Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Assignment 3.1 Pinakothek der Moderne

This is a very new gallery in Munich housed in an imposing modern building that is as much a work of art as the collections it houses.  It was inaugurated in 2002 after a 7 year build.  The exterior is dominated by white and grey concrete interspersed by large areas of glass and almost spindly looking columns.  At the center of the building is a rotunda and large open space in which the entrance to the museum and visitor facilities are housed.  The exhibits divide into 4 distinct collections, Art, Architecture, Design, and Works on Paper.  I have previously Blogged this museum during my Art of Photography course, so more detail about the collection and my response to it can be found at


This time I was visiting the museum to study its function and form, not the exhibits within.  I headed there on a Sunday, a particularly good choice as entry to this (and most Munich museums) is only one Euro on Sundays.  This makes it possible to visit the museum and just explore a section for an hour or so and not feel compelled to get ones moneys worth, ideal for a photographic study.

Approaching the museum the overwhelming impression is the stark facades and columns, dwarfing the visitors, but also offering an interesting and perhaps inspiring place to hang out and think a little:

The building also exhibits interesting symmetries and within the glass can be reflected the more traditional buildings that surround it

The juxtaposition of old and new can be seen in this photograph, which shows the Alte Pinakothek seen through the columnar entrance to the Neue Pinakothek.  The Alte contains paintings ranging from medieval to the 18th century, very different from the Neue.

However, the stark exterior is broken up by the odd tree and an outdoor cafe

Just around the corner from the Neue Pinakothek is the Brandhorst museum with its kaleidoscopic exterior covered in ceramic plates of many colours.

Entering the musuem you immediately arrive in the central rotunda which sells tickets and provides access to the cloakroom, toilets, and museum shop.  It is also in its own right an amazing space and one that my 24mm widest focal length could not do justice to

Once inside the museum even the steps down to the Loo's are a work of art

This building offers many possibilities to illustrate the interaction of people and architecture, the exterior and entrance function as access and shelter, but also simply as art in and of itself.  However, the real function of an art gallery is to facilitate the interaction of visitors with art.  On entering the design section the visitor is immediately faced with an illuminated wall of work by Luigi Colani.  This is visible from a stair case, descending which changes the perspective and impact of the work.  Seen from halfway up the staircase, this is a breathtaking ensemble of modern design

At the bottom and just visible in this image are chairs for people to relax and contemplate the work together with a console that explains each piece.  When I took this photograph I was immediately taken by the two people standing in front of the wall and thrown into silhouette by the illumination.  I shifted from 24mm to 70mm, sat down on the steps and waited.  The following two photographs happened:

In the second case I have carefully cropped the image so that the frame of the exhibit defines the frame of the photograph.  The two kids inspecting the bike illustrate perfectly the interactive nature of the exhibit.  The only colour in the image is part of the exhibit all else is caste in black shadow.

Another exhibit in the design section also caught my attention, a collection of kitchen ware, by the classic Italian design company Alessi.  This is a very different and very colourful exhibit, but again shows how people interact with the objects.  This exhibit also offered multiple viewpoints, plus a very interesting lighting concept:

The large vertical structures were a kind of revolving lift with objects on shelves moving up and down.  The exhibit was advertised by a few giant reproductions of classic Alessi products

The steps are the vantage point from which I photographed the Colani exhibit.  One last image from this trip was a very effective exhibit of chair design, the multiple layers and curves make for interesting photographic possibilities

This was a very productive and interesting space within which to study a building function and form, the lighting made for challenging photographs, but ultimately contributed to the mood and structure of the images

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