Care for a “Sculptour” in a Modern Art Hotspot?

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"Prinzipalmarkt in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

Münster is one of western Germany’s most favourite day trip destinations and also happens to be a modern art hotspot.

People from the region and beyond like to come here partly to experience the town’s ancient and interesting history: in 1535, the Siege of Münster ended the tyrannical regime of the eccentric Jan van Leiden, a sort of medieval Pol Pot, and in 1648, this was where the Peace of Westphalia was negotiated and signed, ending the Thirty Years’ War.

Part of Münster’s popularity with day trippers is also due to its great number of urban beauty spots, such as a picturesque lake and an inner-city tree-lined walkway (the Promenade which traces the old city walls).

Above all, however, it comes down to the post-war city fathers who had the courage of defying the architectural orthodoxy of the time. Instead of razing down what was still standing after the near-total destruction of the town centre in WWII, they rebuilt – as best as they could – the city as it had been before.

"Facades in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

In 2015, 8 million visitors strolled through what is today a thriving commercial and academic centre – while the grimly functional “city centres of tomorrow” in neighbouring towns are largely empty these days, accommodating little besides one-Euro shops and fast-food outlets.

And just to rub it in, Münster has also become one of Europe’s hotspots for outdoor modern art.

Under the Münster Sculpture Projects, artists from all over the world have been invited every ten years – since 1977 – to create works that relate to the city, its history and its social as well as architectural fabric.

"a sculpture by Moore reflected in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

Most of these works are still standing in the places for which they were originally conceived and are concentrated in and around the city centre. So during a half-day walk, you can not only familiarize yourself with works by some of the world’s most famous sculptors but also see and find out more about one of Germany’s most handsome and most interesting towns.

Begin your “Sculptour” in modern art hotspot Münster

Start at the central railway station, cross Bahnhofsstrasse into Windhorststrasse where, in the public garden on the left hand side, you will see the Rotating Rectangles by George Rickey, one of the founders of Kinetic Art, a movement that aims to “harmonize inert material with the living dynamics of nature”.

"Rotating Rectangles by George Rickey in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

Continue up the same street past Thomas Schütte’s Cherry Column …

"Thomas Schütte’s Cherry Column in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

… before turning right into Loerstrasse and Loergasse for the secluded square beween two churches (St Clement and St Servatius). This is where Otto Freundlich’s Ascension has been placed, a sculpture that was not originally conceived for the project (Freundlich died in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII) but was cast in bronze for the very first edition of Münster Skulpturen.

"Otto Freundlich’s Ascension in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

Turn back towards the town centre for the courtyard of the historic City Hall and Eduardo Chillida’s Tolerance Through Dialogue, the artist’s homage to the Peace Treaty of 1648 that was negotiated here.

"Eduardo Chillida’s Tolerance Through Dialogue in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

On the other side of Prinzipalmarkt, the city’s historic main street, you can see the tower of St Lambert Church with the cages of the three Anabaptist leaders: after their execution, their corpses were displayed here to show what happened to those who dared to defy the power of the Catholic Church. For the 1987 project, Lothar Baumgarten put a light in each cage, calling the arrangement “Three Will-o’-the-Wisps”. (No, I can’t see them either. Remind me to come back here after dark.)

"cages of the three Anabaptist leaders by Lothar Baumgarten in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

Turn left into Cathedral Square for the Westphalian Museum for Art, the original initiator of the project. The facade of the building is adorned by two of the project’s major works: the Structural Constellations by Josef Albers, a “local boy” who emigrated in 1933 to find artistic fame and fortune in the US …

"Structural Constellations by Josef Albers in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

… and Otto Piene’s Silver Frequency.

"Otto Piene’s Silver Frequency in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

A little further on your right hand side, you can find Dennis Adams’s two-sided Bus Shelter IV that shows photos from the Klaus Barbie trial (the Nazi “Butcher of Lyon”): one of his lawyer, one of a group of spectators. This is meant to illustrate the existence of different points of view and also serves as a reference to the near-by Law Faculty of Münster University.

"Dennis Adams’s two-sided Bus Shelter IV in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

Walk back to the Cathedral Square and turn left into the footpath that leads you to the Law Faculty, passing (on your left) Siah Armajani’s Study Garden …

"Siah Armajani’s Study Garden in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

… and then St Peter’s Church with Ulrick Rückriem’s monumental Dolomite Cut right opposite.

"Ulrick Rückriem’s Dolomite Cut in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

Before you cross the small river, turn right on the footpath for the Theological Faculty and Giovanni Anselmo’s Foreshortened Sky which attempts to “shorten the incomprehensible altitude of the sky by a measured amount”. The post itself bears the engraving: “The sky should know that it is now one metre less far away.”

"Giovanni Anselmo’s Foreshortened Sky in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

Cross the small river now for the courtyard of the Law Faculty and Harald Klingelhöller’s The Meadow Laughs which reflects – in organic shapes – some of the patterns formed by the surrounded buildings, contrasting Human Law with the Law of Nature.

"Harald Klingelhöller’s The Meadow Laughs in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

This is where the “sculptour” through the historical Old Town of Münster ends. It may be a good idea to return to the town centre now for lunch: you can find modern chain restaurants there as well as old-style German pubs with a more local and traditional cuisine.

We personally recommend the Altes Gasthaus Lewe on Alter Steinweg, incidentally located near one of the other project sculptures that we have so far failed to mention (for a full list, see here), Tom Otterness’s Superwoman at the City Library.

"Tom Otterness’s Superwoman in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

At any rate, we shall return to Münster’s Sculptures later in the summer when the focus will be on urban beauty spots rather than on history and architecture – with works by Donald Judd, Henry Moore and Claes Oldenburg.

"Claes Oldenburg's Billiard Balls in Muenster a modern art hotspot"

See you in summer for our next “Sculptour” in Modern Art Hotspot Muenster!

Have a read of the other walks and hikes we’ve done in Germany. And don’t fail to  join us in our next walk. Subscribe to our updates via email or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Why not include us in your G+ circles too?


2 comments to Care for a “Sculptour” in a Modern Art Hotspot?

  • The visit to these pieces are actually best done with bikes, Emiel. Next time you’re in town, you can download the map to see the locations of these sculptures.

  • Hi! We have visited Münster 3 years ago with our kids (it’s a 1.5 hour drive from our hometown). We indeed loved the historic center, very easy and convenient to go around by bike. Our kids loved the weekend. Unfortunately we didn’t realize that the sculptures were all around. We only saw the one next to the library, I recall when I saw your picture. Some of the sculptures honestly speaking do look a bit worn out but having them all together always creates a nice collection!

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