Matthias Wagner K, born in 1961 in Jena and now based in Frankfurt am Main, has been director of the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt am Main since 2012.
Matthias Wagner K came to the presentation and communication of art and culture from a background in the theatre and visual art practice. As a curator he has presented exhibitions on themes such as the cultural history of light and the use of light by visual artists in the 20th and 21st centuries. He is also an acknowledged expert on Nordic art and culture. In 2005 he co-directed (with C. Stahl) the festival Islandbilder – Bildende Kunst, Fotografie, Literatur, Musik & Design aus Island (Images of Iceland – Visual Art, Photography, Literature, Music & Design from Iceland) in Cologne. In 2006 Matthias Wagner K assumed a curatorial post at the Nordic Embassies in Berlin, and in 2009 he was the artistic director of the first Nordic Fashion Biennale in Reykjavik. In 2011, the Republic of Iceland appointed him chief curator of Sagenhaftes Island, an artistic and cultural programme to accompany the country’s appearance as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Since 2002 Wagner K has been the artistic director of Hellweg – ein Lichtweg, a light art project in the Hellweg region of North Rhine-Westphalia, and in 2010 he curated the first Biennale for International Light Art – open light in private spaces, featuring works by Angela Bulloch, Olafur Eliasson, Jenny Holzer, Philippe Parreno, Tobias Rehberger, James Turrell and Haegue Yang, among others. In 2011 he curated the exhibitions Gabriela Fridriksdóttir. Crepusculum at the Schirn Kunsthalle and On the Cutting Edge – Design in Iceland (co-curated by Klaus Klemp) at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, both of which were very well received by critics and the viewing public, and in 2012 he was appointed director of the MAK.
Within a year, Matthias Wagner K had repositioned the Museum Angewandte Kunst with a completely new exhibition concept and participatory model. Rather than considering the objects in the collection purely in terms of their history, the focus is now placed on discussing and negotiating current concerns and untimely observations. The questions that arise from this process are addressed in thematic exhibitions involving changing constellations of objects. The Museum Angewandte Kunst is thereby setting a precedent in the development of progressive museum concepts for the 21st century. It seeks new perspectives, approaches and strategies for dealing with its existing collections and the knowledge that has already been accumulated. As a site of possibility it provides space for reflection, experience and sensuous perception, as well as a platform for public reflexivity and negotiation between conflicting forms, norms and ideas.