Munich's Haus Der Kunst

Founded by Hitler, the House of Art has transformed itself to a vibrant and avant-garde art museum. With ever changing collections, the Haus der Kunst warrants a look each time you return to Munich.

Munich’s House of Art, located on the edge of the famed Englischer Garten, has a checkered past. Conceived by Hitler, the “House of German Art” opened in 1937. As the Nazi’s attempted to rid Germany of “degenerate art,” they built this monolithic building to promote the party’s view of what art should look like. There’s no doubt that Adolph would be appalled by the art in his building – that’s part of the fun of going there!

Unlike most museums, Haus der Kunst doesn’t possess a collection of works. Instead, the exhibition changes frequently. This weekend, we had a look at all three collections (14 Euro per person). The three exhibitions were from Thomas Ruff, Wilhelm Sasnal, and Sammlung Goetz.  First a disclaimer: Although my mother is an artist, I am not an art critic and have absolutely no training. My opinion is offered solely as lay person who loves Munich.

Thomas Ruff Exhibition: This artist specializes in photography and presented an array of themes in various formats. He presents large format prints of the stars, of common portraits, houses, nudes, and even propaganda posters.  I really did enjoy some of his. Notably, he found some glass negatives from the 1930’s from a machine shop near Düsseldorf. He reworked this raw material into an art form which was quite interesting – perfect for my machine shop upbringing. He also presented several boring and banal buildings which he photographed in the early mornings in the later winter. These grey scenes with these nothing but functional buildings made for an interesting subject. There was even a room filled with semi-blurred pornographic scenes. I didn’t get to see much of that because my wife dragged me out of there quickly!

William Sasnal: He is a polish artist most famous to Americans for his illustrations in the Maus comic series by Art Spiegelman. Surprisingly, there were only a handful of works that were even slightly reminiscent of that work. Mainly oil paintings, his work covers a variety of themes and broad spectrum of style.

Goetz Collection: This film collection was hard to find. You actually need to exit in the rear of the building, go outside and downstairs into the cellar. This former air raid shelter now houses 14 small rooms with various films running in a constant loop. Many of the films had to do with dancing; one was about Blackpool, another about drug dealers meeting in New York. There wasn’t much in the way of dialog or plot in any of them and this truthfully wasn’t out thing. Plus, the confined nature of these rooms was creepy and we desperately wanted out as quickly as possible!