“The Trial of Strength” – 200 Years of Kunstakademie München (The Academy of Fine Arts, Munich)








Haus der Kunst, Munich [Germany]

“The Trial of Strength”
200 Years of Kunstakademie München (The Academy of Fine Arts, Munich)
Exhibition > 31 August 2008







On the occasion of the Academy’s 200th anniversary, and of Munich’s 850th birthday, the Haus der Kunst is mounting a major exhibition with exemplary works by professors and students. A pointed selection of nearly one hundred, in part large-format pieces, demonstrates the varied history of the Academy of Fine Arts from the past two centuries to the present.



Jan Matejko
Der Narr Stanczyk, 1862
Öl auf Holz
88 x 120 cm
Warschau, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie
© 2007 Haus der Kunst. All rights of photographed materials reserved



Attraction and Aura (1808 – around 1900)

The first part of the show recollects the Academy’s early years under Peter von Langer and Peter von Cornelius, a member of the Nazarene movement. In the first decades of its existence, the Academy accepted around 50 female students, including Marie Ellenrieder. This was particularly progressive at the time since women were generally not admitted to the public art institutes until the early 20th century.

The exhibition also illustrates the international importance the Munich Academy enjoyed in the 19th century, at a time when it often attracted no less European and North American artists than the Academies in Paris, Vienna or Düsseldorf did.

A focal point of the show is thus history painting, to which the Munich Academy attached the most importance and which remained its greatest advertising feature until the end of the 19th century. The exhibition’s title also alludes to the ‘muscleman’ quality, which some of the monumental paintings at the academy possessed, and makes a direct reference to the title of Franz von Defregger’s painting, “Die Kraftprobe” (The Trial of Strength).



Franz von Defregger
Die Kraftprobe, 1898
Öl auf Leinwand
131,5 x 174 cm
Wien, Österreichische Galerie
© 2007 Haus der Kunst. All rights of photographed materials reserved


Paul Höcker
Jünglingsakt mit Fisch, um 1900
Öl auf Leinwand
85 x 136 cm
Berlin, Schwules Museum – Sammlung Sternweiler
© 2007 Haus der Kunst. All rights of photographed materials reserved


Günter Fruhtrunk
Oppositionelle Freude, 1981
Acryl und Kasein auf Leinwand
166,5 x 211,5 cm
Nürnberg, Neues Museum, Leihgabe der Stadt Nürnberg, Stiftung aus dem Nachlass Günter Fruhtrunk – Hiltrud Fruhtrunk-Steffens 1990
© 2007 Haus der Kunst. All rights of photographed materials reserved



Light Houses and Will-o’ the-Wisp (ca. 1900 to today)

The second part of the exhibition focuses – by means of examples – on the Munich Secession, founded in 1892 and from which the Munich Academy quickly recruited new professors, following the decline of history painting in order to close the gap between it and the established modern movement.

At the turn of the 20th century the school was briefly an international center once again, attracting students such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Moissey Kogan and Franz Marc. However, the academy refused to integrate the modern movement permanently in its teachings.

Following the First World War few appointments – carried out under pressure from the ministry and with resistance from the teaching staff – were made that could be characterized as bold. The moderate Expressionist painter, Karl Caspar, was forced to resign under the Nazis without any protest from his fellow professors.

The exhibition also examines the sinister alliance between the Academy of Art and the “Haus der Deutschen Kunst” (House of German Art), the two Nazi showpiece institutions, and how it came to be through the two major events, “Tag der Deutschen Kunst” (Day of German Art) and “Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung” (Major German Art Exhibition). It then shows how abstraction made its arrival with Ernst Geitlinger and Günter Fruhtrunk after the Second World War and how the Academy once again gained an international orientation to painting and sculpture, an approach, which the Anglo-Saxon realm had preferred since the early 1980’s.

A video installation created by contemporary students of the Academy especially for the exhibition looks at the events of the years around 1968, when the Academy was the stronghold of student protests in Munich, and examines what remains of this new awakening. With this the history of the Academy is brought full circle, from its origins to 2008.


The catalogue book “200 Jahre Kunstakademie München” will be published by the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, Nikolaus Gerhart, Walter Grasskamp, and Florian Matzner; Hirmer Verlag, with approximately 600 pages, 250 illustrations, ISBN 978-3-7774-4205-1; kindly supported by Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung.






    Text © 2007 Haus der Kunst
    Images © All rights of photographed materials reserved.





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~ by Stampfli & Turci on August 19, 2008.

One Response to ““The Trial of Strength” – 200 Years of Kunstakademie München (The Academy of Fine Arts, Munich)”

  1. […] “The Trial of Strength” – 200 Years of Kunstakademie München (The Academy of Fine Art… […]

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