“I Am A Relaxed And Happy Person” – Nicolaus Schafhausen, Director Of Kunsthalle Wien

Who is this man with these expressive black eyebrows? A lot people might know who, as this German is a big name in the art world: Nicolaus Schafhausen, the new director of Kunsthalle Wien (*1965 in Düsseldorf) and curator of the 6th Bucharest Biennale 2014. The New Contemporary met him for a cup of coffee at the Kunsthalle Project Space on Vienna’s Karlsplatz. We chatted about the pleasures of life and a bit about art… but just a bit…

“Schafhausen is currently one of the most successful art managers in Europe. Given his experience he has an eye on new developments, a feeling for talents…” (Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, City Councillor for Cultural Affairs). Indeed, Schafhausen can refer to an impressive career working for famous art institutions all over Europe. He was the controversial commissioner for the German pavilions at the 52nd and 53rd Venice Biennale. Shortly before he came to Vienna, he was the director of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. Following the resignation of art dandy Gerald Matt, Schafhausen is now working on a new start for this Viennese art institution, which has the most young visitors in town.


A completely new corporate design illustrates the new vigor, which probably doesn’t appeal to everybody. It’s (or should be) an ironic association with the city’s history of the Wiener Werkstätte and the eagle from the federal capital’s coat of arms.

Visit the website kunsthalle.at to get a picture of the new design!

WWTBD – What Would Thomas Bernhard Do? As a prelude to its repositioning, from 17th to 26th of May the Kunsthalle Wien organizes a ten-day festival dedicated to key issues of today’s society. There will be about 100 events like talks, discussions, lectures, films, performances, concerts, parties – every day from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Click here for further information about the idea and the program.

Nicolaus Schafhausen, born 1965 in Düsseldorf (Germany), studied art history in Berlin and Munich. Before he became a curator he worked as an artist and gallerist.
From 1995 to 1998, he was the artistic director of the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart.
From 1999 to 2005, director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein.
From 2006 to 2011, director of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam.
In 2009, commissioner for the German pavilion at the 52nd and 53rd Biennale in Venice.
He was the curator of the 1st Biennale in Brussels, the “Dutch House” at the Expo 2010 in Shanghai, and also for other famous art institutions like the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Lenbachhaus in Munich, and the National Museum for Architecture, Art and Design in Oslo.
In 2011 and 2012 he worked for the Canadian Shorefront Foundation.

In 2014 he will organize the 6th International Biennale for Contemporary Art in Bucharest.

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