Magazine article Artforum International

Frank Talk

Magazine article Artforum International

Frank Talk

Article excerpt

THEY DON'T MAKE 'EM LIKE KASPER KONIG anymore, and maybe for Daniel Birnbaum that's a good thing. Asked about the choice of Birnbaum to succeed him as director of the Stadelschule art academy in Frankfurt, Konig blithely remarks that he'd preferred some guy from Glasgow who went elsewhere, but that Birnbaum was perfectly fine. So much for the obligatory PR pribble ("the decision was absolutely unanimous, from the chairman of the board right down to the custodian's assistant"). On the other hand, when it comes to effacingness (self- or otherwise), Birnbaum, thirty-seven, is no slouch either. "Frankfurt has a long cultural history, but really no defined art identity," he says of the city where he'll assume the reins of the Stadelschule--and its renowned Portikus gallery--in January.

With 160 students, the academy is the smallest in Germany, but it's probably the most purposefully eccentric. The venerable Austrian Aktioner Hermann Nitsch still teaches there, and although Peter Kubelka doesn't anymore, his famous, quasi-mystical food-as-art class will be continued, Birnbaum says, in some form. Perhaps most important, Birnbaum intends on keeping Portikus, the school's simple "art container" gallery, alive and well.

Founded in 1987 by Konig when he took the Stadelschule job, it's a box for showing art wedged in between the surviving facade of the Frankfurt municipal library (which was destroyed during World War II) and the institution's rear walls. …

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