10. March 2007 – 22. July 2007

Revisions to the Lübecker Totentanz – Historical and transcultural evidence

Peter Gille’s Pictures of Death Dances

For the first time the passionate collector and committed exhibition organizer Dr. Hartmut Kraft from Cologne (among others "Kopffüssler", "Kunst auf Rezept" or "Kunst und Tabu") curates a death dance exhibition of special character in the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel. In a remarkable way, it links historical, contemporary and transcultural aspects.

The focus of the exhibition is the Totentanz (Dance of Death) of the Marienkirche in Lübeck, which was burnt down in 1942 due to the effects of war. Only graphic and painted reproductions have survived, including a large-format book edition, published in first and second editions in 1866 and 1868, which combines image and text and was reissued in 1997. Copies of this reprint were given to 25 contemporary artists for editing. The following artists have participated:

Enrique Asensi, Victor Bonato, Hartwig Ebersbach, Rolf Escher, Herbert Falken, Harald Fuchs, Thomas Gatzemeier, Robert Gernhardt, Peter Gilles, Horst Gläsker, Ferdinando Greco, Thomas Grundmann Franz Hitzler, Birgit Kahle, Saskia Niehaus, Franco Rasma, Eun Nim Ro, Volkmar Schulz-Rumpold, Bernd Schwarting, Fritz Schwegler, Carolein Smit, Ernesto Tatafiore, Axel Vater, Ben Vautier, Giampiero Zanzi

Their revisions have resulted in a creative and differentiated approach to the famous model and an examination of the ancient, eternally new theme of the Dance of Death. While this modern rework of the historical model lies at the center, Hartmut Kraft does not refrain from integrating historical artifacts of this genre from his own extensive collection into the exhibition. The exhibits range from the macabre dance of lively bone-men in Schedel's World Chronicle from 1493 to baroque examples and classical modernism. Since the rediscovery of this theme in the early modern period, hardly any artist has refrained from paying his respects to the dance of the dead. A fascination emanates from death, which no creative person can escape.

While the Hartmut Kraft Collection includes both historical and contemporary works of art, the collector has meanwhile devoted himself strongly to ethnology. It is not surprising that death is also at home in foreign cultures, often surprisingly colorful and ironic. Thus, the exhibition "Dance with the Dance of Death" is rounded off with corresponding masks by dancers of death from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The theme which Cologne artist Peter Gilles enriches with life-size images of dance of death is truly a vivid one, a cycle Gilles is currently working on. He paints over imprints of his own body on canvas using his own blood and paint, creating dynamic and moving pictures.

"Dance with the Dance of Death" is not the first exhibition concerning itself with this theme, but it treats it in an unconventional way between historical and contemporary art, between folklore and ethnology as has never been seen before.


facebook youtube instagram

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V.

Zentralinstitut für Sepulkralkultur

Museum für Sepulkralkultur

Weinbergstraße 25–27
D-34117 Kassel | Germany
Tel. +49 (0)561 918 93-0

Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien
Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
Kassel Documenta Stadt
Deutsche Bischofskonferenz