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Since 2006, Nicolaus Schafhausen has been artistic and managing director of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He was appointed curator of the German Pavilion at both the 52nd and 53rd Venice Biennial in 2007 and 2009.

Nicolaus Schafhausen, born in 1965 in Düsseldorf, lives in Brussels. Before starting his career as curator in 1990, he worked as an artist. During this time, he studied art history at the Berlin Technical University and at Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians-University. In 1991 he founded - along with artist Markus Schneider - the Lukas & Hoffmann gallery. He managed the gallery until 1994, which was initially based in Berlin and then in Cologne. During those three years, he organized, among others, the first exhibitions of artists who are now internationally successful, for example Kai Althoff, Olafur Eliasson, Carsten Höller and Antje Majewski. From 1995 to 1998, he was artistic director of Künstlerhaus Stuttgart. In the form of the Umbauraum (conversion room), he launched a model for mediating art that was to set the tone in similar institutions in the 1990s. Exhibitions at the Künstlerhaus included Kai Althoff, Cosima von Bonin, Lukas Duwenhögger, Olafur Eliasson, Liam Gillick, Morgan Fisher, Sharon Lockhart and Stephen Prina. In 1999, Schafhausen was appointed director of Frankfurter Kunstverein, and he remained its artistic and managing director until 2005. Under his management, the Frankfurter Kunstverein was repositioned nationally and internationally. The programme highlights of the period were the thematic exhibitions he curated on contemporary social issues, with topics such as the “local” (To the people of the city of the Euro), migration (You have to really learn a lot to function here) and a trilogy on the phenomenon of globalization (Neue Welt, New Heimat, non-places). Shows such as the panorama exhibition deutschemalereizweitausenddrei appealed to a broad audience. The exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Theodor W. Adorno, titled Adorno. The Possibility of the Impossible demonstrated Schafhausen’s desire to trigger discussion. His solo exhibitions included among others: Michael Beutler, Gerard Byrne, Keren Cytter, Simon Debroey Møller, Christian Flamm, Isa Genzken, Liam Gillick, Tue Greenfort, Jonathan Meese, Alex Morrison, Marcel Odenbach, Stephen Prina, Emilio Prini, Jozef Robakowski, Markus Schinwald and Cerith Wyn Evans. In 2005, he was appointed founding director of the European Kunsthalle in Cologne for a period of two years. This project explored models for a potential contemporary art institution in Cologne. Within this framework, he curated the exhibitions Modelle für Morgen (Models for tomorrow) in the city’s public space and Köln Show 2 in selected private galleries.

Since 2006, Schafhausen is director of Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. The renowned Dutch institution is an art center with a focus on theory and discussion. Currently he is preparing solo exhibitions with Edith Dekyndt and Billy Apple as well as the large-scale, thematic group shows Morality and Ethics (for further information see In Rotterdam, his emphasis is on team work and he was able to bring together an international team of curators as well as theorists.

Schafhausen has curated and co-curated various shows outside of his own institutions: 2005 Populism at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Center for Contemporary Art (CAC), Vilnius and the National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo; Bühne des Lebens - Rhetorik des Gefühls, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Kunstbau, Munich (2006). In 2007, he presented Isa Genzken at the German Pavilion of the Venice Biennial with Oil. In 2008 Schafhausen was co-curator at the first Brussels Biennial. In 2010, he will curate the Platform Festival in Seoul, together with Sunjung Kim.

Nicolaus Schafhausen is a member of various private and public juries and advisory boards. Since 2002, he has been a consultant to the DekaBank art collections as well as a Board member of the Ursula Blickle Foundation. He was advisor to the state art collections of the Nord-Pas de Calais, Frac, Dunkirk Departments (1999 to 2005) and consultant for the Lufthansa Aviation Center along with Max Hollein (2004 to 2007). Since 2006, he has been a jury member of a number of periodic international art awards, most recently the Prix de la Jeune Peinture in Brussels and t he Hermes Korea Missulsang Award in Seoul, Korea. In 2007, together with colleagues from North-Rhine Westphalia and the Benelux States, he co-founded the Comité van Roosendaal, a regional network with the objective of art mediation in the region. Since 2008, Schafhausen has been a member of the international advisory committee of the Mondriaan Foundation and a member of the advisory board of Independent Curators International (iCI), New York

In 2003, Schafhausen was awarded the Hesse State Prize for Culture.

© Deutscher Pavillon 2009

Liam Gillick Standbild Video