The wanderlust started with my reading of The Story of the Bauhaus.
Then a friend was appearing on stage in Drei Männer im Schnee at Munich’s Gärtnerplatztheater.
If I went to see that, I’d catch a Bauhaus exhibition somewhere in Munich, wouldn’t I? Indeed. In the Pinakothek der Moderne.
Munich pitched to host the Bauhaus when it needed to move from Weimar, but the Bauhaus choose Dessau instead. Nevertheless Munich started collecting key pieces, and to celebrate the centenary of the Bauhaus is now exhibiting a capsule collection, some pieces for the first time. The Reflex Bauhaus exhibition (running until 02.02.2020) juxtaposes Bauhaus classics with interpretations from modern designers.
I can’t see me lying on the slatted sunbed (an update on Marcel Breuel’s slatted chair) or those black building blocks (an update on Hermann Finsterlin’s Diadems). I did enjoy sitting at a replicated Bauhaus chess set, but was disappointed that the digital sound installation that I think would have allowed me to play against myself was not working.
All was not lost, however. The Wassily chair was exhibited (looking as much like a torture instrument, as I expected! It’s the angle of that seat.) So too examples of Bauhaus books, including Bauhaus Book 2, Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook, which has never been out of print, since it was first published in 1925.
From the moment my flight was booked, I knew I would be following the two Bauhauslers, Kandinsky and Klee back in time to their expressionist days as members of the Blaue Reiter (1911-1914). So, in preparation for my visit to the Lenbachhaus, I had read The Blaue Reiter volume in the Taschen Basic Art 2.0 series. (Exquisite hardbacks, with full-page reproductions of the artworks. The accompanying interpretative text can be somewhat overflourished, but this series is unbeatable at just £10 per volume.) This volume served as my introduction to Munich’s very own Franz Marc. His painting, Blue Horse I (1911), is the iconic painting for the Blaue Reiter, and it looked majestic, hanging in the Lenbachhaus with Marc’s other masterpieces.
The Lenbachhaus is a must for anyone who wants to follow the career of Wassily Kandinsky, and in particular his development from early stylised Russian painting to abstraction. Some of these are just too noisy for me, (an appropriate adjective, seeing as Kandinsky was at one point trying to paint impressions of sound), but I did take a long break (I needed it!) on the comfortable leather sofas staring at Kandinsky’s Red Spot II.
I always choose a favourite painting of the day when visiting art galleries; an exercise that proved almost impossible in the Lenbachhaus. How to choose between Kandinsky’s Improvisation 19 (1911), Klee’s Swamp Legend (1919) or Marc’s prismatic Tiger (1912)? I couldn’t. So I choose something new-to-me, Wladimir Burljuk’s Dancer (1910). I love both its colour combination and sense of movement.