The fact that Germany is known as the country of “The Land of Poets and Thinkers” is testament to the fact that it is a country rich of science and arts. Mostly, this is due to its history and also location (in the heart of Europe).
- Many of you may know German art was created during major periods such as the during the middle age, baroque or renaissance periods, whether it is great architecture, paintings, music or even literature.
- What would the world be without Goethe or Schiller – two of the greatest German writers?
- Who of you doesn’t know the castle Schwanstein or the Cologne Cathedral?
- Who of you doesn’t know about the famous painters Caspar David Friedrich (Zwei Männer in Betrachtung des Mondes), Albrecht Dürer (Betende Hände) or Carl Spitzweg (Der arme Poet)?
However, there are also art forms, artists and trends that are less known.
Here are a few interesting artsy tidbits:
In ~1460 a man names Tilman Riemenschneider was born in Heiligenstadt, a small town in Thuringia. He would soon become one of the most famous sculptors and woodcarvers of his time. At the age of approx. 12, he started his travels to learn the craft of sculptoring. He settled down in Würzburg, a town in Southern Germany, in 1483. Through the marriage to his first wife Anna Schmidt, Riemenschneider finally was able to become finally stable and consequently a master craftsman. By the age of 40, he had developed an outstanding reputation as an artist. The most remarkable feature of his work is the expressiveness in the faces of his sculptures. Beautifully sculptured wooden altars in churches across Germany are the result of Tilman Riemenschneider‘s amazing craftsmanship.
Little known fact: When you visit Germany next time, make sure to stop by the Mainfränkisches Museum in the Marienberg citadel in Würzburg to admire some of his work. With 81 pieces, this museum hosts the largest collection of Riemenschnieder‘s work.
The Bauhaus Group
The Bauhaus style, founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 is one of those interesting art trends. It is considered the home of avant-garde and classical modern style. Gropius’ vision was to have a clear, transparent and functional architectural style.
The first home and art school of the Bauhaus group was the Van de Velde building in Weimar, Thuringia. By the way, Van de Velde was the designer of this building.
Not only architects such as Gropius and Van de Velde created works in the Bauhaus style, but also painters like Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger.
After the move to Dessau, the Bauhaus style also included furniture and other functional items. It was the first time in history that design was not a luxury anymore but for the needs of the average people. Based on that, the Bauhaus group created a close relationship with industrial manufacturing before the outbreak of WWII.
The Nazi regime in Germany considered Bauhaus left-wing intellectuals. After another move to Berlin Lankwitz in 1932, the Bauhaus group had to close down the art and design school. Many members immigrated to other countries over the following years.
Little known fact: Did you know that Tel Aviv has over 4,000 buildings in the Bauhaus style? The ‘White City’ was named by UNESCO a world cultural heritage site because of the largest collection of Bauhaus architecture in this city.
Hundertwasser buildings in Germany
Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an Austrian artist, painter and architect. His unique architectural building style left its mark all over the German speaking countries. He was passionate about living in harmony with nature. Therefore his style combined nature and quality of life, preferring natural, flowing shapes as compared to strict geometrical forms, e.g. rectangular or square.
At the age of 52, Hundertwassser started designing buildings. Here is a list of buildings to admire by town/location:
- Selb: Rosenthal factory
- Frankfurt-Heddernheim: Hundertwasser child care center
- Hamm: ecological house at Maximilian Park
- Bad Soden am Taunus: In den Wiesen (In the Meadows)
- Plochingen am Neckar: Wohnen unterm Regenturm (Living under the Rain Tower)
- Lutherstadt Wittenberg: Luther-Melanchthon-Gymnasium
- Ottensen: Town Café Ottensen
- Darmstadt: Waldspirale (Forest Spiral)
- Uelzen: Hundertwasser Train Station
- Wülfrath: Dome at the day care center Düsseler Tor
- Magdeburg: Grüne Zitadelle
- Essen/Grugapark: Ronald McDonald House
- Abensberg: Hundertwasser Tower
More buildings can be found across the globe, in Austria, Switzerland, Israel, USA, Japan and New Zealand.
He was an extremely versatile artist, who not only designed buildings but stamps, flags, books, porcelain objects and even a compost toilet.
Due to his extravagant lifestyle, he died penniless in 2000.
Here is one example of a Hundertwasser building in Darmstadt. Check out why people love it and what the challenges are (with English subtitles):