Munich’s museums invite visitors to encounter the Old Masters and new young things. Almost all genres and epochs are represented. It is amazing what art can do: it brings colour to our lives, amuses us, irritates and rebels, relaxes and is sometimes simply beautiful. Here are some exhibitions that you’ll definitely want to catch:
From Goya to Manet – Masterpieces from the Neue Pinakothek at the Alte Pinakothek, expected again from February 2022
Around 90 paintings and sculptures from the late 18th to the early 20th century will be exhibited under the title “From Goya to Manet”. This temporary relocation of masterpieces from the Neue Pinakothek to the Alte Pinakothek presents a unique opportunity to view the most famous paintings from both museums under one roof.
Silent Rebels. Symbolism in Poland around 1900, Kunsthalle München, 25 March to 7 August, 2022
Polish painting around 1900 transports the beholder to a world of myths and legends, dreamlike landscapes, ancient traditions and customs, and the depths of the human soul. In a nation without sovereignty – until its independence in 1918, Poland was partitioned between Prussia, the Russian and the Austro-Hungarian Empires – a young generation of artists began to breathe new life into the art of painting. With their works, they created a common identity. Drawing inspiration from Polish history, culture, and the natural environment, they also looked outward to the artistic centres of Berlin, Munich, Paris, St. Petersburg, and Vienna.
For the first time in Germany, the Kunsthalle München presents more than 140 important works from public and private collections (the title picture for this article depicts an excerpt from the painting “Polish Hamlet” by Jacek Malczewski) in a comprehensive exhibition devoted to the heyday of Polish art that took place between 1890 and 1918. The exhibition was organised in collaboration with the National Museums in Warsaw, Kraków and Poznań, with support from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
Vive le Pastel! Pastel Painting from Vivien to La Tour, Alte Pinakothek, 6 May to 23 October, 2022
Pastels were extremely popular in the 18th century. Especially in France, numerous of these works were created, whose colours were applied dry, with the help of pencils, but covering the entire surface, and which can therefore be classified neither as painting nor as drawing. Pastels from this period continue to fascinate us today - sometimes because of their closeness to nature and immediacy, sometimes because of the virtuosity of their execution, and always because of their precious fragility.
The Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen possess a collection of outstanding pastels painted between 1700 and the 1750s: Commissioned works by Elector Max Emanuel stand alongside later acquisitions and permanent loans, Joseph Vivien and Maurice Quentin de La Tour are represented as well as Rosalba Carriera and Jean-Étienne Liotard.
Max Beckmann – Departure, Pinakothek der Moderne, 25 November, 2022 to 12 March, 2023
This large-scale monographic exhibition is dedicated in the first instance to the theme of travel, which was of existential importance to Max Beckmann (1884 – 1950). His life was marked by tragic experiences of war and uprooting, transit and exile, but also by glamorous vacations, the urge for freedom and the longing to travel. Around 100 loans from important private and public Beckmann collections in Europe and the USA, such as the first triptych “Departure” from the MoMA, show the enormous range of travel-oriented pictorial motifs and concepts and complement the largest European collection of Beckmann paintings from the Modern Art Collection at the Pinakothek der Moderne art gallery.
Through a donation from Max Beckmann’s family estate to the Max Beckmann Archive of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen (Bavarian State Painting Collections) in 2015, numerous previously unseen materials and documents such as photo albums and films are now presented for the first time, providing a new and updated view of the artist.
Alexandra Bircken: A-Z, Museum Brandhorst, until 16 January, 2022
Alexandra Bircken’s art is based on the principles of separating and connecting our internal and external worlds. The Museum Brandhorst art gallery is currently hosting the most extensive exhibition to date dedicated to the works of this internationally acclaimed German sculptor. How do we approach our immediate environment? Do we seek to shelter from it, or expose ourselves to it without resistance? Are we vulnerable, or armed and unassailable? And what constitutes the human body in a technoid era that seems to render it an archaic vestigial irrelevance?
Under the Open Sky. Travelling with Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter, Lenbachhaus art gallery, until 30 January, 2022
Located in Kunstareal, just a few minutes’ walk from the Pinakothek galleries, the Lenbachhaus is currently hosting the “Under the Open Sky. Travelling with Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter” exhibition, which features works by these two most famous members of the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) art movement. The pair journeyed together for years, travelling light and under the open sky in a passionate search for the perfect means of expression for their painting.
They started exploring the area around Munich by bike from 1902, then set their sights on a number of international travel destinations. Driven in equal parts by artistic curiosity and the fact that travelling enabled them to live freely together in a relationship that society would never accept, the pair visited the Netherlands, Tunisia, the Italian Riviera, Paris and finally South Tyrol.
Fujiko Nakaya, Haus der Kunst, 8 April to 31 July 2022
The ground-breaking artist Fujiko Nakaya (b.1933, Sapporo, Japan) will be celebrated in the first comprehensive survey exhibition outside of Japan. Gaining prominence in the 1960s as a member of the New York-based collective Experiments in Arts and Technology (E.A.T.), she became internationally renowned for her immersive fog artworks, which defied traditional conventions of sculpture by generating temporary, borderless transformations that physically engage with the public and give shape to the surrounding environment.
Driven by early ecological concerns, Nakaya’s work deals with water and air, mediums that have particular resonance in the face of the climate crisis. From the artist’s early paintings to her fog sculptures, single-channel videos, installations and documentation that reveal Nakaya’s cultural and social references, this experiential exhibition at the Haus der Kunst will offer an in-depth survey of one of Japan’s foremost artists.
The women of the Bohemian world. Monacensia at the Hildebrandhaus, from early summer 2022
(Exhibition not yet on the museum website)
The exhibition at the Monacensia (Munich’s literary archive) focuses on Munich’s Bohemian women between 1890 and 1920, examining their importance in the context of literature, culture, politics and society. What topics did the women of the Bohemian world write about? What living concepts and political demands did they introduce to the public sphere? What ideals and convictions did they represent? How did they wish to live? To what extent did they shape Bohemianism as a subculture at the turn of the century?
The exhibition centres on women whose lives and work were largely based in Munich. The specific destinies of individuals such as Franziska zu Reventlow, Margarete Beutler, Frida Stindberg-Uhl, Emmy Hennings and Lotte Pritzel were clearly marked by difficulties and problems, but these women also emerge as courageous protagonists fighting for female self-determination and independence.
Etel Adnan, Lenbachhaus, 25 October, 2022 to 26 February, 2023
Born in Beirut, Etel Adnan (1925 – 2021) is an important representative of modernism. Her artistic and literary work is characterized by a broad and vibrant exchange between the Arab and Western worlds. The work of the poet, journalist, painter and philosopher, who spent her life between Lebanon, France and California, combines very different art forms, media, languages and cultures.
After Algeria's War of Independence (1954 – 1962), Adnan refused to continue working in French and showed solidarity with Algeria: "I didn't need to write in French anymore, I wanted to paint in Arabic." Her political clarity, as well as the close connection between writing and painting, have become essential features of her oeuvre.
Intervention. Intermezzo Murano. Moderne trifft Barock (Intervention. Intermezzo Murano. Modernism meets Baroque), Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, until 24 April, 2022
An exciting collaboration between the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum and the Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum has produced the exhibition “Intervention. Intermezzo Murano. Moderne trifft Barock”. Murano is considered the epitome of Italian glass art – a tradition that goes back as far as the 13th century, when Venice moved its already world-famous glass production industry to the neighbouring island of Murano.
After a turbulent history, Murano glass experienced a new boom in the 20th century, with manufacturers such as Archimede Seguso, Barovier & Toso and Venini producing trailblazing new work. For the first time, the collection of Baroque glass art at the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum will be presented alongside around 30 exquisite Murano pieces from the second half of the 20th century, on loan from the collection of the Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum.
Part 2: Au Rendez-Vous Des Amis. Classical modernism in dialogue with contemporary art from the Goetz collection, Pinakothek der Moderne art gallery, until 16 January, 2022
A collaborative exhibition featuring works from both the Modern Art Collection (Sammlung Moderne Kunst) and the Sammlung Goetz collection is currently open at the Pinakothek der Moderne and promises to take visitors on a very special journey through time as they explore the art of the 20th century. Titled “Au Rendez-Vous Des Amis”, the exhibition creates a dialogue between classical modernist works – such as those of Pablo Picasso, Franz Marc, Emil Nolde, Oscar Schlemmer and Francis Bacon – with pieces by contemporary artists from the Sammlung Goetz collection, thereby offering an insight into the complex ways that contemporary art has been inspired by earlier generations of artists.
Thanks to its enormous popularity with visitors, the original exhibition has been extended to include a second part, into which the curators have incorporated additional juxtapositions to enrich the show. Some of the thematically organised rooms have been completely redesigned and contain works by Carla Accardi, Michael Buthe, Marcel Odenbach, Tom Sachs, Egon Schiele, Cindy Sherman, Tatiana Trouvé and Luc Tuymans among others, which complement the presentation and create additional dialogues between classical modernism and contemporary art.
Celadon in Focus. Jade-like porcelains and their master artisans in Longquan, China, Museum Fünf Kontinente, until 27 March, 2022
China is home to many different types of porcelain, which have been produced by specialised artisans for centuries using local clays and soils. One such variety is shimmering celadon, wrought in many green and blue hues. The province of Zhejiang has been famous for this type of porcelain since at least the 9th century, with the city of Longquan in the southwest of the province notable as an early centre of porcelain art, where complex expertise was passed down within individual families from generation to generation.
Longquan celadon first flourished between the 11th and 14th centuries, when pieces made their way into the emperors’ collections and were exported all over the world. However, by the end of the 19th century the knowledge of how to produce it was increasingly slipping into obscurity. It was only in the 1950s that the craft experienced a revival through the establishment of state factories, and a new generation of young ceramicists sprang up. The exhibition at the Museum Fünf Kontinente offers ethnological insights into the history, technology and expertise of the celadon city of Longquan and presents exquisite pieces by eighteen celadon master artisans.
Lust for Lustheim. Meissen inspires. Modern Ceramics, Schloss Lustheim (a member of the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum group of museums), until 6 June, 2022
The Ernst Schneider Meissen Porcelain Collection Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary at Lustheim Palace in 2021. To mark the occasion, the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum invited the Galerie Handwerk München to participate in a joint project. The result was an exhibition which created a refreshing, exciting and entertaining dialogue between historic Meissen porcelain and contemporary ceramics.
A total of 38 ceramicists from Germany and beyond demonstrate how they relate to Baroque porcelain by means of widely divergent artistic positions. A range of exquisite creative pieces which offer an outstanding overview of the international ceramics scene, from Germany and Belgium to China and South Korea, were selected for the exhibition.
Site Visit, Museum Brandhorst, 8 March to 3 April, 2022
“Site Visit” brings together a group of international artists for a one-month programme which will take place in the Patio – the largest exhibition room at Museum Brandhorst – and will include talks, workshops and a changing roster of installations. Site visits have become an important element of artistic practice because they allow artists to tailor their works to specific exhibition contexts. However, they also offer the opportunity to consider different ways of interacting with institutions.
The bringing together of a diverse group of international artists for the staging of a series of local and international encounters at the Museum Brandhorst art gallery presents a unique opportunity to address some of the most innovative artistic practices of the present time, in a manner that is in equal parts intimate and lively. As part of the programme, the artists will also be able to explain and present their working methods in detail.
Group Dynamics - The Blue Rider, Lenbachhaus, 23 March, 2021 to 5 March, 2023
"The whole body of work we call art knows neither borders nor nations but only humanity": that is how Kandinsky and Marc put it in their almanac The Blue Rider, which came out in 1912. The credo inspired the Lenbachhaus to put together a new presentation that embeds the Blue Rider artists’ works in the sweeping history of art and culture that the almanac illustrates.
For the first time, the exhibition allows visitors to study with their own eyes the interconnections between Bavarian and Russian folk art, Japanese woodcuts, children’s drawings, contemporary music and the works of Balinese, Gabonese, Oceanian, Sri Lankan, Mexican, and Egyptian art reproduced in the almanac. The dialogue between outstanding works and artifacts on loan from other museums and the beloved classics from the Lenbachhaus’s own collection opens up new perspectives on the Blue Rider artists’ high-minded vision.
Hauptsache. Hüte, Hauben, Hip-Hop-Caps (The top feature. Hats, hoods, hip-hop caps), Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, 20 October, 2022 to 30 April, 2023
(Exhibition not yet on the museum website)
Head coverings have been and continue to be prime means of communication: they are used for self-presentation, to indicate hierarchies, and can both unite and divide groups of people. The Bayerisches Nationalmuseum presents around 300 hats, hoods, caps and much more from its collection. From the Middle Ages to the present day, various aspects of the cultural history of this “top feature” are illuminated.
Historic original articles form the central focus of the exhibition, with commentary and explanation provided via an abundance of visual materials. The presentation is enhanced by loans of 20th- and 21st-century pieces from important private collections, as well as modern-day milliners and hat artists. In this special exhibition visitors can see that head coverings are fashion statements which boast a unique diversity and are simply beautiful!
Future bodies from a recent past – sculpture, technology, bodies since the 1950s, Museum Brandhorst, 2 June, 2022 to 15 January, 2023
That rapid mechanization has and will continue in future to have fundamental significance for our bodies is as obvious as it is impossible to predict in detail. Networking of our bodies and minds by means of technological devices, but also technical “optimisations” to them have long been a reality. The reciprocal relationship between the body and technology has been a theme in contemporary art for a long time now – particularly in sculptures, though it has attracted little attention so far. “Future Bodies” brings the topic to the fore, with works by around 80 international artists – primarily from Europe, the USA and Japan, and dating from the 1950s to the present day.
Sweat, Haus der Kunst, until 27 February, 2022
The human body produces sweat in response to a range of emotional conditions such as resistance, fear, attraction and repulsion, joy, sexual arousal and excess. With moving bodies as the starting point, the “Sweat” exhibition at the Haus der Kunst speaks of sensual self-empowerment and tells tales of resistance. The 30 artistic voices that have united to stage this exhibition originated in different places, at different times and in the face of different conditions of social pressure.
The respective experiences of exclusion and suppression – with respect to culture, gender, origin, social class or sexuality – are neither weighed against one another nor delimited as part of the process. Rather, “Sweat” is intended to direct attention to the complexity of different realities and to create sensory access to current social discourses.
German Pop – Thomas Bayrle, K.H. Hödicke, Jörg Immendorff, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Museum Brandhorst, until 30 April, 2022
In parallel with the emergence of Andy Warhol and American Pop Art, many artists in Germany also reacted to the new consumer culture of the 1960s. In recent decades, the Museum Brandhorst art gallery has added a number of outstanding “German Pop” works to its collection. The most recent of these include Jörg Immendorff’s “Teine Tunst mache” (Make No Art), Thomas Bayrle’s “Vasarely” (both 1965), and six early paintings by K.H. Hödicke. Currently on display on the ground floor of the building, the works explore the conservative understanding of art in post-war Germany.
Joan Jonas, Haus der Kunst, 9 September, 2022 to 29 January, 2023
The most comprehensive exhibition of work dedicated to visionary artist Joan Jonas (b.1936, New York) in Germany to date has been conceived by the artist and Haus der Kunst in collaboration with Tate Modern, London. Characterised by her fundamental interest in cultural rites and the dynamic processes of mirroring, shifting and redefining genre and time, the major retrospective is underpinned by themes that have recurred throughout her career.
Environmental issues, echoed in early video works such as “Wind” (1968) are central to multimedia installations “Reanimation” (2010–12) and “Stream or River, Flight or Pattern” (2016), which address climate change and the threat to the ecosystem. The exploration of collective narratives of mythology, fairy tales and fables, set against a backdrop of contemporary, socio-political events form the starting point for works such as “Juniper Tree” (1969), “Volcano Saga” (1985), and “Lines in the Sand” (2002).
Kunstlabor 2, Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA), from now for five years
Situated in the Maxvorstadt district and located in a former health centre, Kunstlabor 2 spans some 10,000 square metres over six floors. The building was transformed into a new centre for art and culture as a temporary project by the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA). A particularly exciting point for lovers of street art and urban art to note is that two of the six floors have been – and continue to be – transformed into a walk-in work of art by more than 100 artists.
Those involved include household names such as Loomit and rapper Samy Deluxe, but also newcomers such as Pepe (alias Jose Luis Villanueva Contreras). In addition to the permanent room installations and changing exhibitions, the centre offers an extensive framework programme including guided tours, workshops, film days, concerts, readings, labs, performances and many other cultural highlights. The operators of Kunstlabor 2 offer the façade to artists to use as a design platform, legally and free of charge.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 -The 100 Best Images at the Museum Mensch und Natur, 10 Dezember, 2021 to 6 March, 2022
With the exhibition Wildlife Photographer of the Year, a public favourite returns to the Museum Mensch und Natur (Museum of Man and Nature). On display are the award-winning images of the eponymous competition for nature photography, which is considered the largest and most renowned of its kind and is organised annually by the Natural History Museum London. With a total of 100 fascinating images, the exhibition offers moving insights into the magnificent, diverse and sometimes dramatic natural world.
Ragnar Axelsson. Where the world is melting, 15 December, 2021 to 13 March, 2022, Versicherungskammer Kulturstiftung
For over 40 years, icelander Ragnar Axelsson, Rax (b. 1958), has been photographing the people, animals and landscape of the most remote regions of the Arctic, including Iceland, Siberia and Greenland. In stark black-and-white images, he captures the elemental, human experience of nature at the edge of the liveable world, making visible the extraordinary relationships between the people of the Arctic and their extreme environment – relationships now being altered in profound and complex ways by unprecedented climate changes.
A photojournalist at Morgunblaðið (1976 – 2020), Ragnar has also worked on freelance assignments in Latvia, Lithuania, Mozambique, South Africa, China and Ukraine. His photographs have been featured in LIFE, Newsweek, Stern, GEO, National Geographic, Time, and Polka, and have been exhibited widely.
Intimate Distance. Photographs by Barbara Niggl Radloff 1958-2004, Münchner Stadtmuseum, until 20 March, 2022
After a youth spent surrounded by the ruins of the Second World War, artist Barbara Niggl Radloff (1936 – 2010) discovered photography as the ideal medium for her to capture the people and events of post-war Munich. Niggl Radloff left behind an impressive body of work from her early career as a photojournalist and her intensive work creating portraits of artists.
In 2018, the Radloff family donated her artistic estate to the Münchner Stadtmuseum Photography Collection. Her oeuvre occupies a unique place in post-1945 German photography, yet it has largely been overlooked until very recently. The Münchner Stadtmuseum is now privileged to present a major retrospective of her work to the public for the first time.
Duckomenta, Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (State Museum of Egyptian Art/SMÄK), until 30 January, 2022
The Duckomenta exhibition offers an unusual yet highly amusing dialogue with great art. It’s not only the Mona Lisa or Èdouard Manet’s picnickers from “Luncheon on the Grass” that you will discover sporting duck bills: fossils, foreign artefacts and sculptures from all eras and all parts of the world are given the treatment to demonstrate with a wink that ducks have been a beak’s-length ahead of humans more than once.
DUCKOMENTA is a project by Berlin artists’ group interDuck, which has been presenting deceptively realistic duck exhibits for 30 years. The pieces are inspired by world-renowned highlights from human rights and cultural history. Around 150 original DUCKOMENTA works will be presented at the SMÄK, including a number of new discoveries from Ancient Egypt.
To be seen. queer lives 1900 - 1950, NS-Dokumentationszentrum Munich (Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism), 18 May, 2022 to 8 January, 2023
The exhibition at the NS-Dokumentationszentrum is devoted to the eventful history of the LGBTQI+ community during the first half of the 20th century. Selected exhibits show how queer life became ever more visible in all areas of public life – art and culture, science, politics and military. However, the more confidently people fought for equal rights, the greater the resistance they encountered. The Nazi ruling powers largely destroyed the queer subculture and the spaces it occupied.
“TO BE SEEN” invites visitors to trace these often-forgotten stories and ways of living. In addition to historic accounts, the exhibition includes works by present-day artists, some of which were created especially for the show.
Mobile Kinderwelten (Mobile children’s worlds), Verkehrszentrum (transport museum) at the Deutsches Museum, until 20 February, 2022
“Look at that – I used to have one just like it!” Exclamations like this are more common than usual at the Verkehrszentrum (transport museum) in the Deutsches Museum right now. The sight of a chopper-style bike, go-kart or soapbox is enough to take many grown-ups back decades. And it’s not just the little ones who will get some fun out of rolling along on the Steiff ride-on bear or strapping a set of springs to the soles of their shoes. The “Mobile Kinderwelten” special exhibition showcases moving toys from a period spanning more than 150 years. The collection includes around 80 pieces, some of them rare or downright bizarre, from the Zimmerrodelbahn (indoor toboggan run) to a fire engine carousel.
19 completely new permanent exhibitions on Museumsinsel, at the Deutsches Museum from 2022
The first phase of the extensive modernisation of the Museumsinsel building is complete. Now there are 19 completely new permanent exhibitions to explore on the 20,000-square-metre site. The diverse list of themes covered ranges from atomic physics to agriculture; from chemistry to bridges and hydraulic engineering; and from aeronautics and space travel to health. A number of major masterpieces are on display, such as the first diesel engine, the Siemens electronic music studio, the Helios space probe and the famous/infamous Enigma code machine.
In addition, there are also several new Deutsches Museum acquisitions to admire, such as the groundbreaking Sycamore quantum processor and the first approved coronavirus vaccines. A wealth of interactive demonstrations, accessible exhibitions, virtual reality and augmented reality experience rooms and numerous media stations bring technology and science to life and make them tangible in the truest sense of the word.