In the second half of 2021, the multipart project Symposion Urbanum Nürnberg focuses attention on art in public spaces. This event marks the fiftieth anniversary of Symposion Urbanum Nürnberg, a near-legendary meeting of sculptors which even half a century later is remarkable for its internationality, its engaged character and its forward-looking approach.
In 1971, twenty-nine sculptures by thirty mainly young artists and groups of artists from Argentina, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Poland, Israel and Japan were created for various locations around the city, using private and public funds. Twenty-four of these works are still present. The mood of new beginnings that gripped Nuremberg in 1971 during the celebrations for Albrecht Dürer’s 500th birthday was also reflected in this ambitious and audacious project that was also one of the first sculpture symposia in urban space. Fed by press coverage, the project was the subject of heated debate and controversy in the city, in some cases going as far as damaging or even destroying individual sculptures.
These events and the circumstances surrounding them are recalled by the Symposion Urbanum Nürnberg project initiated by Beirat für Bildende Kunst, funded by the City of Nuremberg Building Directorate, and developed in cooperation with Kunsthalle Nürnberg im KunstKulturQuartier and Neues Museum Nürnberg. The project includes two exhibitions, a conference, a publication and an extensive programme of guided tours and other events.
The exhibition Art Attacks! 50 Years of Public Art in Nuremberg in the foyer at Neues Museum focuses on the reception of Symposion Urbanum Nürnberg in 1971. It explores the factors that ignited the heated debates in the city and shows that in some cases, the organizers’ optimistic and even missionary aim of bringing art directly into people’s everyday lives met with great hostility.
Half a century after the first steps taken by art in public space, the exhibition also asks what lay behind the reactions of citizens and looks at the position art can occupy within society. Art Attacks! presents critical and approving voices of the time, highlights mechanisms of public discussion, and uses a multimedia approach – from historical photographs to original sculptures scarred by vandalism – to foster productive dialogue about public art today.
At the same time, the exhibition In Situ? On Art in Public Space at Kunsthalle Nürnberg (16 October 2021 to 23 January 2022) looks at the Nuremberg symposium of 1971 in the context of the optimistic social and artistic mood of the time and shows how in tune with the zeitgeist the city was. The 1971 project can be seen as a pioneering link between sculpture symposia held in rural settings and the major exhibitions in urban spaces that followed several years later, such as Skulptur Projekte Münster (first held 1977) and Skulpturenboulevard in Berlin (1981). In addition, the exhibition reflects wider developments in public art between the 1970s and the present.
The project is accompanied by an international conference on 21 and 22 October 2021 during which current issues in urban development, such as digitization, decolo¬nization, mobility and climate protection, will be discussed in terms of the heterogeneous urban society of the future.
In a digital presentation, the project also includes a city map and information about the artworks in public space around Nuremberg, allowing visitors to engage independently and individually with the sculptures and related issues.
An extensive programme of guided tours and events will create links between the surviving sculptures from 1971 and current works in public spaces around the city.
A joint project by Neues Museum in cooperation with the Planning and Construction Office of the City of Nuremberg and Kunsthalle Nürnberg im KunstKulturQuartier.
The sculptures in the urban space can also be discovered on your own.
A free city map - as well as a short guide with information on all works and the website www.su-nuernberg.de both in german language - are available for this purpose.
You can download the city map here.