Munich's art landscape is extremely varied. Those who wish to discover it completely need several months. For all having much less time, we have summarized the highlights in different tours: classic, modern – or maybe entirely individual?
The essentials in brief
Warhol, but not as you know him: “Mustard Race Riot” at Museum Brandhorst (gallery) is a political piece of art – and now more poignant than ever before: It is an emblazoned image of police brutality against the black community in America. Another famous classic piece follows in the Alte Pinakothek (gallery): Albrecht Dürer kept his “Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight Years Old Wearing a Coat with Fur Collar” under lock and key in his atelier all his life. His portrait is reminiscent of images of Jesus Christ – Dürer wanted to avoid accusations of blasphemy.
Pieter Bruegel’s “The Land of Cockaigne” uses humour to wryly show that sometimes it is better if humans’ dreams don’t come true. Next up we have some really ancient art in the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (museum) across the square: The block statue of Bakenkhonsu is one of the highlights of the collection.
The tour of highlights ends at Lenbachhaus (gallery), where countless Expressionist pieces are on display. As well as Alexej von Jawlensky’s picture of the dancer Alexander Sakharoff, which the artist painted on a piece of card in less than one hour, Franz Marc’s iconographic “Blue Horse I” in particular is worth a longer look.
Duration: three hours
Ludwig I laid the foundations for Munich’s status as one of Europe’s art capitals
This route is a real treat for conservative art enthusiasts. This stately tour starts in the Stadtmuseum (museum). Here a group of artistically carved Morris dancers take to the floor – springtime Moorish dances were a popular form of entertainment in Medieval Munich. In the large meeting hall at the Rathaus (Town Hall), Carl von Piloty’s “Allegorie Monachia” treats guests to a monumental painting showing a collection of the city’s key figures (the gallery’s balcony is still accessible during meetings!). Try not to get overwhelmed ... It’s over 70 square metres in size!
Villa Stuck is real treasure trove that is definitely worth a detour, primarily due to its imposing neoclassical interior design. The tour continues with the Sammlung Schack (gallery), which houses the “Hirtenknabe” (Shepherd Boy), a dreamy yet highly detailed picture by the master painter Franz von Lenbach. Also worth seeing: Arnold Böcklin’s poetically bleak “Villa by the Sea”. At the Alte Pinakothek museum, high points include the intricately detailed “The Battle of Alexander at Issus” by Albrecht Altdorfer in the Medieval style of miniature painting, and the magnificent painting of “Madame de Pompadour” by François Boucher.
At the Staatliche Antikensammlungen (mueseum), visitors will delight in seeing an Ancient Greek vessel by the painter Exekias, complete with a galley and dolphins. From here, the route takes you to Schloss Nymphenburg (palace): The most famous name among the 36 women on display in the Gallery of Beauties is without a doubt Lola Montez, the young lover of art enthusiast King Ludwig I.
The tour ends at the 18.5-metre-tall Bavaria statue, a personification of the State of Bavaria. An extra treat for the end of the tour: This is a piece of artwork that you can climb.
Duration: One day
Cy Twombly, Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz – the most important collections
The contemporary art tour begins at the Haus der Kunst (gallery), which is used exclusively as a venue for temporary exhibitions. It hosts a never-ending cycle of art superstars, such as Ed Ruscha and Louise Bourgeois. If this isn’t what you’re looking for, simply go round to the back of the building and check out the bamboo rod left over from Ai Weiwei’s phenomenal exhibition in 2009. The tour continues at the Pinakothek der Moderne (gallery), where “Drummer” by Georg Baselitz hangs above guests’ heads – this painting represents the conflict within Germany prior to the country’s reunification.
The next stop is the Museum Brandhorst: As well as Sigmar Polke’s confusing “The Three Lies of Painting”, you will also find Gerhard Richter’s “Family After Old Master” – a picture of a photo of a painting. You’ll almost always be able to spot an Andy Warhol; in actual fact, the museum owns one of the largest Warhol collections in Europe. An entire room has been set aside for the colourful Lepanto series by Cy Twombly, which can also be interpreted as a reference to the old Venetian painters, who often immortalised the naval battle of 1571 in their paintings.
The tour in Maxvorstadt comes to an end with Joseph Beuys with “Show Your Wound”, which deals with the artist’s vulnerability at Lenbachhaus. If you want to take a look at urban and contemporary art, go to the MUCA in the heart of the old town. The permanent collection includes works by the most important representatives of contemporary art such as Banksy or Shepard Fairey.
Duration: three hours
Where do you have to go to get involved in the buzz?
Hiring a car may be a good idea for gallery hopping. An interesting tip: The best galleries for contemporary art are all in close proximity to the Isar River – we will work our way from north to south. Our starting point is Galerie Deborah Schamoni at Mauerkircherstrasse 186. It’s just a stone’s throw from here to Sammlung Goetz (Goetz Collection), which is home to one of Germany’s most important collections of contemporary art, and also on the route.
The route continues to the grand neighbourhood of Lehel on the other side of the Isar, where Christine Mayer showcases work by well-known artists like Dan Graham and Heimo Zobernig and young up-and-coming members of Munich’s art scene at her gallery at Liebigstrasse 39. From there it’s not far to Galerie Jahn und Jahn, a father and son gallery whose programme not only includes big names from the post-war generation like Baselitz and Lüpertz, but also lots of younger names (Baaderstrasse 56 B).
We then cross the Isar again into the Au district, home to Galerie Sperling (Regerplatz 9) – another must-see on the gallery tour. Worth a detour: Lothringer 13, an art gallery run by the City of Munich for international contemporary art, hosting temporary exhibitions for groups of contemporary artists. Heading back towards the city centre, the tour ends with a visit to Nir Altman Galerie (Ringseisstrasse 4, rear building), which showcases a wide array of video art.
Duration: four to five hours