Study Tour 4
Dr Niccola Shearman and Maria Mehlstäubl-Truman
Friday 10 – Sunday 12 September 2021
After 1900, the city of Munich rivalled Paris as a cosmopolitan hub of experiment. Stepping onto fertile ground prepared by the first Secessionist artists, here it was that Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Gabriele Mϋnter and others developed an emotional Expressionism, in which colour and form were to serve an ‘inner necessity’. During the chaotic months following the armistice in 1918, the city was ruled for a brief period by a revolutionary council of artists and writers. However, in stark contrast to the colourful environment that characterised this cradle of German modernism, the sinister events that followed Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 would see Munich become the grave of such potential.
This weekend of study is designed with two aims in mind: firstly, it will provide a close encounter with art works from Munich’s modernist collections, beginning with a virtual tour of the Lenbachhaus, where the celebrated collection of Expressionist paintings presents the unfolding path towards abstraction. The second aim concerns the broader picture of cultural life in this art-loving city, from the Wittelsbach kings through the period of democracy after 1918, to the rise of Nazi dictatorship. To this end, a tour of the architectural fabric of the city – existing and long-since erased – will be animated by maps and photographs, plus extracts of literature, music and personal memoirs from figures including Lion Feuchtwanger, Thomas and Katja Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, Arnold Schoenberg and others. Thus equipped, we shall nose around the favourite haunts of the avant-garde in the bohemian district of Schwabing and venture further afield to follow the artists of the Blaue Reiter to their summer retreat in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. The story will close with some of the architectural relics of the Nazi propaganda machine, including the gargantuan Haus der Kunst – temple to ‘Great German Art’ opened in 1937 as the vitriolic ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition was staged nearby.