Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pinakothek der Moderne

Marin Disler: Untitled, 1990I went to Munich for a weekend and it was absolutely lovely- lots of Bavarian architecture and clothing, rolling hills and grand streets. Though I didn't have long, I was able to devote a Saturday morning to two of their main museums: Neue Pinakothek, which houses works from the 17th and 18th century, and the Pinakothek der Moderne, for the 1900's to present. I have to say I was much more impressed with the latter.

Its building is lovely, with a lobby reminiscent of the Guggenheim but without the tiring uphill layout. Their collection covers many areas, from famed Modern and Contemporary painters to furniture design, from jewelry to architecture draftsmanship. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to see it all, and spent most of my visit in the Modern and Contemporary art section, waltzing quickly past the Ikea and Klaus Kinold exhibits after a brief look at the Zoe Leonard photo show (which I enjoyed, but don't have much to say about).

First off was some superb Expressionism with several works from Kirchner, Schmitt-Rotluff, and the like. And maybe you'll remember: I really dig German Expressionism.

Ludwig Kirchner: Portrait of Dodo, 1909
Erich Heckel: Reclining Girl, 1909Karl Schmitt-Rotluff: Woman and Landscape, 1920I've noticed in the few museums I've so far visited in Germany, that there is a definite focus on showcasing German and Austrian artists. It's kind of cool. I'm accustomed to American museums, which usually don't lean toward a specific country representation unless it is significantly part of the museum's mission (ie the Whitney as a center for twentieth century American artists, etc). This way I am able to see a lot of German artists I hadn't heard of before, who perhaps hadn't become as successful outside of their native country, as well as a wider selection from German artists I already knew about. Which all adds up to: Learning!

Carl Lohse: Reading Aloud, 1920Max Beckmann had his own gallery, which I adored. Included were several self-portraits, a piece (Woman with Mandolin) I've seen in the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard (though maybe it was just on loan?), and a triptych (in case you haven't seen enough already).

Max Beckmann: Self-Portrait with Grey NightgownMax Beckmann: Woman with Mandolin in Yellow and Red, 1950There was a small collection of Surrealist works. I liked the Max Ernst pieces- he's an artist I know about, and whose importance I understand, yet I have only seen a small portion of his pieces.

Max Ernst: The Bird People, 1919-20Max Ernst: The House Angel, 1937Salvador Dali: The Apotheosis of Homer, 1945Rene Magritte: The Exercises of the AcrobatGeorge Baselitz had a small exhibition in one room. Large-scale, textured paintings combining abstract brush strokes with representative figures, all of them vaguely menacing. I will keep an eye out for more of his work.

George Baselitz: Paul's Dog (remix), 2008George Baselitz: The Great Night in the Pail From That Time, 2008 (not sure about that translation, sorry)One room was filled with Sigmar Polke's series 8 Loop Images, so I was a happy camper. Gorgeous abstract images combining delicate calligraphy-like scribbles and sandy backgrounds. A wonderful exploration of layering and texture. I am constantly impressed with how varied and extensive Polke's talents are. He can never be pigeonholed into one medium, technique, or movement. Awesome.

Sigmar Polke: Eight Loop Images, 1986Lots of Joseph Beuys objects, as well as the chilling room-size installation The End of the 20th Century, composed of large, scattered basalt structures resembling ruins. It's hard to describe without being there, but it had this unearthly calm and quiet that I found very affecting. I really dig Beuys for his weirdness and boundless imagination. I would have loved to see one of his performances. Also check out this cute Warhol portrait. He looks so befuddled.

Andy Warhol: Portrait of Joseph Beuys
Joseph Beuys: The End of the 20th Century, 1983
Joseph Beuys: Earth Telephone, 1968Discovered contemporary German artist Norbert Tadeusz in one gallery. Interesting works: mostly ambiguous nudes in dimly-lit rooms, with off-kilter compositions and angles. I loved some, while others didn't move me much. His attention to shadow gives an eerie, compelling mood to his paintings, but sometimes I was thrown off by his color choices.

Norbert Tadeusz: Pantyhose, 1972
Norbert Tadeusz: Studio 2, 2002Small room dedicated to Jochen Klein, another new German artist to me. I really, really enjoyed his paintings. They are small, figural scenes in abstract nature settings. The figures are detailed and emotional, surrounded by incredibly soft, blurred brushstrokes. Everything is so light and subtle, and just really beautiful, but with a slight uncanny air. Unfortunately Klein, who was diagnosed with AIDS, passed away in 1997 at only 30 years of age.

Jochen Klein: Untitled, 1996Jochen Klein: Untitled, 1996Jochen Klein: Untitled, 1996 (detail)
Jochen Klein: Untitled, 1996Light art, yay! No Turrell, though, which is always too bad. Nothing wrong with Flaving, I just like Turrell better. I find his works much more emotional.

Dan FlavinDan Flavin: Untitled (To You, Heiner, with Admiration and Affection), 1973I really enjoyed the Pinakothek der Moderne, and I only saw 1/4 of its contents! It's well-organized, beautifully designed, and features an impressive collection of modern and contemporary artists. Highly recommended to anyone visiting Munich.

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