Dr. Corinna Thierolf leaves Pinakothek der Moderne

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Dr. Corinna Thierolf leaves Pinakothek der Moderne
Corinna Thierolf. Photo: Haydar Koyupinar, 2018.

MUNICH.- After more than 25 years of working for the museum, Corinna Thierolf is seeking out new professional challenges. She is one of the founding curators of the Pinakothek der Moderne, which opened in 2002, and has played a key role in shaping the face of the museum through her acquisitions, exhibitions, publications and her rousing public engagement.

Her work with the collection lay at the heart of her professional endeavours. She systematically expanded the cornerstones that had been laid since the 1960s in the form of the collection held by Prince Franz of Bavaria, acquisitions by the former Galerie-Verein and state acquisitions. She compared the growing collection to the changeable body of sound produced by a large orchestra, with the various ‘solos’ of the artists’ rooms she acquired forming one of the unique elements of the museum. They enable visitors to experience how artists developed throughout their creative years, as in the case of Joseph Beuys, Georg Baselitz, Hans Hofmann, Jörg Immendorff, Anselm Kiefer, Astrid Klein, Imi Knoebel, Arnulf Rainer, and Richard Tuttle. In the case of Dan Flavin, Wolfgang Laib, Donald Judd, Walter de Maria, and Fred Sandback, the installations are designed by the artists themselves in line with the ‘one work – one room’ principle. Within the broader context of the collection, they form ‘places’ that bring together the space, the work and the viewer in meaningful ways, thereby continuing modes of action that had previously been developed in early secular and sacred architecture.

Given the squeeze on public budgets, the acquisitions mentioned above could only be undertaken because Corinna Thierolf became one of the most inventive and successful fundraisers in the country. On her initiative, the ‘American Patrons of the Pinakothek Trust’ was formed in the USA in 2005, followed by the creation of the German association ‘International Patrons of the Pinakothek’ in 2010. Both offered support to the State Painting Collections, as well as the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, for major acquisitions: Gustav Klimt, Jacques Lipchitz, Philip Guston, Robert Mangold and Al Taylor, as well as Fabienne Verdier and Jerry Zeniuk. Thanks to Corinna Thierolf’s commitment, they both supported young scholars, too, partly through international exchange, as part of a scheme offering eight multi-year positions for guest curators and research assistants. Fruitful collaboration with artists and galleries, with private collectors such as Bernd and Verena Klüser and many who wish to remain unnamed, offered an irreplaceable complement to these initiatives. Furthermore, her successful collaboration with foundations such as the Ars Europa Foundation, the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne and the Michael & Eleonore Stoffel Stiftung, the Written Art Collection and, last but not least, the ‘Freundeskreis PIN. Freunde der Pinakothek der Moderne’ deserves a mention, and our gratitude.

The curator’s numerous exhibitions were milestones within these developments. We recall the museum’s minimalist transformation by Fred Sandback (2004) and Dan Flavin (2006), our encounters with encyclopaedic abundance in Joseph Beuys’ ‘Multiples’ (2014), and the impressive John Chamberlain exhibition that opened our eyes to the continued impact of the sculptural language of drapery in the American artist’s crashed metal sculptures (2011). With ‘American Summer’ (2009), Corinna Thierolf successfully brought together all the collections represented in the Pinakothek der Moderne. As the initiator of the ‘Königsklasse’ summer exhibitions at Herrenchiemsee Palace, which began in 2013, she created new paths for the development of the cultural landscape that were as ground-breaking as they were poetic and combined town and country, history and present, civilisation and nature.

Her numerous publications are dedicated to the above artists and to overarching issues. Examples of her published work include her enlightening studies of the hitherto largely hidden ‘Catholic Things’ in the work of Andy Warhol (1998 and other years) and her compendium ‘Amerikanische Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts’ (2000). She edited the writings of the ‘overpainter’ Arnulf Rainer (2010) and wrote the Catalogue Raisonné (2013) on John Cage’s main visual work, the Ryoanji drawings. To wrap things up, it is worth mentioning her 2018 publication ‘It is the Art that Speaks”, in which she records the influential work that Heiner Friedrich, the co-founder of the New York Dia Art Foundation and former owner of a Munich-based gallery, undertook throughout his life in service of art in the form of her conversations with him since the 1990s.

Corinna Thierolf is leaving the Bavarian State Painting Collections at her own request to take on new challenges. Bernhard Maaz, Director-General of the Bavarian State Painting Collections, says: ‘I regret Ms Thierolf’s decision to leave the museum, but I truly understand that, with all her talents and her enthusiastic and inspiring creativity, she wants to explore new horizons as a curator and a scholar. Her skilful strategies for building up our holdings will leave lasting traces on the museum’s collection; we are all very grateful for this. Thanks to her vision and her academic rigour, great things have been created and great things lie ahead. We wish her the very best.’

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