Neue Hallen für Kunst in Schaffhausen

Exemplary – even for the Tate Modern in London

More than 25 years ago, the art entrepreneurs Urs Raussmüller and Christel Sauer converted a former worsted yarn factory in Schaffhausen into an art gallery with four floors of European and American masterpieces from the sixties and seventies.

What makes these «Art Halls» so special is that they offer artists just the right kind of spacious location that can hardly ever be found for large-scale works. In contrast to most conventional galleries, the architecture here in Schaffhausen is not a prominent feature but modestly enables full focus on the artworks. In fact the building has even been specially modified for the appropriate presentation of some works. The exhibition organizers removed the floor between two storeys to make room for a complex installation project by Joseph Beuys. And for the first time in Europe, these Halls of Fame make it possible to fully experience Carl Andre’s «Cuts», a key minimal art work made up of 1232 cement blocks with a total weight of 16 tons.

Spacious light-filled exhibition rooms are one aspect of the Schaffhausen Contemporary Art Gallery. Another aspect is the untypical criteria for selecting works. Not only the best pictures, sculptures or installations by artists like Robert Ryman, Bruce Nauman or Sol LeWitt are shown, but as many of their works as possible. This enables a comprehensive impression of their artistic development – often in leaps and bounds – and of the obsession reflected in their art.

During these twenty-five years, this gallery with its clean-cut architecture and design concept has become an institutional component of art history. The «Schaffhausen Model» is now highly esteemed far beyond the Swiss frontiers – also for example by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Tate Gallery of Modern Art in London.