Brandhorst Museum: Andy Warhol and…Genital Art

Brandhorst museum
Andreas Lechtape ©Museum Brandhorst

I’m stood in one of the white and yet warm galleries of the Brandhorst Museum, staring at the piece of art that’s in front of me. On an otherwise off-white canvas, there are splashes of paint – yellow and red – trickling all the way down to the bottom in lines. A well-dressed woman who’s wearing her black spectacles on the top of her head is regarding another piece in the same room. She starts frantically making notes in her black Moleskine notepad while stealing quick glances at the painting. More splashes on a canvas. I take another look at the piece I was studying. I want to get it; I really do. But I don’t. So I nod my head, as if I’m having a silent ‘eureka’ moment, and I walk to the next room.

museum brandhorst

Works by Monika Baer, Amy Sillman and Jutta Koether Photo: Haydar Koyupinar © Museum Brandhorst

While I cannot claim to be an art aficionado (well, I won’t try to) I do love visiting galleries. Sometimes I ‘enjoy’ the art, sometimes I don’t. Generally, I like work that brings about some sort of emotional reaction in me; I’ve enjoyed modern art before, but I was having difficulty connecting to anything in the Brandhorst Museum.

The museum houses a collection of art amassed by Udo Brandhorst and his wife Anette. The works consist of drawings and sculptures; more recently, photographs, multimedia works and installations have also been added. According to the website, the museum has a mixture of classical avant-garde work, as well as post-war European modernist and American art. There are 100 exhibits by Andy Warhol, and apparently there is no other European collection that has a comparable number of his works.

A dizzying building

As you’ll see from the photos, the Brandhorst Museum building is an interesting structure that looks like an abstract painting – rather apt considering the collections that are housed within. The rods that you see on the surface are finished in 23 different coloured glazes that fall into three groups of shades and tonality. The effect is such that the surface of the building seems to alter depending on which angle you’re looking at it from – for example, from an angle they look like they form a smooth surface, but when you look at it head on, the horizontally emphasised background becomes the dominant feature. Pretty cool!

And yes, I enjoyed taking ‘arty’ photos of it.

museum brandhorst

Arty farty

Checking out the building and its dizzying facade was my favourite part of the experience. This being Germany – a country that takes environmental sustainability seriously – I wasn’t surprised to find out that the structure has a lot of ecological features, too. For example, daylight is used to the fullest through various features, such as luminous ceilings that distribute diffuse daylight to the galleries below.

Andy Warhol mania

While inside, I moved from room to room trying to find a piece that would bring out some sort of reaction in me other than “I don’t get it.” I did enjoy Warhol’s collection, which includes classics such as a screenprint of Marilyn Monroe, as well as one of his interpretations of the Rorschach ink blot tests. There was also a small gallery dedicated to feminism, which I enjoyed.

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Works by Manfred Kuttner and Konrad Lueg Photo: Haydar Koyupinar © Museum Brandhorst

Genital art

As I continued to meander in the hope that I’d find more works that I liked, I came across a TV monitor that was affixed to the wall. From the distance, all I could make out was that it was displaying hair. As I got closer, however, the reality started to dawn on me. This was hair of the pubic variety. Now, I know Germans are known to be rather relaxed about nudity, but I’m British; we like to conceal our genitals, thank you very much. I moved on rather swiftly and I continued to feel like an immature adolescent when I came across a painting of Alice in Wonderland with her head up a woman’s who-ha.

No, I don’t get it. And no, I don’t even want to. Then again, I did have an emotional reaction to these pieces  – one of shock and embarrassment. Perhaps that was the point?

Brandhorst Museum is located in what is known as the city’s art district, and I’ve since discovered that the Neue Pinakothek Museum, which is one of the most important museums of 19th-century art in the world, is just a three-minute walk from Brandhorst. That looks much more like my kind of museum – but you live and you learn.

As for Brandhorst, despite the fact I didn’t really get most of the pieces that I saw, I’d still recommend you check it out especially if a) you like contemporary art, particularly that of American artists, and b) you happen to be in town on a Sunday when you can enjoy the cheaper than chips €1 entrance fee. As for the genital art – I’d give that a miss.


The Essentials

  • The Brandhorst Museum is located in Munich’s art district, Kunstareal.
  • A slow look around the museum should take you around an hour and a half.
  • Admission costs €12; only €1 on Sundays – I’d recommend trying to go then if you happen to be in town over the weekend.


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Museum Brandhorst


Have you ever had mixed feelings about a museum?