28 Sep 2009, Posted by Eric Karstens in Off topic: Art, etc., 0 Comments

The new Brandhorst art museum in Munich

Brandhorst Colors
Creative Commons License photo credit: zeze57

The Brandhorst Museum, opened on 21. May 2009, is the most recent addition to Munich’s Kunstareal, the city’s art quarter that was beforehand constituted by the three Pinakotheken. One gallery houses classical paintings dating from before 1800, another one 19th and early 20th century art, and yet another building displays art and design from the 20th century until now. Not only the art, but the three museums themselves, too, date from different periods and have pretty different architectural styles (to put it mildly). Hence it comes neither as a surprise nor is it off-putting that the Brandhorst Museum appears as yet another self-assured solitaire within the disparate ensemble.

However, it comes across strange that it effectively denies any communication with the three existing galleries. Rather than opening its lobby towards the Pinakothek of modern art right next to it, the building literally turns away from it. It is accessible from a street on the opposite side, and the only visual connection it allows is a second floor window from a lounge room which is not even used as a gallery. This constitutes a stark and somewhat sad contrast to the other three museums, which succeed in establishing some correspondence between each other, despite their very contrasting designs.

From the outside, the Brandhorst Museum is fetching. Its four facades with scarce openings are coated with an open grid of strong-coloured bars of glazed ceramic, thus making for a gem-like, sculptural and monolithic appearance, like a three-dimensional Gerhard Richter painting.

The inside cannot quite keep up with this promise. The three floors of gallery rooms have a soft and even light, but that is already the best that can be said about them. The proportions feel off, and some spaces give the impression of being stopgaps – leftover room fragments merely joining up the “real” rooms. The same holds even true for the much-celebrated upstairs Cy Twombly hall, specifically designed to host the artist’s Lepanto cycle of paintings (2001) – see picture below. The rectangular space with two rounded corners appears somewhat makeshift, as if built in an afterthought.

The selection currently on display is very heavy on Pop Art and its successors, with an abundance of works by Andy Warhol and rounded out by Jeff Koons, Alex Katz, Eric Fischl, and Damien Hirst. Other artists present include Joseph Beuys, Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke, Mario Merz, and Jannis Kounellis. The dominating factor besides Warhol is Cy Twombly, with whom the collector seems almost obsessed; the entire first floor is devoted to this artist.

As far as video art is concerned, there are currently a mere two works on display: one Damien Hirst installation (Looking Forward to a Complete Suppression of Pain, 1994), a compartmentalised glass cube with iron support beams and four TV sets showing commercials for pain medication, and a five-channel HD projection by Isaac Julien. Julien’s labyrinthic and enigmatic video takes on the theme of immigration to Europe from Africa. It combines choreographed scenes in a flamboyant palace and on chalk cliffs of Sardinia with images of fishing boats and a ship scrap yard.

Morning visit at Brandhorst Museum, DLD'10
Creative Commons License photo credit: rsepulveda