Better known for brewing, business and Bayern Munich – the Bavarian capital proved, to me at least, an unexpectedly exciting cultural destination. Travelling with Modern Art Oxford supporters over a long weekend, the research trip was a revealing immersion into the city’s extraordinary collections and exhibitions, both public and private.
Perhaps most striking from an architectural perspective is the Lenbachhaus, where Foster + Partners has spectacularly juxtaposed the historic Tuscan-style villa with a golden and glinting wing. Inside, an unsurpassed collection of Blue Rider abstract expressionism from Kandinsky, Klee, Macke and Marc is just the tip of the iceberg of the Lenbachhaus’ vast and compelling treasury of world-class art where our group was lucky to receive a private tour from Lenbachhaus director, Dr Matthias Mühling.
Not far from the Lenbachhaus, at the contemporary art museum Haus Der Kunst, I was drawn to a powerful global photography exhibit incorporating Karl Blossfeldt’s exquisitely detailed prints of seedheads in sculptural formations, as well as Bernd and Hilla Becher’s depictions of abandoned industrial infrastructure and Luo Yongjin’s visions of a rapidly urbanising China.
Next to the Pinakothek der Moderne (four museums in one, spanning art, design, architecture, prints and drawings) sits Sauerbruch Hutton’s colourful ceramic façade of the Museum Brandhorst. Enclosing a once-private collection of more than 700 artworks, it is crowned, in my opinion, by Cy Twombly’s Untitled [Roses] series, a monumental series of six paintings completed towards the end of his life in 2008. I have a particular interest in this subject, so was drawn to the beauty and accessibility of the show. The impressive Brandhorst endowment allows the collection to grow annually – continually expanding an extraordinary legacy for the benefit of the public.
As well as public galleries, we visited several personal collections in private homes. This was, of course, a huge privilege – not only as a window into diverse approaches to collecting art and design but also as an exploration of how artworks and architecture can chime together, adding to the sum of their parts. Curating and exhibiting important pieces in a home is an art in itself, and one I spend a great deal of time considering on behalf of our clients. Making space for art is frequently part of our brief, and I always hugely enjoy working with our clients’ collections or seeking out new works on their behalf.
Emerging from behind closed doors, we then travelled an hour beyond Munich to the beautiful landscape of Polling in Upper Bavaria. Here, we visited the extraordinary Stoa 169 – an eclectic array of over 100 columns, each designed by a different international artist. Founded by artist Bernd Zimmer, this truly inspirational and democratic project channels notions of pilgrimage, refuge and making space for meditation. I found it very moving.
Our purpose in Munich was not only to explore the region’s art collections and cultural spaces but to build relationships with curators, collectors and galleries. Supporters enjoy many opportunities to engage with the gallery’s artistic programme over the course of the year, including previews, exclusive access to international art fairs, artist studios and private collections as well as unforgettable art tours such as this one.
The community of friends and supporters affiliated to Modern Art Oxford is really vibrant and exciting. Trips like this one to Munich, allow us to meet people on a very personal level as well as dipping into the city’s extraordinary historic architecture and the outdoor lifestyle of the city. As a final stopping point, the one museum I’ve not mentioned is the Alte Pinakothek, such an important world collection and well worth adding to any Munich itinerary.