Pinakothek Shows Beate Kuhn

The German ceramist's work is shown at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich

Beate Kuhn (1927-2015) was one of Germany's major postwar ceramists. Remarkably, her designs became brighter and more playful, the later in the artist's life they were made.

Object, 1998. Stoneware.

Object, 1998. Stoneware.

The Pinakothek der Moderne museum in Munich is showing an exhibition on Beate Kuhn (1927-2015), one of Germany's pre-eminent postwar ceramic artists (until 19 November).

The exhibition presents 160 pieces made by Kuhn collected by the Mannheim architect Klaus Freiberger and which he recently donated to the Pinakothek, along with ceramics made by other artists. His collection encompasses 2000 pieces.

Group, 1965. Stoneware.

Group, 1965. Stoneware.

Beate Kuhn was born in Düsseldorf to a sculptor father and a pianist mother. She studied in Freiburg and learned the ceramics making at Erika Opitz und Hans Karl Starke in the Wiesbaden Crafts School.

After school, Kuhn established a joint workshop with other ceramic artists and later also a woodcarver, first in Lottstetten at Germany's border to Switzerland border and later at Büdingen, 200 kilometers further north.

Object, 1965. Stoneware.

Object, 1965. Stoneware.

Paralel to her artistic work, Kuhn designed during 1953-57 articles for the porcelain manufacturing company Rosenthal. In 1960 she gave up designing for commercial purposes and worked only artistically.

Kuhn has said to have drawn her inspiration from music as well as from nature. Her creations reflect a development from rough, geometrical form and earthly colours in her beginnings (see photos above of her pieces from 1965).

Small family in semi-circle, 1988. Sotoneware.

Small family in semi-circle, 1988. Sotoneware.

With time, Kuhn's work changed into ever more playful forms and colours, like the Small family in semi-circle (1988) (photo above), the Trees in front of the sky (1991), the Cloudvessel (1997) and Winged (2007) (photos below), as well as her Object in green and blue made in 1998 (title photo).

Trees in front of the sky, 1991. Stoneware.

Trees in front of the sky, 1991. Stoneware.

Cloudvessel, 1997. Stoneware.

Cloudvessel, 1997. Stoneware.

In other words, the most bright and playful pieces stem from the later work of the artist, showing that Kuhn managed, helped by her art, to stay young spiritually.

Winged, 2007. Stoneware.

Winged, 2007. Stoneware.

Today, ceramics has become an established art form. It is used both by sculptors like Ronald Nagle of the US and by all-round artists such as Ai Weiwei, who is China's best-known artist.

Pinakothek der Moderne is Munich's main museum for 20th century and contemporary art. It's building, designed by Stephan Braunfels, was opened in 2002 (photo below). The neighbouring so-called Neue Pinakothek contains 19th century art and the Alte Pinakothek classical art. All three have a joint director and form part of the Munich Kunstareal, an area comprising 12 different museums.

Lobby of the Pinakothek der Moderne. The exhibition is installed on the first floor and makes use of the round railing

Lobby of the Pinakothek der Moderne. The exhibition is installed on the first floor and makes use of the round railing