For over thirty years the Jesuit Friedhelm Mennekes has been involved with exhibitions at the crossroads between art and religion. From an historical standpoint, such juxtaposition seems entirely natural. However, he introduces works of art of our time into old and new churches – a gesture that elicits broad discussion. From one side he is praised and from another blamed, yet he steadfastly goes his way.
Mennekes has been engaged in many discussions with artists through exhibitions and lectures that address this vital relationship of creative expression and experienced religion, such as Donald Baechler, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, James Brown, James Lee Byars, Francis Bacon, Eduardo Chillida, Marlene Dumas, Jenny Holzer, Anish Kapoor, Barbara Kruger, Arnulf Rainer, David Salle, Cindy Sherman, Andreas Slominski, Antoni Tàpies, Rosemarie Trockel, and Bill Viola among others. Mennekes poses systematic questions, adressing individual works and also their vital relationship to the broader world of contemporary culture. He seeks structural correspondences and parallels that adress our experience of a faith and doubts in organized religion as well as the secular worlds.
Friedhelm Mennekes, born 1940 in Bottrop, Westfalia
- 1961 he joints the Jesuits
- After the noviciate he studied Philosophy, Political Science and Theology at the universities in Bonn, München und Frankfurt (M), Lic. phil., Lic. theol., Dr. phil. habil.
- 1980-2008 professor of Pastoral Theology and Sociology of Religion at Phil. -theol Hochschule St. Georgen, Frankfurt (M)
- 1979-1985 pastor and exhibition-director of St. Markus Nied, r.c. parish church and exhibition center, Frankfurt (M)
- 1985-1990 director of the exhibition-center at the railway main station of Frankfurt (M): Kunst-Station Frankfurt Main Hbf
- 1987-2008 director of the Kunst-Station Sankt Peter Cologne. Centre of Contemporary Art and Modern Music
- 2009-11 guestprofessor at the Visual Art Department, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA: Art and Religion. Then and Now.
- 2011 guestprofessor at the Visual Art Department, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA: The Dusseldorf School of Photography
- Since 2011 guestprofessor, Arthistory Institute of the Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelm-University, Bonn, Germany, chair of Prof. Dr. Anne-Marie Bonnet: Contemporary art. Its exhibition and its mediation.
- 1993 honorary professor at the Academy of Fine Arts of the university of Mainz
- 1997 honorary professor at Academy of Fine Arts, Brunswick, Germany
- 1999 he received the Corporate Art Prize of the Burda Foundation, Offenburg, Germany, for his "outstanding achievement in the field of promoting art and culture"
- 2002 the Wilhelm-Hausenstein-Medal of the Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts, Munich, Germany, "for his outstanding achievement in the field of promoting visual arts"
- 2011 he was decorated with the First-Class National Order of the Federal Republic of Germany "for his outstanding intercultural transfer between art and religion"