Biographical information
Since January 2006, Nicolaus Schafhausen has been Director of the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In June 2005, he was appointed Founding Director of the European Kunsthalle in Cologne for two years. This project explores models for a potential contemporary art institution in Cologne. He is Commissioner of the German Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007.

Nicolaus Schafhausen was born in 1965 in Düsseldorf, studied art history at the Berlin Technical University and at Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University. Schafhausen initially wanted to become an artist and then, while holding a scholarship at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin in 1991, resolved, along with artist Markus Schneider to found the Lukas & Hoffmann gallery. He managed the gallery until 1994 – it was initially based in Berlin and then in Cologne. During those three years, he realized, among others things, the first exhibitions of artists who are now so internationally successful, namely Kai Althoff, Olafur Eliasson, Carsten Höller and Antje Majewski. During this period he started working freelance as a curator. From 1995 to 1998, he was Artistic Director of Künstlerhaus Stuttgart. In the form of the “conversion room,” he launched a model for communicating art that was to set the tone in similar institutions in the 1990s. The symposium on “Art and Art Communication in Central and Eastern Europe,” conceived by him in 1997 in Stuttgart and organized jointly with Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) set standards in the critical discussions of art in those regions. On behalf of the Weimar State Art Collections, together with Klaus Biesenbach in 1996 he curated the show “after Weimar,” the first institutional international group show of contemporary art in East Germany after German reunification. In 1996, he was adviser to documenta X.

In 1999, Schafhausen was appointed Director of Frankfurter Kunstverein, and he remained its artistic and commercial director until December 2005. Under his management, Frankfurter Kunstverein was repositioned nationally and internationally. The programmatic highlights of the period were the thematic exhibitions he launched on current social issues, namely on topics such as the “local” (“To the people of the city of the Euro”), on migration (“You have to really learn a lot to function here”) and the trilogy on the almost unfathomable phenomenon of globalization (“Neue Welt”, “New Heimat”, “Non-Places”). Shows such as the panorama exhibition “deutschemalereizweitausenddrei” served mass tastes. The exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Theodor W. Adorno “Adorno. The Possibility of the Impossible” is evident of Schafhausen’s desire to trigger discussion.

Nicolaus Schafhausen is a member of various private and public juries and advisory boards. Since 2002 he is 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 Departements (1999 to 2005) and consultant for the Lufthansa Aviation Center along with Max Hollein (2004 to 2007). Since 2006 he has been a member of a number of periodic international art awards, latest once include Prix de la Jeune Peinture jury in Brussels and the Hermes Korea Missulsang Award in Seoul, Korea. In 2003, Schafhausen was awarded the Hesse State Prize for Culture.
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