The Buchheim Museum is located north of Bernried in Höhenried Park, directly on the banks of Lake Starnberg. The path from the visitors' parking area (on the state roadway 2063) to the museum is lined with old trees, charming ponds, pagodas, as well as works fashioned out of wood and metal.
The Architecture – A Home for the Buchheim Collections
For the collections of Lothar-Günther Buchheim – painter, photographer, publisher, author of art books and novels – architect Günter Behnisch has designed an open and multi-segmental structure that reflects the museum's extraordinary diversity. The legendary core of the collection, works of Expressionism predominantly by the artists' group "Brücke" (1905–1913), are shown in spacious halls. The more intimate rooms of the "towers" are reserved for the collections of folk art and ethnological artistry, as well as for Buchheim's own work. A unique architectural feature is the deck that is suspended twelve-meters high over the lake, providing museum visitors with a view of the town of Starnberg and the Alps.
Four Museums under One Roof
For nearly 40 years, Buchheim has pursued a museum concept that reverses conventional divisions – a painting gallery, a graphic arts gallery, a European crafts collection and a museum for ethnological art – and seeks to mix and connect the individual, yet richly interrelated collection areas: a pan-cultural encounter and an exciting dialogue between the art of the Expressionists and their inspirational sources from Africa and the South Seas.
Masterpieces of Expressionism
Buchheim's collection, which was essentially compiled in the 1950's, encompasses an extraordinarily wide spectrum of outstanding Expressionist art.
At the heart of the collection are paintings, watercolors, drawings, woodcuts, etchings and lithographs by artists of the group "Brücke", which included the artists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, as well as Max Pechstein, Emil Nolde and Otto Mueller, who joined the group briefly. After an initial late-impressionistic approach, the artists developed an expressive visual language, which is characterized by simplified, daring forms, monumentality and vivid colors, and was inspired by African and South Sea art, as well as by the works of Gauguin, van Gogh, Munch, the "Fauves" and early woodcuts.
The holdings found in the Buchheim collection not only provide an impressive overview of "Brücke" art, which marks the beginning of modern art in Germany. Interrelatedness and characteristic differences between the individual artists are highlighted, as is the link between drawings, woodcuts and paintings.
Groups of works by Lovis Corinth, Max Beckmann and Oskar Kokoschka complement the "Brücke" art, as do works from the ensuing so-called second Expressionist generation. Water-colors and graphic arts by Otto Dix form a bridge to Veristic art. Since the worldwide exhibition tour in the early 1980's, the Buchheim collection of Expressionist art has enjoyed international recognition.
An Artist's Collection
Full appreciation for Buchheim's "chamber of art and curiosities" is best achieved through understanding Lothar-Günther Buchheim himself, since Buchheim – already as a young boy a gifted painter – is a visual person. What he visually perceives not only becomes subject matter for his paintings and photographs, but also for his novels. Observing provides him with the opportunity to experience and understand the world. With each new piece that finds its way into his collection, he conquers new territory. Buchheim does not collect, he discovers. He is not dependent on the need to classify art as "valuable" or "worthless", or to categorize it as "high" or "inferior". Nor does he restrict himself to specializing in only one or a few areas. Buchheim is open to the richness of life. And never ceases to be amazed by the variety of natural forms and unbounded inventiveness of mankind.
The Living Museum – Rotation of Works, Special Exhibitions and Events
A single visit to the museum reveals only a fraction of what it really has to offer. The holdings are so diverse and extensive, that the museum can continually exhibit new works from the areas of Expressionism, classic French modern art (Picasso, Braque, Léger, Chagall…), "outsider art", as well as works of folk and ethnological art. Along with shows of works on paper in the Expressionist galleries, which rotate several times a year, there are wide-ranging special exhibitions, as well as first-rate gallery presentations. Guided tours, talks, workshops and other events are offered to round out the themes presented at the Buchheim Museum.
Folklore and Ethnological Exhibits
The kaleidoscope of folk art and ethnological artistry includes glass paintings, carousel animal figures, fêtes foraines, hundreds of glass paperweights; furniture, ceramics, textiles, glass and jewelry from Asia, South America and Europe; masks, sculptures and other cult objects from Africa and the South Seas; a vast amount of popular printed works and much, much more ...
Along with Buchheim's "Circus Buffi" and Diethild Buchheim's "Ditti’s menagerie of leaf pictures", there is "outsider art" with works by self-taught artists, such as the virtuoso wood sculptor Hans Schmitt, the folk artist Max Raffler, the ventriloquist Muskat and the Parisian naive artist Hector Trotin.
Although it is difficult to find a common thread running through Buchheim's unique, all-embracing collection cosmos, his enthusiasm for direct, strongly expressive, vividly colorful and intricately crafted works suggests a possible path through this creative "chaos".