akerman, Chantal
  • Albert, Hermann
  • Alechinsky, Pierre
  • Alfano, Carlo
  • Altenbourg, Gerhard (Ströch, Gerhard)
  • Altman, Robert
  • Anatol (Herzfeld, Anatol & Herzfeld, Karl Heinz)
  • Andersch, Gisela
  • Andersen, Thom
  • Anderson, Laurie
  • Andre, Carl
  • Angelopoulos, Thodoros
  • Anonym (Gruppe Anonym)
  • Anschütz, Ottomar
  • Antes, Horst
  • Ant Farm (Gruppe Ant Farm)
  • Antonakos, Stephen
  • Arakawa, Shusaku
  • Arbus, Diane
  • Arman (Armand, Fernandez & Fernandez, Arman & Arman, Fernandez Pierre & Fernandez, Armand Pierre)
  • Arrabal, Fernando
  • Arroyo, Eduardo (Arroyo, Eduardo Juan Gonzalez)
  • Art & Language (Art and Language & Gruppe Art & Language & Art & Language Institute)
  • Askevold, David
  • Atget, Jean Eugène Auguste (Atget, Eugéne)
  • Attersee, Christian Ludwig
  • Aubertin, Bernard
  • Avramidis, Joannis (Avramidis, Johannis)
  • Aycock, Alice


  • Bacon, Francis
  • Badura, Michael
  • Baldus, Eduard Dennis
  • Balthus (Balthus, Claude Roy & Klossowski de Rola, Balthazar)
  • Bandau, Joachim
  • Bark, Jared
  • Barry, Robert
  • Bartlett, Jennifer
  • Baruchello, Gianfranco
  • Baselitz, Georg (Kern, Hans-Georg)
  • Batistella, Giorgio
  • Baukhage, Gerd
  • Baumann, Horst H.
  • Baumgarten, Bodo
  • Baumgartl, Monika
  • Bayard, Hippolyte
  • Bayrle, Thomas
  • Beaton, Cecil (Beaton, Sir Cecil & Beaton, Cecil Walter Hardy)
  • Becher, Bernd & Hilla (Becher, Bernhard und Hilla)
  • Beckley, Bill
  • Beck, Stephan
  • Bellocq, Ernest James
  • Benning, James
  • Bernhard, Franz
  • Bertholin, Jean Marie (Bertholin, Jean-Marie)
  • Bertone, Nuccio (Bertone, Giuseppe)
  • Bertuccelli, Jean-Louis (Bertucelli, Jean-Louis)
  • Beuys, Joseph
  • Biel, Michael von (von Biel, Michael)
  • Bischof, Werner
  • Bisson, Auguste und Louis (Bisson fils & Bisson frères)
  • Blank, Irma (Blanck, Irma)
  • Blossfeldt, Karl
  • Blume, Bernhard (Blume, Bernhard Johannes)
  • Bochner, Mel
  • Böhmler, Claus
  • Bohnen, Blythe
  • Bohrmann, Karl-Heinz (Bohrmann, Karl)
  • Boltanski, Christian
  • Botero, Fernando
  • Bourke-White, Margaret (White, Margaret Bourke-)
  • Brady, Matthew B.
  • Brassaï (Halász, Gyula)
  • Brecht, George
  • Brehmer, KP (Brehmer, Klaus-Peter & Brehmer, K. P.)
  • Breitner, George Hendrik
  • Breloh, Heinz
  • Brisley, Stuart
  • Brodwolf, Jürgen
  • Broodthaers, Marcel
  • Brouwn, Stanley
  • Brus, Günter (Brus, Günther)
  • Brusilowskij, Anatolij (Brusilovskij, Anatolij & Brusilowskij, Anatol & Brusilovskij, Anatolij & Brusilowskij, Anatol)
  • Bruszewski, Wojciech
  • Buñuel, Luis
  • Burden, Chris
  • Buren, Daniel
  • Burton, Scott
  • Buthe, Michael
  • Byars, James Lee


  • Cacciola, Enzo
  • Cameron, Julia Margaret
  • Campbell, Colin
  • Campus, Peter
  • Cane, Louis
  • Caniaris, Vlassis
  • Capa, Robert (Friedmann, Anfrei)
  • Carjat, Etienne
  • Carrega, Ugo
  • Carroll, Lewis (Dodgson, Charles Lutwidge)
  • Cartier-Bresson, Henri (Bresson, Henri Cartier-)
  • Center for Advanced Visual Studies (Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Center for Advanced Visual Studies)
  • Chabrol, Claude
  • Chase-Riboud, Barbara (Riboud, Barbara Chase- & Chase-Riboud, B. & Chase Riboud, Barbara)
  • Chillida, Eduardo
  • Christo (Javacheff, Christo)
  • Chryssa (Chryssa, Varden M.)
  • Close, Chuck (Close, Charles)
  • Cohen-Gan, Pinchas (Gan, Pinchas Cohen-)
  • Cohen, Harold
  • Collins, James
  • Condé, Miguel
  • Conrad, Tony
  • Cortright, Steven M.
  • Costa, Claudio
  • Craig-Martin, Michael (Martin, Michael Craig-)
  • Cremer, Fritz
  • Cuevas, José Luis
  • Curtis, Edward S.


  • Dado (Djuric, Miodrag)
  • Daguerre, Louis Jacques Mandé
  • Darboven, Hanne
  • D'Armagnac, Ben (Armagnac, Ben d')
  • Davie, Alan
  • Davies, John
  • Davis, Douglas
  • Dekkers, Ger (Dekkers, Gerrit Hendrik)
  • Delamotte, Philip Henry
  • Delano, Jack (Ovcharov, Jack & Ovcharow, Jack)
  • De Maria, Walter (Maria, Walter de & DeMaria, Walter)
  • Denes, Agnes
  • Deux, Fred (Douassot, Jean)
  • Dibbets, Jan (Dibbets, Gerardus Johannes Maria)
  • Dimitrijevic, Braco
  • Dine, Jim
  • Dixon & Boole (Gruppe Dixon and Boole)
  • Dore O. (O., Dore)
  • Dossi, Ugo
  • Dotremont, Christian
  • Downey, Juan
  • Downsborough, Peter
  • Druks, Michael
  • Duchamp, Marcel (Selavy, Rose)
  • Duncan, David Douglas


  • Eddy, Don (Eddy, Donald)
  • Efrat, Benni (Efrath, Benni)
  • Eisenstein, Sergej (Eisenstein, Sergei & Ejzenstejn, Sergej M. & Eisenstein, Sergej Michailowitsch)
  • Eliasberg, Paul
  • Elk, Ger van (Van Elk, Ger)
  • Emerson, Peter Henry
  • Emigholz, Heinz
  • Emshwiller, Ed
  • Erben, Ulrich
  • Erb, Leo
  • Erfurth, Hugo
  • Evans, Garth
  • Evans, Walker
  • Export, Valie (Lehner, Waltraut)


  • Fahlström, Oyvind (Fahlström, Öyvind & Fahlström, Axel Christian)
  • Farina, Ralston
  • Fasnacht, Heide
  • Fassbinder, Rainer Werner
  • Feldmann, Hans-Peter
  • Fellini, Federico
  • Fenton, Roger
  • Ferrari, Vincenzo
  • Filliou, Robert
  • Flavin, Dan
  • Fleischner, Richard Hugh
  • Fontana, Corsin
  • Ford Motor Company Design Center & General Motors Technical Center, Design Staff (General Motors Technical Center, Design Staff & Ford Motor Company Design Center)
  • Forest, Fred
  • Fox, Terry
  • Frazier, Charles
  • Freed, Hermine
  • Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research (Freie Internationale Hochschule für Kreativität und Interdisziplinäre Forschung & FIU)
  • Frenken, Wil
  • Freund, Gisele
  • Freyer, Achim
  • Friedlander, Lee
  • Fulton, Hamish


  • Gäfgen, Wolfgang
  • Gardner, Alexander
  • Gaul, Winfred (Gaul, Winfried)
  • Geiger, Rupprecht
  • Geißler, Michael und Gruppe Video Audio Medien
  • Genthe, Arnold
  • Gerz, Jochen
  • Gette, Paul-Armand
  • Gidal, Peter
  • Giersbach, William H.
  • Gilbert & George (Gilbert and George)
  • Gillette, Frank
  • Girke, Raimund
  • Girouard, Tina
  • Gitlin, Michael
  • Gloeden, Wilhelm von (Gloeden, Baron Wilhelm von)
  • Godard, Jean-Luc
  • Gojowczyk, Hubertus (Gojowczik, Hubertus)
  • Gonschior, Kuno
  • Graeser, Camille
  • Graham, Dan
  • Gramatzki, Eve
  • Gramse, Tom J.
  • Graubner, Gotthard
  • Graves, Nancy
  • Green, Alan
  • Greenbaum, Marty
  • Grosvenor, Robert (Grosvenor, Robert Strawbridge)
  • Gruber, Hetum (htmrbr)
  • Guttuso, Renato


  • Haese, Roël d' (D'Haese, Roël)
  • Hagenberg, Helfried
  • Hall, David
  • Hall, Nigel
  • Halsman, Philippe
  • Hamilton, Richard
  • Hangen, Heijo
  • Haraguchi, Noriyuki
  • Hauser, Erich
  • Haus-Rucker-Co (Haus Rucker & Co & Rucker-Co)
  • Hawarden, Clementine (Hawarden, Clementina & Elphinstone, Clementine & Hawarden, Clementina Elphinstone)
  • Hays, Ron
  • Head, Tim
  • Heerich, Erwin
  • Heibel, Axel
  • Hein, W + B (Hein, W. und B.)
  • Heisig, Bernhard
  • Heizer, Michael
  • Held, Al
  • Helms, Dietrich
  • Herzog, Werner (Stipetic, Werner)
  • Hesse, Eva
  • Hill, David Octavius
  • Hilliard, John
  • Hine, Lewis W. (Hine, Lewis Wickes)
  • Hirszman, Leon
  • Höckelmann, Antonius
  • Hockney, David
  • Hödicke, K. H. (Hödicke, Karl Horst)
  • Hofkunst, Alfred
  • Hoflehner, Rudolf
  • Hofschen, Edgar
  • Hollein, Hans
  • Hoover, Nan (Hoover, Nancy)
  • Horn, Rebecca
  • Horst, Horst Paul (Horst, Horst P)
  • Hoyningen-Huene, George (Huene, George Hoyningen-)
  • Huebler, Douglas
  • Huillet, Danièle
  • Hüppi, Alfonso


  • Imamura, Shohei
  • Insley, Will
  • Ipoustéguy, Jean Robert
  • Isenrath, Hans Paul (Isenrath, Paul)


  • Jacobs, Ken (Jacobs, Kenneth)
  • Jancsó, Miklós
  • Janssen, Horst (Jansen, Horst)
  • Jaray, Paul
  • Jastram, Jo
  • Jodorowsky, Alejandro
  • Johns, Jasper
  • Johnson, Douglas James
  • Johnston, Frances Benjamin
  • Jonas, Joan
  • Judd, Donald
  • Jungwirth, Martha


  • Kahlen, Wolf
  • Kaminski, Max G.
  • Kanovitz, Howard
  • Kantor, Tadeusz
  • Kaprow, Allan
  • Karavan, Dani
  • Karmitz, Marin
  • Kawara, On (On Kawara)
  • Keaton, Buster (Keaton, Joseph Francis)
  • Kelly, Ellsworth
  • Kenny, Michael
  • Kertész, André (Kertesz, Andor)
  • Kiefer, Anselm
  • Kipper, Harry (Haselberg, Martin Rochus Sebastian von)
  • Kirili, Alain
  • Kitaj, R. B. (Kitaj, Ronald Brooks)
  • Klapheck, Konrad
  • Klauke, Jürgen
  • Kluge, Alexander
  • Knaupp, Werner
  • Knipp, Günther
  • Knizák, Milan
  • Knoebel, Imi (Knoebel, Wolfgang & Knoebel, Wolf & Knoebel, Klaus Wolf)
  • Kochs, Alice (Schorbach, Karin Alice)
  • Kohlhöfer, Chris (Kohlhöfer, Christof)
  • Kolář, Jiří
  • Kooning, Willem de (de Kooning, Willem)
  • Korot, Beryl
  • Kosuth, Joseph
  • Kounellis, Jannis
  • Kovács, András
  • Kovács, Attila
  • Kren, Kurt
  • Krieg, Dieter
  • Kriesche, Richard
  • Krims, Les (Krims, Leslie Robert)
  • Kriwet, Ferdinand
  • Krull, Germaine
  • Kubota, Shigeko
  • Kubrick, Stanley
  • Kuehn, Gary


  • Lakner, László
  • Lamothe, Arthur
  • Landry, Richard
  • Lange, Dorothea
  • Lang, Nikolaus
  • Latham, John
  • Lee, Russel
  • Le Gac, Jean (Gac, Jean Le & LeGac, Jean)
  • Le Gray, Gustave (Gray, Gustave le & LeGray, Gustave)
  • Le Grice, Malcolm (Grice, Malcolm Le & LeGrice, Malcolm)
  • Leisgen, Michael und Barbara (Leisgen, Barbara und Michael & Leisgen, Michael & Barbara)
  • Le Va, Barry (Va, Barry Le & LeVa, Barry)
  • Levine, Les
  • LeWitt, Sol (Le Witt, Sol)
  • Lichtenstein, Roy (Lichtenstein, Roy Fox)
  • Lindner, Richard
  • Lingner, Michael
  • Lobe, Lawrence
  • López, Francisco
  • Lopez-Garcia, Antonio (Garcia, Antonio Lopez-)
  • Losey, Joseph
  • Luginbühl, Bernhard
  • Lüpertz, Markus
  • Lüthi, Bernhard
  • Lüthi, Urs
  • Lynes, George Platt (Platt Lynes, George)


  • Maciunas, George
  • Mack, Heinz
  • Magnús Pálsson (Pálsson, Magnús)
  • Malfatti, Nino
  • Man, Felix H. (Man, Felix Hans & Baumann, Hans Felix Siegismund & Baumann, Hans Felix Sigismund)
  • Mangold, Robert
  • Mangold, Sylvia Plimack (Plimack Mangold, Sylvia)
  • Mann, Andy
  • Mantz, Werner
  • Manzoni, Piero
  • Manzù, Giacomo (Manzoni, Giacomo)
  • Mapplethorpe, Robert
  • Marden, Brice
  • Martin, Agnes
  • Martin, Kenneth
  • Matta-Clark, Gordon (Clark, Gordon Matta-)
  • Matta, Roberto Sebastian (Matta & Echaurren, Roberto Sebastian Antonio Matta)
  • Mattheuer, Wolfgang
  • Maughan, Cynthia Lee
  • McCall, Anthony
  • McCallion, Barry
  • McLean, Bruce
  • Mead, Syd (Mead, Sydney)
  • Mehrjui, Dariush
  • Merz, Gerhard
  • Merz, Mario
  • Mesch, Borg
  • Messager, Annette
  • Meyer, Adolph de (Meyer, Baron Adolph de & Demeyer-Watson, Adolph)
  • Michals, Duane
  • Michaux, Henri
  • Mields, Rune
  • Mikl, Josef
  • Miralda, Antoni
  • Miró, Joan
  • Mitta, Alexander
  • Mölzler, Milan
  • Moninot, Bernard
  • Moore, Henry
  • Moore, Stefan
  • Moorman, Charlotte
  • Morales, Carmengloria
  • Morandini, Marcello
  • Morellet, François
  • Morell, Pit
  • Moreno, Maria
  • Morley, Malcolm
  • Morris, Robert
  • Mucha, Alphonse (Mucha, Alfons)
  • Mulas, Ugo
  • Muntadas, Antonio
  • Murch, Walter
  • Murphy, J. J.
  • Music, Zoran (Music, Anton Zoran & Music, Antonio)
  • Muybridge, Eadweard (Muggeridge, Edward James)


  • Nachi, Tomi

Artistic Director
Mandred Schneckenburger

Born in 1938 in Stuttgart

Studied German language and literature, history, art history, and ethnology Worked as a higher secondary school teacher Worked as a freelance art and theater critic


Artistic Director, Weltkulturen und Moderne Kunst at the Olympics in Munich


Director of the Kunsthalle Köln, Cologne


Artistic Director of documenta 6, Kassel


Artistic Director of documenta 8, Kassel


documenta Professor at the Gesamthochschule Kassel, Kassel


Director of the Kunstakademie Münster, Münster


Curator of the lichtsicht biennial, Bad Rothenfelde

Awards (selection):


Awarded the Hessian Culture Prize for his work as Artistic Director of documenta 6 and 8