James Lee Byars: The Death of James Lee Byars, 1994 (Detail) © Estate of James James Lee Byars / Vanhaerents Art Collection Brussels

Ashes and Gold
A World’s Journey

28.01.2012 –

This exhibition for the first time combines two specific materials in contemporary art which could hardly be more different in terms of their cultural significance.


Gold is, therefore, not only an elementary natural material, but also a valuable resource par excellence and an expression of man’s desire for the exclusive, the rare, the unique. Ash, on the other hand, appears as its dark, opposite side. It is the residue of the combustion process, the last stage in material transformation, irreversible and final. In the field of tension between these highly symbolic but opposite materials we enter a sensually palpable space between nature and culture, value and myth, between life and death.

As materials in art ash and gold are anything but superficial, because they always speak of an open spirit which invents them, stages them and thereby permanently changes itself. And as symbols of cold, eternal material and hot, material-consuming energy, they are materials with great symbolic power which address the observer almost directly. The high-carat exhibition with numerous renowned artists offers a stimulating parcours through the history of art in the last 40 years.

The exhibition was created in collaboration with Dr. Anne Schloen, Cologne.



Pawel Althamer, Gili Avissar, Massimo Bartolini, Lore Bert, Joseph Beuys, Guillaume Bijl, Marcel Broodthaers, James Lee Byars, Jacques Charlier, Paolo Chiasera, Anja Ciupka, Thomas Demand, Igor Eskinja, Luka Fineisen, Lucio Fontana, Michel François, Félix González-Torres, Filip Gilissen, Subodh Gupta, David Hammons, Douglas Henderson, Andy Hope 1930, Rebecca Horn, Alfredo Jaar, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Stefanie Klingemann, Jannis Kounellis, Gereon Krebber, Bruno Krenz, Marie-Jo Lafontaine, Maik und Dirk Löbbert, Heinz Mack, Yaël Nazé, Louise Nevelson, Navid Nuur, Wolfgang Paalen, Mimmo Paladino, Otto Piene, Sigmar Polke, Friederike von Rauch, Man Ray, Erich Reusch, Gerhard Richter, Lars Rosenbohm, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Jürgen Stollhans, Ines Tartler, herman de vries, Andy Warhol, Lawrence Weiner, Claudia Wieser, Richard Wright

Thank you

Exhibition sponsor

Marta partners
Many thanks to the Marta Herford Corporate Partners and Corporate Premium Partners as well as the Marta Fund for New Art for their ongoing support of our program.