Exhibition | Body and Soul: Munich Rococo from Asam to Günther

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 8, 2014


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the Kunsthalle Munich:

Body and Soul: Munich Rococo from Asam to Günther
Mit Leib und Seele: Münchner Rokoko von Asam bis Günther
Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, 12 December 2014 – 12 April 2015

The Kunsthalle Munich and the Diocesan Museum Freising are organising a joint exhibition on Munich rococo—a golden age of Bavarian art, unparalleled even by international standards.

The exhibition presents numerous outstanding artists who lived in Munich between 1720 and 1770, like the Asam brothers, Cosmas Damian (1686–1739) and Egid Quirin (1692–1750), along with Johann Baptist Straub (1704–1784), Anton Bustelli (1723–1763) and Ignaz Günther (1725–1775). On the one hand, their exceptionally aesthetic language is characterised by an almost unprecedented jocular vitality, then again it is pervaded with a refined elegance. Visitors will be treated to a unique exhibition experience as numerous significant works from Bavaria and Germany’s wealth of churches, museums and castles come together in a fascinating journey. Thanks to the cooperation with the diocesan, many of the works have been loaned by churches and monasteries for the very first time and are being presented in the rooms of the Kunsthalle in this unique exhibition. Rarely in the past have visitors been given the opportunity to behold these otherwise almost inaccessible works in such proximity, allowing their artistic and technical qualities to be unveiled.

The Many Faces of Rococo


Johann Baptist Straub, Raphael the Archangel from the high altar, 1767, gilt and polyhcrome wood, 200 cm (Munich: Parish Church of St. Michael, © Thomas Dashuber).

The exhibition is showing approximately 160 rococo masterpieces, particularly sculptures in wood and other materials like stucco, clay, porcelain and silver, together with paintings, drawings and graphic prints. The starting point of the exhibition is the baroque artwork combining architecture, painting, stucco and sculpture, which reached its final, particularly impressive culmination in the hands of the Asam brothers. Contextualised by Bozzetti (sculptural designs) and drawings, the sculptures of Johann Baptist Straub and Ignaz Günther are at the very heart of the exhibition. Straub is considered to be the founding father of rococo sculpture, while Günther marks the pinnacle, and yet also the grand finale, of the epoch. Christian Jorhan the Elder (1727–1804) and Franz Xaver Schmädl (1705–1777) represent the generation of students who propagated Munich’s rococo beyond the city walls and out into the surrounding areas. Anton Bustelli introduces a mundane aspect: the effortless sophistication and playfulness of his renowned porcelain figures, which were popular table decorations at court, symbolise the entire era. The final chapter of the exhibition is dedicated to the sculptor Roman Anton Boos (1733–1810). Although his works are clearly rooted in the tradition of his predecessors, at the same
time they presage the emerging art of classicism.


François Cuvilliés, detail of the decorative frame from the St Anne Altar, 1742–44 (Munich: Wallfahrts-kirche St. Anna, © Thomas Dashuber)

Between Play and Earnest

The exhibition aims to offer fresh insight with an unadulterated look at the epoch and, in so doing, not merely showcase the high artistic quality of the works but also to integrate them in the zeitgeist and the spiritual world. In the process, rococo art is taken literally in its specificity and its characteristics—the playful, delicate elements—turn out to be its inherent strengths. Far-reaching issues, relating to the mounting of the sculptures, their architectural integration or workshop practice for example, are also addressed.

The art of Munich rococo interfuses sacrality and profanity, the ecclesiastical and courtly worlds, but also play and earnest. Thus, an aesthetic language emerges that is unique in Europe, yet entirely its own.

A lavishly illustrated catalogue with further essays and detailed information on all the exhibits has been published by Sieveking Verlag to accompany the exhibition.


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From the publisher:

Christoph Kürzeder, Ariane Mensger, Peter Volk, et al. Mit Leib und Seele: Münchner Rokoko von Asam bis Günther (Sieveking Verlag, 2014), 384 pages, ISBN 978-3944874159, 50€.

Rokoko_Entw_SU_f_Forschau.inddThe exhibition Mit Leib und Seele (Body and Soul) aims to shed new light on the astounding stylistic diversity of the Munich Rococo between the years 1720 and 1770. The accompanying publication illustrates how a fresh consideration of the era provides illuminating insights into works by a range of artists, including the Asam brothers, Johann Baptist Straub, Franz Anton Bustelli, and Ignaz Günther. While the focus is on sculpture, the exhibition also features porcelain, silverwork, paintings, and drawings. The high art of the Rococo is presented in the context of its zeitgeist and religious milieu and appears more vibrant and more spectacular than ever: with their elegant, refined physicality and profound spirituality the artworks of this important period enter into a dialogue with viewers—and engage both body and soul.

The Kunsthalle of the Hypo Cultural Foundation in Munich is exhibiting these epochal works in partnership with the Diözesanmuseum Freising. The result of this collaboration is a unique exhibition in which the Munich Rococo will be seen in a presentation unprecedented in its magnitude and quality.

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