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New Wall Covering for the Rooms of the Alte Pinakothek

MUNICH.- The face of the Alte Pinakothek is about to change, bringing a festive atmosphere to one of the most famous art galleries in the world. On 13th September 2008 the first three rooms to receive new wall covering will be presented to the viewing public. Over the following months, further rooms belonging to the entire suite on the upper floor of the Alte Pinakothek are to be re-designed. The new look is based on the use of strong colours: lush green and red alternating to purple. The chosen silk material (faille) was woven and dyed in Lyon. Its coarse grained structure was specially customised to the needs of the Alte Pinakothek.

The new shades of colour have historical roots. They relate back to the style that prevailed when the rooms were designed during the building of the Alte Pinakothek, one which continued well into the 20th century. As far back as the time of King Ludwig I. of Bavaria and his architect Klenze the use of wall covering alternating in red and green signified the continuation of an age-old tradition. From the late 16th century onwards, it was customary to present the paintings by old masters against the backcloth of these colours – and in many of Europe’s leading art galleries, be they in Florence or London, Madrid or St. Petersburg, Paris or Vienna, this is still the case today. And so now we find the Alte Pinakothek reverting to the tradition of its own history as well as that of comparable institutions.

The new wall covering replaces the previous velvet of partly grey, partly deliberately subdued colours which were introduced during the restoration of the Alte Pinakothek in the period 1994 to 1998. Compared with the now visibly worn velvet, the new wall covering brings not only forceful colour to the rooms but also a marked improvement in the quality and finish of the material. This has, though, been accomplished at costs reaching beyond the means of the Bavarian State.

The funding of the project would not have been possible without the aid of the private initiative launched by friends of the Pinakothek galleries, the Pinakotheks-Verein. This »Verein zur Förderung der Alten und Neuen Pinakothek München e.V.« was founded more than fifty years ago to support the reconstruction and refurbishing of the war-damaged Alte Pinakothek; it later extended its activities to acquiring artworks in order to enrich the collections of the Alte Pinakothek and subsequently those of the Neue Pinakothek, too. Now the Pinakotheks-Verein has returned to its original field of commitment by seizing the opportunity to have the walls of the very heart of the Alte Pinakothek, the Rubens Room, covered in red silk.

Each of the nine private donors and two other charitable foundations has generously agreed to fund one of the remaining rooms so that they, too, in turn can be refurbished in similar style.

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