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Lenbachhaus Munich: Günter Fruhtrunk, the Paris Years (1954-1967) | 21.11.2023-7.04.2024

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From 21 November, the Lehnbachhaus in Munich is devoting itself to the Paris years (1954-1967) of the German painter and graphic artist Günter Fruhtrunk. The exhibition illuminates his explosive phase of life and work in the context of Franco-German art relations in the 1950s and 60s. At the same time, the Kunstmuseum Bonn is presenting a Günter Fruhtrunk retrospective, which will later be shown at the Museum Wiesbaden.

Fig. above: Günter Fruhtrunk, Reversing Row, Étude No 4, 1962/1963, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau Munich, Foto / Photo: Lenbachhaus © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2022

In 1981, a caricature that has become famous appears in the magazine “Stern”: Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, in the midst of the East-West conflict, sits, between vodka and coke, on the sofa in the Chancellor’s bungalow – under a painting by Günter Fruhtrunk. A year before his death, Fruhtrunk, a professor at the Munich Academy, was considered a leading representative of concrete art in the Federal Republic. His design for the Aldi-Nord bag captivates with its noncommittal conciseness – and does not remain a German design icon for nothing.

Yet Fruhtrunk’s career had begun decades earlier in France: From the French occupation zone, during the early 1950s, he does everything he can to find his own form in Paris, amidst the most innovative representatives of a painting free of objects. He succeeded in moving there in 1954 and stayed until his appointment to Munich in 1967 and beyond. With extreme precision and patience, he develops paintings that are meant to be free of the artist’s personal or interpretive demands, wanting only to depict “articulated chromatic texture with the highest power of light”. He is concerned with nothing less than the “freeness of seeing”.

Günter Fruhtrunk, Gestaltung ins Quadrat, 1959, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München, Foto / Photo: Lenbachhaus © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2022

He is supported by influential veterans of the pre-war avant-garde and represented by the Denise René Gallery, which brings together the most uncompromising standard-bearers of constructive abstraction. Fruhtrunk tirelessly expanded his transnational network of artists, critics, philosophers and gallery owners. His first solo exhibitions took place in Paris, Milan and Marseille, and from France he opened up a German audience.

The exhibition is dedicated to this explosive phase of Fruhtrunk’s life and work in the context of Franco-German art relations in the 1950s and 60s. Approximately 40 works with which he presented himself to the public at the time make their visual experience comprehensible.


Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau Munich
Luisenstrasse 33
80333 Munich


Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays: 10-18 h
Thursday: 10-20 h
Monday: closed


Regular: 10 euros
Reduced: 5 euros

The audio guide is included in the price.

Every first Thursday of the month
from 6 to 10 p.m. free admission

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