When people hear the name "Lenbachhaus", its collection (the largest in the world) of paintings by members of the Blue Rider group is normally the first thing that comes to mind. Munich's municipal gallery has a lot more on display, however. International in outlook, the gallery houses 19th century art from the city, works from the Expressionist and New Objectivity movements, and pieces produced by famous international artists of the present day. The mission of the Lenbachhaus is to create a contrast between works from radically different stylistic periods, provide a platform for new artistic ideas and showcase important developments.
Today, the paintings by the Blue Rider artists are considered to be part of the Modernist avant-garde in Germany. Names here include Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter, Franz Marc, August Macke and Paul Klee. While Expressionist painters deliberately turned their backs on realism, the artists who worked in the New Objectivity style returned to the visible world around them, as demonstrated by the paintings of Georg Schrimpf and Rudolf Schlichter, both of whom played a key role in this movement. Contemporary art also has creative objectives all of its own. One work deserves special mention: "Show Your Wound" (1979) by Joseph Beuys, which presents viewers with an eye-opening illustration of their own mortality.
When the Lenbachhaus opened, it focused its attention primarily on Munich's art from the 19th century and 20th century German art. Today, national and international contemporary art plays a very important role at the municipal gallery. Located just a few metres from the Lenbachhaus is a converted metro station: the Kunstbau, or "art building". With its generous space and special lighting system, it is an ideal space for temporary exhibitions of modern artists' works.
While it houses countless painting, sculptures and installations, the Lenbachhaus gallery is itself a work of artistic brilliance. It was originally a townhouse and artist's home, the joint creation of famous artist Franz von Lenbach and Munich's star architect of the era, Gabriel Seidl. The gallery took up residence in the building in 1929, long after Lenbach's death.
Between the Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau is the restaurant and café Ella - this was the pet name of Wassily Kandinsky's fellow painter and partner Gabriele Münter. Guests can relax over delicious coffee and cake, or enjoy a dish that adds Italian flair to dishes from around Europe. Prices are in the upper medium bracket, but the view of the Neoclassical Königsplatz square from the sun-soaked terrace is worth every cent.
Getting here: The Lenbachhaus is an easy 10-minute walk from Munich's main station. Leave the station building on the eastern side, go left and cross Bahnhofsplatz. Cross Arnulfstrasse at the lights some 100 m later, then walk 650 m along Luisenstrasse. This brings you straight to the Lenbachhaus on Königsplatz.