'DIE KRAFTPROBE' (TRIAL OF STRENGHT). 200th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS IN MUNICH ('Die Kraftprobe' (Próba sil). Jubileusz 200-lecia Akademii Sztuk Pieknych w Monachium)
In 2008 Munich celebrated the 850th anniversary of the town and the 200th anniversary of the local Academy of Fine Arts. The accompanying exhibition entitled 'Die Kraftprobe' (Trial of strength) and presenting 200 years of the Academy's accomplishments, was shown at Hause der Kunst from 30 May to 31 August 2008. The show opened with a painting by Franz Defregger, aptly entitled 'Die Kraftprobe' and depicting a Tyrolean youth testing his strength by lifting a boulder and surrounded by village observers. This confrontation of the forces of tradition and modernity involved academic recognition for historical painting and the thematic interests of the artists. It also reflected a clash of art undergoing a process of democratisation and its elevation, characteristic for academic currents. The oeuvre of artists connected with the Academy was echoed in the emergence of national identity and the historical genre, typical for the nineteenth century. This was the prime reason why young artists from Eastern, Central and Northern Europe decided to study in Munich. The showroom opening the exposition displayed also works by several women, such as Maria Electrina von Freyberg, Louise Seidler, Elisabeth Ney, or Barbara Popp. All originate from the first stage in the development of the Academy when female students were permitted to attend courses (up to 1840). The presentation of art created at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich was initiated with a display composed of works by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Peter von Cornelius, Carl Schnorn, Wilhelm von Kobell, Johann Georg von Dillis, Karl Piloty and his students as well as Gyula Benczura and Alexander Wagner. The K. Piloty studio was the destination of many Poles, and Wagner taught some sixty Polish students. The exposition was comprised of national showrooms: Polish, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Baltic, etc. The conspicuous features of the Polish showroom included subtle themes, excellent workshop skills, sophisticated colouristic solutions, and the ambience or dynamics of particular works, such as 'Stanczyk' by Jan Matejkio, five water colours from the Resurrection series by Zofia Stryjenska or the compositions by Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski, Jozef Brandt, Aleksander and Maksymilian Gierymski, Wladyslaw Czachorski and Julian Falat. The visitor was struck by the prevalence of the historical genre - paintings by Croatian, Slovenian, Bulgarian and Serbian artists as a rule portrayed the most dramatic and bloody fragments of their national history. All told, the exposition was dominated by nineteenth-century painting featured under the slogan:'Anziehung und Ausstralung' (Attraction and radiation), although it also included canvases by Vassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Franz Marc, or Giorgio de Chirico, testifying that the Munich Academy welcomed the new artistic currents of the twentieth century. The organisers did not ignore the Nazi period, controversial in the history of the Academy, and featured a bronze head of Adolf Hitler by Bernhard Bleeker and other purely propaganda works. Modern art was shown under the motto: 'Leuchtturme und Irrlichter' (The lighthouse and ignes fatui), which evoked assorted quests and misleading paths.
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