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Kim MacConnel, Edible, 1979

Pattern and Decoration

Ornament as Promise


Opening: Thursday, September 20, 2018, 7 pm

Life-affirming colors and ornamental forms on the one hand and a political-emancipatory claim on the other – the Pattern and Decoration movement combines perceived contradictions. In the mid-1970s, the movement developed in the USA, supported among others by feminist artists. Joyce Kozloff, Valerie Jaudon, Robert Kushner, Miriam Schapiro and others question not only traditional notions of art, but also broach broader political themes like the position of women, Native Americans, or ethnic minorities in the global art scene. Pattern and Decoration represents a counter project to the male-dominated art business driven by the predominant values of Western industrial states.

The works of this movement have received little attention in Europe so far, and the Ludwig Forum, home to the largest public European collection of Pattern and Decoration art works, with this exhibition and publication project, is now undertaking a first comprehensive reappraisal and reassessment of the artistic movement trough this exhibition and publication project.

The planned exhibition will present 70 works altogether, showing the movement in all its diversity for the very first time in Europe: The spectrum of artistic forms ranges from mosaics influenced by oriental art, monumental textile collages, paintings, and graphic works through to room-sized installations and video performances. More recent works by Polly Apfelbaum, Christine Streuli, and Rashid Rana, among others show how the achievements of Pattern and Decoration continue to resonate to this day in terms of both form and content. The movement’s interest in pictorial elements from non-Western art is more topical than ever, especially in light of the renewed discussion surrounding a “global art history.” In a world that is far more globalized and characterized by asymmetrical power relations than ever before, the subjects dealt with by Pattern and Decoration have become increasingly relevant and perhaps even controversial, given the current political climate. If one moves beyond the notorious stigma of “ornament and crime” (Adolf Loos), it becomes easy to recognize that despite all their decorative effects, ornaments have also always been symbolically important and crucial for expressing worldviews. To this very day, they still serve artists as a means to reflect on their own culture and criticize, for instance, political systems, the traditional roles imposed on women, social expectations, and conventions.

After Aachen, the exhibition will travel to the Museum of Modern Art, Ludwig Foundation (mumok) in Vienna, one of the main hubs of the Jugendstil movement and thus of the ornament.

The publication accompanying the exhibitions, to be put together and edited by the Ludwig Forum and mumok, undertakes a comprehensive review of the Pattern and Decoration movement based on extensive new scholarly research. With contributions by Manuela Ammer, Esther Boehle, Michael Duncan, Holger Otten, and Anne Swartz as well as some historical texts by Amy Goldin, Valerie Jaudon/ Joyce Kozloff and Harald Szeemann.


Artists of the exhibition: Polly Apfelbaum, Brad Davis, Frank Faulkner, Tina Girouard, Valerie Jaudon, Joyce Kozloff, Robert Kushner, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Kim MacConnel, Miriam Schapiro, Kendall Shaw, Christine Streuli, Rashid Rana, Ned Smyth, Heike Weber, Robert S. Zakanitch, Joe Zucker and others

Partner: Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig (mumok), Vienna

Supporters: With generous support of the Peter and Irene Ludwig Foundation, Terra Foundation for American Art, Stiftung der Sparda-Bank West

Curator: Esther Boehle

Curatorial assistant: Denise Petzold


Jülicher Straße 97-109
52070 Aachen
Tel. +49 241 1807-104
Fax +49 241 1807-101


Opening hours

Tue–Sun 10 am–5 pm
Thu 10 am–8 pm
Mon closed

Library: Tue–Fri 1 pm–5 pm

Closed: 24.12., 25.12., 31.12., 01.01.,
During Carnival Thu & Sun


from 20.04.2018: 10 € / reduced 6 €
combiticket LUFO + IZM 12 € / reduced 8 €
Groups starting from 8 persons 6 €/pers.
„Six for Six“-Ticket 14 € (reduced 10 €)
„Auf ins Museum“-Ticket 12 €
Everyone under 21 years of age: Free Admission!

From now on:
Zentis-Day: Every Thursday free Admission!