Die Pinakothek der Moderne is supersized eye-candy and it contains some pretty impressive works of art too. It is the newest of three world renown Pinakotheken in München, Germany, hence its local nickname “Dritte”, the third. The German term Pinakothek is of Greek origin meaning literally storehouse [formative element: thek] of painted tablets [pinax, genitive case: pinakos], although museum, Greek for Home of the Muses, rather than storehouse sounds so much prettier. Some locals are apparently quite dismissive of this decidedly stunning storehouse, calling it a “cardboard box” owing to its lack of Bavarian baroque charm. Oh well, not everybody appreciates contemporary architecture or minimalism.
The design department was our primary destination.
Design.Vision: This two-story high wall unit represents a three-dimensional inventory list of the spectrum and depth of the collections of design objects in the museum. It contains examples of designs from prototypes to unique individual pieces to everyday objects in mass production.
Looking back up toward the rotunda and just up.
Audi became a permanent part of the Pinakothek der Moderne in 2013 with this wall installation for the automotive design section.
A feast for theses car aficionados, but there was a whole lot more to be admired in the extensive design department of the Pinakothek!
And then there are the furniture designs, especially mid-century modern and their predecessors, the Art Nouveau and Modernism creations. They have long been an obsession of ours.
The museum’s central chair exhibit is titled Bentwood.Plywood
According to architect and designer Alvar Aalto, non of the innovative, contemporary furniture designs would have occurred without the vision of master cabinetmaker Michael Thonet [1796 – 1871]. Thonet realized a pioneering principle: form as a result of industrial production methods. By utilizing serial production methods for furniture parts, Thonet initiated the industrial revolution for carpentry. His two most significant advances were the use of steam and pressure to shape solid beechwood rods, thus replacing individually carved shapes and designs with machine-driven mass production. Secondly, Thonet no longer glued together the parts of a piece of furniture but screwed them together. This allowed for the much more economical shipping of disassembled furniture – see IKEA! Michael Thonet published catalogs advertising his furniture far and wide, eventually offering roughly 1400 different models, which was only possible because they contained standardized components which significantly lowered production time.
With the development of plywood, Thonet’s mechanized bentwood technics carried over into the design creations of such masters as Aalto, Breuer, Eames, et al, and reached new frontiers with Gerald Summers’ bent plywood chair and contemporary laser cut cardboard and plywood forms, as for example the 2002 chaise by Beat Frank below.
After watching furniture in paternoster lift perpetual motion, we intended to proceed to the first floor for ‘works on paper’ and simply ‘art’. However, an overzealous guard ushered us with great determination toward the Danner-Rotunde in the basement. This area is dedicated to contemporary jewelry design, reviewed and curated by not one but two eminent professors. This exhibit was quite disappointing, even boring, permeated by an air of neglect. The atmosphere in the dimly lit room was reminiscent of an underground passage in a suburban station after the last train had departed. The reference material was difficult to decipher, so I have no information on the three pieces I selected to show you.
We made it upstairs on the double to be soothed by old friends and to discover new ones. One such discovery was the work of Karl Hubbuch with whom I had hitherto not been familiar. A whole room dedicated to postcard size greetings from Franz Marc to his friend poet Else Lasker-Schüler, each one decorated with his drawings and his own poetry was also a wonderful revelation. It was sad, though, to learn that Marc’s “Turm der Blauen Pferde”, a lifelong favorite of mine, still has not been found. It was confiscated by the Nazi regime in 1937 and disappeared in 1945. There may have been two further sightings as late as 1948 and a persistent rumor mentioning a vault in a Zürich bank, which gives hope the Tower of Blue Horses may one day reappear. Yet another story extends the intrigue surrounding the towering masterpiece. The painting had been on display in the National Gallery museum in Berlin since 1919 when it was removed by Hitler’s art censors. It was to be included in a special Nazi exhibition of “Entartete Kunst”, Degenerate Art, to teach the unsuspecting German citizenry which works of art to denounce so that the party bigwigs could grab them for themselves. But something unusual, possibly unique occurred. The League of Officers of the Armed Forces [more an explanation than a translation of ‘Deutscher Offiziersbund’] sent a letter of protest to the NSDAP party leadership, stating that Lieutenant Franz Marc, killed in action in WWI at age 36, was a German war hero and thus, shouldn’t be treated with such disrespect. Feldmarshall Göring promptly complied – kindly taking the painting into his personal custody. A British officer claimed to have seen it in Göring’s office …
A major installation by internationally known and renown German artist Joseph Beuys proved quite illuminating for me. I had never been able to warm up to his eccentric personality and outrageous public behavior. I suppose with age comes greater willingness to accept and learn, and to appreciate the thought processes, artistic expressions, and philosophies of others.
All those great works of art and the architecture of the building in which they live, inspired me to some pixel play so I can add my own interpretation of the Pinakothek der Moderne to this post.
But when it’s all said and done, it’s most important to hug a friend!