Institute for European Art HistoryThe Visitors’ Books of Art Collector Franz Moufang

Press Release No. 63/2023
5 June 2023

The Institute for European Art History and the art association Heidelberger Kunstverein present messages and artworks by celebrities and artists between 1917 and 1980

The Heidelberg cultural figure Franz Moufang (1893 to 1984) cultivated a host of varied relationships and was friends with a great many artists, including some of international renown. These contacts are documented in visitors’ books which, alongside messages and signatures, also contain hitherto undiscovered original artworks that were drawn or pasted into the books. The total of 17 books, covering a period of over six decades, are the centrepiece of the exhibition “The Social Network. The Visitors’ Books of Art Collector Franz Moufang”, which the Institute for European Art History of Heidelberg University has made available to an interested public in cooperation with the art association Heidelberger Kunstverein. The exhibition has been curated by students from the institute with support from art historians Prof. Dr Henry Keazor and Dr Liane Wilhelmus. It will be opened on Friday 9 June 2023 and can be viewed until early August in the Kunstverein studio.

Exhibition poster “The Social Network – The Visitors’ Books of Art Collector Franz Moufang”

Legal scholar Franz Moufang was director of Heidelberg’s cultural affairs department from 1945 to 1951 and shaped the city’s artistic life in many ways. As deputy director of the Heidelberger Kunstverein from 1955 to 1965 he raised the profile of the association with exhibitions and long-term loans from his valuable collection. This collection comprised works by many regional and international artists with whom Moufang maintained close friendships. The visitors’ books, which were set out on social or family occasions in Moufang’s home between 1917 and 1980, document these relationships and also contain entries and signatures from notable figures from the cultural and social life of the time. They reveal the dense, wide-ranging network that the Moufang family established over the years.

This social network is outlined with the aid of selected examples and visitors can also delve into it digitally. Furthermore, the exhibition introduces the topic of the visitors’ book as a genre, presenting Franz Moufang and his family, and illustrating Moufang’s relationships and friendships with regional artists such as Willibald Kramm, Hanna Nagel and Marie Marcks, and with internationally significant artists like Gerhard Marcks, Edwin Scharff and Josef Scharl. The show of visitors’ books is supplemented by works from Franz Moufang’s art collection, which were displayed in the Kunstverein under his direction and have now returned for the duration of the exhibition. The exhibition was conceptualised on the basis of a seminar led by Prof. Keazor and Dr Wilhelmus from Heidelberg University’s Institute for European Art History in the 2022/2023 winter semester. The class took place in the framework of the research project “The visitors’ books of the Moufang family”, which is funded by the City of Heidelberg Foundation.

Speakers at the opening event on 9 June will be Kunstverein Board Member Matthias Günther, Kunstverein Director Søren Grammel, and the curators of the exhibition. The composer, DJ and music producer David Moufang − Franz Moufang’s grandson − will provide a musical accompaniment for the vernissage, which begins at 6pm.

The exhibition “The Social Network. The Visitors’ Books of Art Collector Franz Moufang” is on show in the Heidelberger Kunstverein, Hauptstraße 97, from 10 June to 6 August 2023. The opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm. Entrance is free of charge. The exhibition is framed by a full programme of events, including guided tours by the curators, film projections and a lecture.