Annual program 2023

Annual program 2023

Lenbachhaus Munich

Charlotte Salomon, M004925 gouache from Life? or Theater, Collection Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam. © Charlotte Salomon Foundation.

November 27, 2022
Annual program 2023
Lenbachhaus Munich
Luisenstraße 33
80333 Munich
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm,
Thursday 10am–8pm

T +49 89 23396933
F +49 89 23332003
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Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theater?
March 31–September 10, 2023
Organized in cooperation with the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam

Life? or Theater? is the life’s work of the artist Charlotte Salomon (1917, Berlin–1943, Auschwitz) which was completed within two years after her flight in 1939 from Berlin to southern France. This “Singspiel,” as she called it, consists of 1325 gouache drawings, divided into three acts, and has been revised and administered by the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam since 1971. The rich convolute of drawings, text, and scenic annotations in gouache is an outstanding artistic work of the 20th century and full of references to the art, music, film, and philosophy of Salomon’s time. Simultaneously, it provides unique insight into Salomon’s eventful and self-determined life.

The narrative form of “Life? or Theater?” has remained relevant to this day. The illustrations and text come together like scene sets in a theater production or screenplay, while at the same time anticipating the hybrid nature of the text and image layers of graphic novels. The characters in the work are based on Solomon’s personal environment but are carefully developed by her and thus abstracted into fictional characters in a story that is larger than life. Salomon’s narrative is therefore not to be read as an autobiographical factual report, but rather brings different situations and life circumstances into a context of meaning that is both personal and universal. Thus, in her “Singspiel,” Salomon gives primary significance to the interpersonal events of her life while the looming National Socialist threat runs as a background noise through it.

Life? or Theater? testifies to a self-confident artistic practice through innovative and powerful pictorial inventions as well as subtle ironic nuances. Outside of her art as well, Salomon emerges as a sovereign protagonist—despite family misfortunes and anti-Semitic persecution. Her life’s work thus offers a unique insight into the complex and violently truncated life of a young artist.

Curated by Irene Faber, Curator, Collection Jewish Historical Museum Amsterdam
Coordinated at Lenbachhaus by Dierk Höhne and Stephanie Weber

Natascha Sadr Haghighian
May 23–October 8, 2023

Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s environments are rooted in the political present. Her works seek to establish venues for collectivity and communal action. A cooperative working method and ramified, at times deliberately obscured authorship are characteristic of her approach. This is motivated in no small part by the playfully realized objective of shifting the focus away from the artist subject and its representative roles and toward the need for artistic and poetic action. For her work for the German pavilion in Venice in 2019, she adopted the pseudonym Natascha Süder Happelmann—a condensation of the accumulated misspellings and autocorrections of her Iranian name—and wore a papier-mâché rock on her head that demonstrated the absurdity of national representation with a sense of comedy.

The Lenbachhaus exhibits key projects of Sadr Haghighian’s oeuvre: In Ankersentrum, a multipart installation first presented in Venice, Sadr Haghighian focuses on migration and modern forms of servitude. The title is a reference to the “Centers for Arrival, Decision-Making, Repatriation” first set up in Bavaria—the acronymic “Anker,” or “anchor,” is a euphemism for a process designed to isolate and deport migrants. The 48-channel sound composition Tribute to Whistle, the installation’s musical component, is a nod to a method widely used by migrants: warning others of the threat of deportation by whistle. A constellation of videos, photographs, and drawings charts the coordinates of a landscape that extends from Bavaria through southern Italy to Sicily and that is shaped by the struggles of migration.

With Pssst Leopard 2A7+, a project ongoing since 2013, the artist grapples with a product of the German arms industry. The work—a sound installation that also serves as a dais visitors are invited to sit on—reprises the footprint and dimensions of the titular combat tank, made by the Munich-based arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann for military deployments in urban environments. The installation’s sonic archive grows with every station of its voyage and now makes its debut in Munich, the origin of the tank, which was sold most recently to Hungary and Qatar.

Turner: Three Horizons
October 28, 2023–March 10, 2024
The exhibition is organized by Lenbachhaus in cooperation with Tate, London

Joseph Mallord William Turner has long been hailed as a revolutionary innovator who helped pave the way for modernism. Colour attained a hitherto unseen freedom in his pictures. He began exploring the possibilities of landscape painting early on, both by studying earlier masters of the genre and in direct engagement with the world around him. He experimented with the conventions of his craft, gradually pushing the boundaries of traditional representation. Soon his works loosened the bond that tied them to nature as it appears to the eye to such a degree that, in their reduction to colour, light, and atmosphere, they called the picture’s representational function into question. His art amazed contemporary beholders and sparked controversy. Posterity has celebrated his prodigious modernity.

Turner himself had a hand in weaving the enduring myth that surrounds him. Our exhibition investigates the question of how the artist trained and invented himself and honed his image. It examines the public strategies he pursued, for example, in exhibitions at the Royal Academy in London, but also in his experiments behind the scenes. Another focus of the project is on the response to Turner’s work from participants in contemporary debates over art as well as from later critics, to which he owes his renown as a progenitor of abstraction.

As part of the Lenbachhaus’s ongoing exploration of the history of abstraction, we have long wished to showcase Turner’s art in its full breadth. The cooperation with Tate Britain, London, which preserves his extensive estate, enables us to vividly illustrate Turner’s career and his pictorial innovations. We display around forty paintings and forty watercolours as well as sketches from all parts of his oeuvre.

Günter Fruhtrunk: The Paris Years (1954–1967)
November 20, 2023–April 8, 2024

In 1981, the newsweekly “Stern” ran a satirical drawing that has since become famous: West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, in the midst of the East-West conflict, sits, between vodka and Coca-Cola, on a sofa in his bungalow—on the wall above him a painting by Günter Fruhtrunk. A year before his death, Fruhtrunk, a professor at the Munich Academy, was widely hailed as one of the Federal Republic’s leading exponents of concrete art. His design for the Aldi-Nord shopping bag in its aloof distinctiveness deservedly became iconic first in West, then in reunified Germany.

But Fruhtrunk’s career had begun decades earlier, in France: in the early 1950s, the young artist, living in the French occupation zone in southwest Germany, did everything in his power to get to Paris, home to the most innovative champions of a painting liberated from the task of representation. There he hoped to develop his own style. In 1954, he finally moved to the French capital, where he lived until his appointment to the teaching position in Munich in 1967, and he maintained a home in France even afterwards. Working with exceptional precision and patience, he painted pictures that were meant to be free of the artist’s personal or interpretational aspirations, that wanted to be pure “articulated chromatic texture of the greatest luminosity.” His objective was nothing less than the “freedom of seeing.”

He was supported by influential veterans of the prewar avant-garde and represented by Galerie Denise René, which gathered the most uncompromising exponents of a constructive abstraction. Fruhtrunk was tireless in his efforts to enlarge his transnational network of artists, critics, philosophers, gallerists. His first solo exhibitions were held in Paris, Milan, Marseille, and it was from France that he built a German audience for his work.

Our exhibition zooms in on this prolific period in Fruhtrunk’s life and oeuvre and sets it in the context of the Franco-German art relations in the 1950s and 1960s. Around forty works with which he presented himself to the public at the time convey a vivid sense of the contemporary beholders’ experience.

Concurrently, the Kunstmuseum Bonn will present a Günter Fruhtrunk retrospective that will travel to the Museum Wiesbaden. ­

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Lenbachhaus Munich
November 27, 2022

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