Passionately inspired

Inspiring, passionate and open – this is how Simone Schimpf imagines the Neues Museum in Nuremberg. Since July 2021 she has been the director of the State Museum of Art and Design. If you take the abundance of exhibitions that the house puts on every year as a benchmark, the three terms already apply to the house on Klarissenplatz. Schimp shakes his head. “We don’t convey that enough,” she says, adding that the corporate identity is far too reserved. Apart from that, the doctor of art history feels extremely comfortable in Nuremberg. She is very happy here, she says. “Every time I walk through the museum, I’m so happy to have a working house with such great architecture.”

This is understandable, considering that Schimpf headed the Museum für Konkrete Kunst in Ingolstadt from 2013 to 2021 and, like her predecessor, hoped to see the opening of the new building there. That didn’t work out, there’s still a construction site in Ingolstadt. Schimpf follows the various delays with interest, but to her relief only from a distance. As in Ingolstadt, however, in Nuremberg she is also dealing with the question of how she brings together contemporary art and design in the museum in such a way that the areas stimulate and complement each other.

She wants grounding on site, no flown-in projects

The house and the employees are very flexible, says Schimpf. “It’s really great the commitment with which people work here.” Many of the colleagues have been in the museum since it opened in 2000 and identify with the museum. In fact, it’s almost unbelievable how often things are rehung in the Neues Museum, not to mention the numerous special exhibitions running at the same time. “Anyone who comes four times a year always sees something different,” says Schimpf. It is important to her that the exhibitions tie in with her own collection or cover topics that are interesting for the place and region. “I want grounding at the site, no flown-in projects circling like satellites.”

Nuremberg: Moments of a City: Car Park, New York, 1965 by Evelyn Hofer.

Moments in a City: Car Park, New York, 1965 by Evelyn Hofer.

(Photo: Evelyn Hofer, Courtesy Galerie m, Bochum and Estate of Evelyn Hofer)

Nuremberg: Evelyn Hofer: East 69th Street, New York, 1964.

Evelyn Hofer: East 69th Street, New York, 1964.

(Photo: Evelyn Hofer, Courtesy Galerie m, Bochum and Estate of Evelyn Hofer)

The implementation of this principle can be studied well in the current exhibition “Evelyn Hofer meets Richard Lindner”. According to art critic Hilton Kramer, “America’s most famous ‘unknown’ photographer, and the painter, who spent his childhood and youth in Nuremberg, emigrated from Germany during the Nazi era and met in New York. There have already been a number of solo exhibitions on both artists, but the Neues Museum is putting them together for the first time, telling the story of their years in New York and recalling their friendship and love. The focus is on Hofer’s timelessly beautiful New York shots. Skyscrapers, urban canyons, street cruisers, shrill advertising messages and always people, laughing ladies with imposing hats as well as serious-looking workers or artists like their friend Lindner. No spontaneous snapshots. Hofer (1922-2009) wanted to capture the essentials and took a lot of time to do so. Her parents gave up their German citizenship in 1933 and moved first to Spain, then to Switzerland and finally to Mexico. In 1946 Hofer moved to New York to work as a photographer for famous magazines.

Nuremberg: Evelyn Hofer not only photographed the city, but also its inhabitants: Policeman, 59th St., New York, 1964.

But Evelyn Hofer not only photographed the city, but also its residents: Policeman, 59th St., New York, 1964.

(Photo: Evelyn Hofer, Courtesy Galerie m, Bochum and Estate of Evelyn Hofer)

Nuremberg: Evelyn Hofer: Bride with Bouquet of Red Roses, New York, 1974.

Evelyn Hofer, Bride with Bouquet of Red Roses, New York, 1974.

(Photo: Evelyn Hofer, Courtesy Galerie m, Bochum and Estate of Evelyn Hofer)

Lindner (1901-1978), not only a Jew, but also an active party member of the Social Democrats, first fled to Paris in 1933 and crossed over to New York in 1941. He earned his money as a commercial artist. As a painter, he combined the caricature elements of New Objectivity with the dazzling, luminous color surfaces of Pop Art, which he is considered to be the forerunner of. The Lindner originals, which the Neues Museum owns, are among the great treasures of the house. Incidentally, Evelyn Hofer even made it onto his famous painting “The Meeting” (1962), in which the exhibition is only represented as a reproduction – MoMA did not want to lend the picture.

In Nuremberg, the story of the two emigrants is told not only with photos and paintings, but also with toys that Lindner collected and Hofer photographed, as well as other items from Hofer’s estate. In the middle of the show in an imaginary Times Square are tables with postcards that the two wrote to each other. In fact, Lindner also included Franconian dialect words in the messages to his “Schnummelputz”. In the 1950s he told her from Munich that there was no point in showing his pictures here. “Everything is abstract.” A special feature are Hofer’s fruit still lifes, so perfect that in passing you might mistake them for paintings. “Actually, we didn’t want to show the recordings at first, they don’t fit thematically, but then we couldn’t resist,” says Schimpf.

Nuremberg: Evelyn Hofer photographed her friend Richard Lindner in his New York studio in the 1950s.

Evelyn Hofer photographed her friend Richard Lindner in his New York studio in the 1950s.

(Photo: Andreas Pauly/Evelyn Hofer, Courtesy Galerie m, Bochum and Estate of Evelyn Hofer)

In the six rooms on the facade of the museum, works by the Munich collector couple Annette and Rainer Stadler are presented for the first time. The strict aesthetics that unite the works of Gerold Miller, Gregor Hildebrandt, Brigitte Kowanz and Heimo Zobernig are fabulous (until September 11). It is not surprising that these inviting shop windows encourage visitors to come. The museum has now reached the number of visitors before Corona again. 70,000 guests come every year, according to Schimpf a predominantly young audience between 30 and 40 years.

Under her aegis, the museum has reviewed its formats to find out which visitors are reaching well and which are not yet. “We’re not that brilliant with families, but we’re great with school classes,” sums up Schimpf. Therefore, the house now not only organizes the classic, but also its own family vernissages. “It works great,” says Schimpf as she walks through “Double up,” the playful dialogue between art and design on the ground floor. A highly enjoyable walk with many changes of perspective, which Schimpf put together with Angelika Nollert, head of the new collection in Munich and incidentally head in Nuremberg until 2014. Only once does it get really serious in the hall with war carpets from Afghanistan. It takes a while to recognize the motives of some ornaments: tanks, helicopters, guns.

Then on the upper floor the hall with the many works by Gerhard Richter. It’s easy to forget that the Neues Museum has the third-largest collection of Richter’s works in the world thanks to the permanent loan from the Böckmann Collection. Of course it shouldn’t stay that way, says Schimpf, Richter must become “a new centerpiece”, also with the help of digital formats. “Visitors have to learn a lot more about judges here.”

Together with Chemnitz, Nuremberg is showing art that the federal government has bought over the past five years

The plans for next year? Schimpf takes a short breath. First comes the Munich video artist Christoph Brech, who uses the cube as a large video booth for eight weeks and shows a program tailored to the house. Then an exhibition on the theme of birds. “It’s not just about birds in art, we also want to deal with their threats.” But before that – she stops abruptly – there is “Falling into the house with the door” (from November 22), in which the art that the federal government has bought over the past five years is being shown outside the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn for the first time. “Let’s do it together with Chemnitz,” says Schimpf, visibly satisfied with the sign she is setting with the exhibition. As is well known, Chemnitz prevailed against the Franconian metropolis in the race for the title “German Capital of Culture 2025”, which annoyed some Nuremberg residents. The city was not a good loser, says Schimpf. The joint exhibition is therefore an important signal.

What if Corona or the energy crisis ruin all plans? Shame shrugs. “Maybe we do movement art. Or offer warming thoughts before the art. Or we save electricity and do torchlight tours in the dark.” In the end, it’s all just a question of mediation formats.

Evelyn Hofer meets Richard Lindner. The photographer and the painter in New York. Until October 9th, New Museum Nuremberg .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You might like