The Wendel Collection

The Wendel Collection comprises some 3,000 images of Ice Age cave art from around 50 caves in France and Spain.

From 1964 until his death in 1980, the collector Heinrich Wendel was head of set design at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf and one of Germany's most renowned stage designers. The design of spaces through light and projection art was a central part of his artistic work. With this in mind, he made several trips to the Franco-Cantabrian region between 1964 and 1970 with the aim of finding inspiration for his work in prehistoric cave art.

In doing so, he proceeded highly professionally and with scientific meticulousness according to a uniform concept. He also took photographs in the non-public areas of the caves. In the course of time, an extensive photo archive of about 3,000 pictures was created. This photo archive not only documents the state of conservation of cave art from around 50 caves, but it also reveals the perspective of the stage designer: cave art as a means of transforming a given natural space into architecture, into a stage.

More than 20 years after Heinrich Wendel's death, this photo archive was entrusted to Neanderthal Museum for scientific processing and conservation. From 2001-2002, the collection was processed thanks to funding from the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

The digitisation was made possible by the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek as part of the "Neustart Kultur" programme funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM).

Since February 2022, we have made our collections available online in our digital archive.

If you have any questions about this collection, please feel free to contact the following colleague: Saskia Hucklenbruch, MA

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