The Kunstverein Reutlingen is a place for contemporary art practice and discourse. It aims to present and disseminate contemporary visual art by reaching out to a wide audience and encouraging active participation in cultural processes. With approximately 1,000 sqm of exhibition spaces, it provides a unique platform for critical social discourse and new artistic tendencies. The Kunstverein Reutlingen is a member of the ADVK Working Group of German Art Associations.
Its characteristic brick building formerly housed the metal cloth and machine factory Christian Wandel, founded in 1869. Today, the Wandel-Hallen are both a reminder of the city’s industrial history and a place for contemporary creation. The Kunstverein Reutlingen is situated on the first floor and shares the building with the Kunstmuseum Reutlingen I konkret and the Kunstmuseum Reutlingen I Galerie as well as with the Foundation for Concrete Art.
The Hans Thoma Society was founded in 1953. In 1999, the name Kunstverein Reutlingen was added, which has been in exclusive use since the institution relocated from the town hall to the Wandel-Hallen in 2006. From 1953 to 1978, Alfred Hagenlocher (1914–1998) served as President of the Hans Thoma Society. During his tenure, he conceived numerous exhibitions with a focus on regional artists and those whose art had been labelled as “degenerate” in the Nazi years. But Hagenlocher had himself been a member of the NSDAP and the SS from the age of 17, and a member of the Gestapo from 1937 onwards. In his function as head of the Administrative Area IV 2 b at the so-called “Hotel Silber”, the Gestapo headquarters in Stuttgart, as well as in previous positions, Hagenlocher had ordered operations that convinced the postwar denazification tribunal to classify him as a major offender. After multiple appeals, the legal proceedings were eventually stayed in January 1951. Numerous files that can be accessed at the Haus der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg and at Hotel Silber in Stuttgart, in the State Archives in Ludwigsburg and in the Federal Archives in Koblenz evidence his complicity with the National Socialist regime.
The Kunstverein Reutlingen unequivocally distances itself from all forms of National Socialist ideology and discrimination of any kind, and supports the call for institutions to conduct critical reviews of their past in dialogue with historians.