The new centerpiece: With the classification of Gulbransson's life stages, Andrea Bambi (pictured) and Sandra Spiegler dared to look at the artist from new perspectives in the new concept. © Thomas Plettenberg
New concept, new perspectives: On the occasion of Olaf Gulbransson's 150th birthday on Friday, the permanent exhibition in the museum dedicated to him in Tegernsee has been renewed. She also devotes herself to the contradictions of the artist.
Tegernsee – Andrea Bambi, consultant of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung for the Staatsgalerie Tegernsee, and museum employee Sandra Spiegler worked on the concept and implementation for a quarter of a year, and on Friday evening the new facility was opened with a ceremony (report follows). It itself opens up new perspectives on the artist from Norway, who lived the last third of his life until his death in 1958 at Lake Tegernsee, his "Bavarian fjord".
In the renovated old wing of the museum, created by architect Sep Ruf, the permanent exhibition is dedicated to Gulbransson's biographical classification – without being afraid to touch on his contradictions. Not that of the strong nature boy who created such subtle, often delicate art. Rather, it is that of the artist who helped shape the satirical magazine Simplicissimus and yet came to terms with the Third Reich.
In 1933, the Nazis had closed an exhibition of Gulbransson's work, probably due to a caricature. "When his exhibition closes, he knows there are only two directions: either I run or I go," Bambi explains. "He decided to run along." Fellow artists reviled the Norwegian from Tegernsee as a collaborator after a campaign against Thomas Mann, for which Gulbransson had given himself up and which ultimately drove Mann into exile.
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The exhibition was due to deal with Gulbransson's opportunism in the Third Reich. "Our visitors want to talk about it, and it's also typical for this time that there are both," says Bambi. Gulbransson was friends with the Jewish artist Max Liebermann as well as with the writer Ludwig Thoma, who spread anti-Semitic agitation under a pseudonym. This ambivalence is part of his biography, says Bambi. "He lived through empire to democracy, two countries, two world wars." Meanwhile, Gulbransson was spared the battle, in the Second World War he was too old, in the First he was not drafted as a propaganda draftsman.
Gulbransson, the opportunist, "we look clearly in the eye, and we document that in the exhibition," says Bambi. "Nevertheless, we have an artistic oeuvre that endures."
Man Gulbransson: The permanent exhibition is dedicated to the artist's biography in the side aisle. © Thomas Plettenberg
The new centerpiece of the permanent exhibition opens Gulbransson's life stations and companions as if in a kind of life map. It shows the Norwegian's path to Bavaria, the role of his second wife Grete, who introduced him to the Schwabing art scene, and his third wife Dagny, who profitably pulled the strings while her husband concentrated entirely on art. And it depicts the key moments of his work that established his enduring importance: with images from the "24 Caricatures" (1901, Oslo) and the "Famous Contemporaries" (1905, Munich). The paper drawings – like those in the Simplicissimus section of the permanent exhibition – have to be replaced by other copies every three months, because otherwise the light would be too them.
Gulbransson's book illustrations are also on display, exemplified by Hans-Christian Andersen's "Thumbellieschen" and Thomas's "Lausbubengeschichten". They are bundled in one film, only the screen did not arrive in time for the opening – delivery problems.
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The new perspectives are good for the museum. "Monothematic museums in particular are a challenge," Bambi knows: Creativity is needed to attract visitors again and again.
The Gulbransson Museum in the Tegernsee spa garden is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 17 p.m., and at Pentecost also on Mondays. Admission costs twelve euros for adults. Information on the homepage of the museum.