A year after the successful Königsklasse exhibition of summer 2013, numerous outstanding works of contemporary art are again on show in the impressive, bare-brick rooms of the unfinished north wing of Herrenchiemsee Palace, which King Ludwig II of Bavaria had built in the late 19th century. Paintings, sculptures, and installations by Andy Warhol, John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Georg Baselitz, Imi Knoebel, Arnulf Rainer, Wolfgang Laib, and Fabienne Verdier are on display for visitors to contemplate and explore well beyond the usual confines of the museum. Some of the works Wolfgang Laibs work in pollen and a series of paintings by French artist Fabienne Verdier, created using her uniquely calligraphic technique were specifically produced for this exceptional venue, while others originate either from the collections of the Pinakothek der Moderne
or Museum Brandhorst or have been selected in collaboration with the artists, their estates, or collectors.
The exhibition pulsates with a creative tension, the result of the lively and polyphonic dialogue between the contemporary artworks and the enduring, yet anachronistic sense of beauty of Ludwig II, who gave expression, in the 19th century, to his veneration of the absolutist 17th-century monarch, King Louis XIV, and the Versailles he had built. Like Ludwigs palace, the artworks themselves elude the clutches of time through their sheer audacity. Timeless contemplation, not function, is here the underlying intention of both. The historic site of Herrenchiemsee has been transformed into an alternative location for an unconventional encounter with art.
What drives art both its creation and its contemplation is the longing for a protected haven, a place that engenders an open experience, lived for arts sake alone. And for the duration of the current exhibition that place is Herrenchiemsee. This approach to displaying and viewing art deliberately stands in contrast to the educational thrust of exhibitions in the encyclopaedically planned museum or the overwhelming art expositions of biennials and similar events.
In an official statement, Klaus Schrenk, General Director of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, declared: Königsklasse is an alternative to the museum in the city and is presented on one of the most beautiful and due to the architectural interventions most impressive islands in the country. Thanks to invaluable private-sector funding, we are delighted to be able to extend the successful pilot project of last summer and are hoping to see the long-term realization of this meaningful project with the support of the Free State of Bavaria. This splendid rural setting, so popular with tourists, allows us to generate interest, among a new visitor demographic, in the art treasures of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen and the important work that we do. The endeavour sees us forming new organizational partnerships and, due to the sites proximity to Salzburg, reaching a museum-going, international festival public beyond the confines of Munich.
Bernd Schreiber, President of the Bavarian Department of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens, and Lakes, invites all visitors to partake in this unmissable art experience: Come and experience the idyllic setting of the island, now charged with this electrifying dialogue between the architecture and the art. The ambience of this exceptional exhibition venue can be felt in every one of the bare-brick rooms in the New Palaces north wing. There is certainly no more stunning place in which to display world-class works of art in the whole of Bavaria. What makes this experience unique is the island location, the stunning views glimpsed through every window, the enduring presence of Ludwig II, and the exposed brick walls, which brilliantly compliment the modern works on show.
Corinna Thierolf, initiator of the Königsklasse project, stated: The enormous resonance among the general public, appreciative of this opportunity to see such high-calibre art at Herrenchiemsee, is attested by the visitor numbers, with some 160,000 visitors counted last year alone. Our visitor books from 2013 contain comments from visitors from Asia, the US, and the Arabian Peninsula, as well as from the local region and Europe, and all of them encourage us to continue with what we have achieved so far. It is now clear to all those involved that Herreninsel has the potential to be an arena of international spirit of community and communication, of the kind only available in major cities. As such, it is crying out to be used.
The Königsklasse exhibition was produced in close collaboration with the Bavarian Department of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens, and Lakes.