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Since autumn 2020, Neues Museum presents highlights from the unique collection of Museum Brandhorst in Munich. The 40 works by 17 artists of course include the collection’s two superstars, Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly, both of whose work is represented in an incomparable breadth and variety at the Munich museum.
Painterly begins with Warhol and Twombly. On the one hand the cool inventor of Pop Art and master reproducer of found images from mass culture. On the other hand the expressive gestures of Twombly, whose nervous spontaneity recalls urban graffiti. Both focus on the question of the status of the painterly gesture and the painter subject, as the irregularities in Warhol’s screen-prints ultimately also point in this direction, doing so with Pop Art’s typical subversion of the possibility of authentic individual expression as previously proclaimed by Abstract Expressionism. Whether in affirmative or critical terms, younger artists, too, address themes like authorship, capital, production, representation, power and gender relations.
Few other museums in Germany have played such a major role in fostering debate on the present and future of painting as Museum Brandhorst. Special attention is focussed, according to the museum’s director Achim Hochdörfer, on the question of “how, since the beginning of the information age in the 1960s, there has been productive friction between progressive approaches to painting and the media conditions of mass culture.” In 2015, Museum Brandhorst put this view of the recent history of painting up for discussion under the title Painting 2.0. Another focus of the selection of works presented by Museum Brandhorst in Nuremberg for the first time is “painting in the information age” – for surprisingly, the renewed interest in painting in recent years has coincided with the rapid development of new digital technologies.
In spite of the daily flood of media images and information, the old-fashioned medium of painting has lost none of its relevance. On the contrary, painting on canvas has recently undergone a transformation and revitalization, for example in Albert Oehlen’s computer pictures, Jacqueline Humphries’ emoji-strewn surfaces, or the large-format works made by Wade Guyton using an inkjet printer.
With the opening of Museum Brandhorst in 2009, Munich’s art quarter around the three main galleries gained an additional centre for contemporary art. The museum has its roots in the collection of Anette and Udo Brandhorst.
Thanks to the Brandhorst Foundation, created in 1993, the museum, which is run by the Free State of Bavaria, has at its disposal a generous acquisitions budget: in its first decade alone, the collection grew from 500 to 1200 works.