Nikolaus Kockel

Relevance work

School of Art

Since Modernism, art has been expanding and opening out in all directions and in a variety of ways: Nevertheless, it remains an exclusive and elitist field. How can it be that apparently everything can become art, everyone can be an artist, and yet the boundaries of the art world are in most cases clearly delineated?

The PhD project examines inclusion and exclusion in the art sphere, not by means of the avant-garde positions of artists who make new objects, forms of work, or concepts suitable for art, but rather through the observation of phenomena that initially appear weakened in their legitimacy as art: One example might be Vivian Meyer, who didn’t make any of her works public during her lifetime and who, posthumously (and quite possibly against her will), was declared a clandestine artist. Other examples include forms of art discarded by the conventional critics and museums, but which generate their own intellectual chains of exploitation and discourse, such as the Trump propaganda painter Jon McNaughton. Under such aggravated conditions (with Meyer, for example, the absence of artistic self-mythologization), the work of the “assigners of relevance” as Dietrich Diederichsen termed it, is more clearly discernable, allowing conclusions to be drawn about the seemingly eternal glory of so-called masterpieces.


  • Prof. Dr. Rebentisch