Science meets... AGE ART

AGE ART is a Arts and Science series at Max Planck Institute of Biology of Ageing. It is a unique collaboration featuring innovative artists and scientists in one setting comprising of musical performances, art exhibitions, theater and films in combination with scientific talks.

Next AGE ART: May 24th 2019

Ageing is in Our DNA: The Finite Thread of Life

AGE ART presents an interesting look at the systems of replication both in art and in science. Dr. Schumacher will explore the DNA, a self-replicating material present in all living organisms and aging in an opening lecture to Sol LeWitt’s own self-replicating art. The 7 meter long wall drawing #797 of Sol LeWitt will be on display at the MPI AGE Foyer. Come and join us for the opening.

How to reserve

As places are limited we ask for reservations. Click on this link and go the button "Apply for participation". Enter your full name and email address. You will get a confirmation email once we approved your registration. Please bring your ticket with you on the evening in printed or digital form.

Prof. Björn Schumacher is head of the Institute for Genome Stability in Ageing and Disease at the CECAD Excellence Cluster for Ageing Research at the University of Cologne since 2013. He has been President of the German Association for Ageing Research (DGfA) since 2014.

His research interests focuses on elucidating the causes of ageing and in particular, the role of damage to our genetic material, the DNA, in the ageing process and in the onset of diseases. This basic biological research is of central importance in meeting the challenges of an ageing society.

Dr. Rita Kersting is the deputy director of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. From 2012 to 2016 she served as the curator for Contemporary Art at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. She is responsible for numerous acquisitions, exhibitions, publications on international artists.  

In her lecture, she will examine the wall drawings by Sol LeWitt and particular, his work #797. LeWitt (1928-2007), a pioneer of conceptual art, has pointed out that “A work of art may be understood as a conductor from the artist’s mind to the viewer’s. But it may never reach the viewer, or it may never leave the artist’s mind.

"Wall Drawing #797 at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing is yet another powerful and refined work by LeWitt, a piece with layers of irregular lines created with three primary colors both in its specificity and element of improvisation executed with set of instructions," says Kersting.

Entrance is free. As space is limited please register via our online registration form.


7-7.20 pm

Introduction & Talk by Dr. Rita Kersting "Sol LeWitt - Die Wandzeichnung #797 in Köln" (In German)

7.20 - 8.00 pm

Talk by Prof. Dr. Björn Schumacher "Altern ist in unserer DNA: Der endliche Faden des Lebens” (In German)

8.00 - 8.15 pmQuestions and Answers
from 8.15 pmArtwork Unveiling and Reception


Benjamin Bohnsack

Benjamin Bohnsack is a visual artist holding a degree from Kunstakademie Dusseldorf since 2007. He currently works in drawing and painting and lives in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Jorge Boucas

With a diploma in Biochemistry from the University of Lisbon, Jorge Bouças moved to the University of Cologne where he completed his PhD in 2008. During his postdoctoral work he moved to the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine in Berlin returning later to Cologne where he is now the Head of Bioinformatics at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing.

Birgit Gerisch

Birgit Gerisch is a scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing. She works in the Department of Molecular Genetics of Ageing, studying the ageing process of the nematode C. elegans. She has been engaged in artistic activities throughout the years along science.

Thomas Neumann

Thomas Neumann, born 1975, studied at Academy of Fine Arts Düsseldorf at Department of Photography, graduated with Meisterschüler at 2004, since then working as artist with photography, installations, video. Solo- and Group exhibitions in Germany and internationally. Published books and editions.

We would like to thank Sofia LeWitt from the Estate of Sol LeWitt and Thomas Rieger from the Konrad Fischer Gallery without whom this event would not have been possible.

Save the Date

The next AGE ART event will take place on September 27th 2019.

Age Art - Summary

Science meets Classic Music

AGE ART: September 14th 2018

**Image gallery below**

Artists have long been inspired by the Sciences and vice versa. In marking the 10-year anniversary of the MPI AGE, the AGE ART event past Friday evening illustrated just that. When the two cultures of the Arts and Sciences converge, a wonderful result can emerge.

The evening began seamlessly with Handel’s harp concerto performed by the harpist from the Gürzenich Orchestra, Antonia Schreiber. Handel was a German native who later became a British citizen and composed during the Baroque period, about the same time as JS Bach though their music developed differently. The piece Ms. Schreiber performed is one of his most important concertos in the repertoire. The audience was mesmerized by the magical sound of the harp that packed the hall normally reserved for lectures.

As the title suggests, “Fasting: awakening the rejuvenation from within”, we knew we were just getting in to another intriguing segment of the event. Dr. Valter Longo is an award-winning researcher who has devoted his life to studying and understanding the fundamental mechanisms of aging, disease and longevity. He certainly did not disappoint. You could hear a pin drop as the audience members listened seemingly captivated by Dr. Longo's eloquent delivery of his work.

Dr. Longo began with the question "How many more years would you live if for instance, cancer were to be eliminated?" Surprisingly only 4-5 years more. He then touched up on the core theme of his talk, intermittent fasting and healthy aging.  The lecture addressed to the general public, was at times entertaining as he spoke of the life styles of famous centenarians and at times intriguing packed with interesting science.

The Q&A provided a flawless entry to the next act, a piece by the French composer Claude Debussy for flute solo Syrinx. Performed by this time, the flutist from the Gürzenich Orchestra Alja Velkaverh, the hall filled again with music. The hunting and rapturing resonance of the instrument felt raw as the melismatic vibration echoed brilliantly until the very last note vanished in to thin air.

What better way to follow up the mystic piece Syrinx then with a piece by the Indian composer Ravi Shankar. Often referred to as godfather of world music, Shankar has composed number of pieces for western instrumentation one of which is L'Aube Enchantee. Velkaverh has noted that Shankar lived to be 92 years of age and his secret, a vegetarian diet and “fooling” around, lots of it. The hypnotic rhythm juxtaposed with serene melody certainly felt as if it were intended to reduce blood levels of stress hormones.  

The two pieces followed, a trio by Debussy and Ibert’s Entr’acte to cap the evening, both exquisitely delivered by the trio. Certainly there was no fasting here. The encore piece Carmen’s euphonious melody not only filled our hearts and minds but certainly to have added a few years to our lives. The packed hall of about 200 enthusiastic audience members applauded until the curtain drew.

An extraordinary event all-round and a transformational end to the AGE ART 2018 program into the next AGE ART event in April 2019.  Please stay tuned!

Age Art: June 7th 2018

Das Rezept für ein langes, gesundes Leben: Neugierde, Tatendrang und Kreativität

Man nehme bahnbrechende Wissenschaft und großartige Kunst, vereine es zu einem Event und schon entsteht ein gelungener und ungewöhnlicher Abend, der informiert, berührt, anregt und neue Perspektiven öffnet.

Unter dem Motto „Malerei als Lebenselixier“ fand am 7. Juni 2018 die dritte AGE ART Veranstaltung des Max-Planck-Instituts für Biologie des Alterns in Kooperation mit dem Museum Ludwig in Köln statt. Die Veranstaltung begann mit einleitenden Worten des Max-Planck Direktors Adam Antebi und einer aufschlußreichen Eröffnungsrede von Dr. Stephan Diederich, Kurator für Moderne Kunst aus dem Museum Ludwig, in der er das Publikum in das kreativen Wirken von Bernard Schultze und seiner Zeitgenossen einführte. Höhepunkt des Abends war der Vortrag von Prof. Dr. h.c. Christian Haass vom Deutschen Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen, in dem er Erkenntnisse der Alzheimer-Forschung mit seiner Sammelleidenschaft von Kunst in folgerichtiger Weise verknüpfte.

Herr Haass, der sich seit 30 Jahren der Alzheimerforschung widmet, stellte die Fortschritte aus der Wissenschaft allgemeinverständlich dar und illustrierte seine Erläuterungen dieser schwerwiegenden Krankheit durch Malereien erkrankter Künstler, um einen visuellen und unmittelbaren Einblick in die Wahrnehmung alzheimererkrankter Menschen zu erlauben.
In Ergänzung dazu nahm er aber auch Bezug auf die von Dr. Diederich speziell für diesen Abend sorgsam zusammengestellte Ausstellung mit Kunstwerken von Hans Hartung, Karl Otto Götz und Bernard Schultze, die zu den führenden Vertretern ausdrucksbetonter Abstraktion in Europa gehören, und denen es gelungen ist ihre berufliche Leidenschaft bis ins hohe Alter fortzuführen, und daraus Energie, Glück und Lebensfreude für den Lebensabend zu gewinnen.

Aufgrund seiner Sammelfreude für Kunst und seiner beruflichen Leidenschaft zur Erforschung neurodegenerativer Krankheiten gelang es Prof. Haass auf authentische, persönliche und mitreißende Art und Weise das Publikum sowohl für die ausgestellte Kunst des Abends als auch die Alternsforschung zu begeistern. Darüber hinaus gelang es ihm die Botschaft zu übermitteln, dass trotz bahnbrechender Fortschritte in der Forschung, Neugierde, Tatendrang und Kreativität essenzielle Bestandteile für ein langes, gesundes und glückliches Leben sind.

Science meets jazz

AGE ART | November 24, 2017 | 19:00 - 21:00

**Image gallery below**

What a night! On Friday, the members of the WDR Big Band brought the house down with their outstanding performances of classic and contemporary jazz at the annual AGE ART series.

The concert entitled “Jazz@100” explored the ideas of time passing, wonder and challenges of a long artistic life and aging through music. The jazz legends, Gillespie, Fitzgerald and Monk, all born in 1917, did not make it to their 100th birthday through their presence was definitely felt in the auditorium.

The program started with a piece entitled “Tin Tin Deo” by Gil Fuller and Chano Pozo as played by Dizzy Gillespie, followed by Irving Berlin‘s “Blue Skies” together with “In Walked Bud” by Thelonious Sphere Monk.

To provide full appreciation for these jazz legends, John Goldsby then gave us a short slide presentation of the artists in their productive years, youth on through maturity. Though their lives were often cut short by unfortunate circumstances, we learnt that they were quite productive, even until the very end.

After the presentation, more classics followed. With snippets of jazz masterpieces, each soloist perfectly captured the music’s emotion. The ensemble warmed up the audience with a piece by Dizzy Gillespie “I Waited For You” and “Evidence” by Monk.

In the next segment, Dr. Dario Valenzano from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing delivered a fascinating lecture on evolutionary models of ageing, including the study of model organism established as a model system for ageing by Dr. Valenzano, the African turquoise kilifish.  ”Wild ageing: novel insights from a short-lived African fish” covered a range of topics including a look at our fascination with youth throughout the ages, use of model organisms in aging research, demographics of aging population around the world and novel discoveries involving the turquoise killifish. The talk certainly captured the imagination of what is possible in the future of aging research and the extension of healthy lifespan.

For the final part of the program Barnett and Goldsby composed a piece entitled “The Killifish Suite” especially for this event. 

To fully appreciate this composition, one needed not only a well-tuned jazz “ear”, but also a vivid imagination. Mr. Goldsby provided an illustration of the actual composition with explanations of the musical structure reflecting the 4 stages of lifespan, hinting at what to listen for. The illustration created by Julia Goldsby added a layer of humor and connotations to the presentation.

The piece started with a delicate African beat delivered by the drummer Dekker and then followed the trombone solo with its soft and mystical muted waft indicating the beginning of life.
Throughout the entire piece, the listener almost feels as if they are traveling through time, through life’s stages, from birth to the end of life, an entire landscape of transitory state.

A highlight of the piece was the mini-duet between the bass and the trombone. Goldsby/Barnett also made creative use of the trombones and the double bass with each instrument playing over the other but still somehow playing as one. It was very exciting to see musical creation at play.

The audience of close to 200 tapped their feet to the rhythm until the very end when the pianist Forian Ross chimed the last beat of a ticking clock.

Our next event held May 4th, 2018, is an art exhibition and a talk by Dr. Christian Haass on neurodegeneration. It is definitely worth checking out.

(Helen Antebi)

Age Art: April 7th 2017

We are proud to announce the successful outcome of our very first AGE ART series event. The public lecture and concert took place Friday April 7th at 7pm and drew more than 180 people to our institute’s auditorium. The audience members were made up of students and faculty from the local scientific community, artists, musicians, politicians and interested public.  I would like to thank Linda Partridge for her introductory remarks as well as all those who took part in making this event a huge success.

The event began with a piece by Louis Spohr, Variations sur l'air "Je suis encore dans mon printemps“, performed by a talented young harpist Jie Zhou. The harp is known to calm the nervous system and stimulate the immune system. This as the bridging element to the next segment, our guest speaker Maria Leptin delivered an engaging and humorous presentation on aging and aging research. The transition from science to music played out well.

The second part of the event included three German songs sung by a young baritone, Joel Urch and accompanied by harpist, Zhou. The acoustics couldn’t have been more accommodating to the warm sound of the baritone and harp vibrating through the tranquil space.

The highlight of the event was the pre-premiere of a lyrical theater piece written by Camille van Lunen, "Über das Hören" an Allegory for Baritone, Harp, and Actor based on Hans Schneiderhans' text "On Listening".

Snippets of Mozart, Goethe and aleatoric vocal lines were beautifully intertwined into a perfect evening of science and music.

If you wish to receive notifications about this and other future public events of our institute, please contact us via presse(at) and we will add your email adress to our event newsletter.

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