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Musing about Münster's Innovative Art

Münster, as many who have heard of it know, beyond being a significant Hanseatic city, is a highly innovative city. Considering that almost 50,000 of its roughly 300,000 inhabitants are students, it would be difficult to ignore this vital aspect of its character. However, spend any time in Münster and you'll quickly realize that it is much more than merely a modern university city and its proclivity towards innovation is much more far reaching than most would ever imagine.  

Thus, my favorite activity in Münster -- besides, as you may already know, riding a bike along the fabulous "bike highway" the encircles Münster's centre -- is wandering through the city, simply discovering its public art installations. While many German cities boast public art, no other German city exhibits such a spectacular array. In fact, its collection is unique in the world.

What makes Münster's offering so distinctive is the genuine peculiarity in the locations -- which become as significant to the work as the "sculpture" itself. I place quotations around the word "sculpture" because this is a very loose interpretation of the word, to encapsulate works so clearly varied in style that they truly cannot fit into any real category.  

Münster's public art sculpture movement essentially began in 1977 when the LWL State Museum for Art and Cultural History began collaborating with artists for the project, "Skulptur.Projekte in Münster." Since then, every ten years, the project has invited collaborations with international artists (and on rare occasions in between the main exhibition year). Following each year's installations, some of the sculptures get purchased but many have remained in their original locations. In fact, some basically become one with the location -- and entirely immobile -- once installed.  

At present, Münster has around 60 remarkably varied "sculptures" scattered throughout the city in the most unusual locations. 

Here’s a list of some of my favorites that are most likely to catch you by surprise. And that, of course, is why I think you'll love them too.  

(Aasee meadow)
This sculpture is my favorite. In the middle of a meadow, artist Ilya Kabakov wants you to enjoy this art installation from the comfort of the grass. To see what it is about, you really must lie down, looking up. When you do, you’ll read an inspiring message from the artist about taking the time to simply look up into the sky. But it's not the message but rather the full experience of being on the grass, looking up at the message, that makes this piece my favorite.  

In 2007, artist Hans-Peter Feldmann renovated the public bathroom at the Domplatz as an interactive, functional work of art. Every aspect of the bathroom was rethought as "art," and the bathroom was outfitted with large paintings, new tiles and a chandelier. The bathroom continues to be open for free public use as part of the artist's vision for democratic art. 

(Tormin bridge on the Aasee)
This art is really the art of sound and symbolism. Every Sunday, between 10am and 6pm, at the beginning of every hour, you'll hear artist Susan Philipz singing the Bacarole from Jacque Offenbach’s opera Hoffman’s Tales, as projected by loudspeakers. As you stand by the water, you'll hear the song’s story that tells of a man's “lost reflection.” 

(Muehlenstrasse, above Café Gasolin)
In 1997, Canadian artist Kim Adams created a piece of “squatter architecture” above an old gas station. The base of the “house” is a five meter high grain silo and it incorporates materials such as car seats, hoods and tires. Below, “Café Gasolin” is also meant to be symbolic, as modern society is so fueled by caffeine.  

(by the City Library)
The creation of New York artist, Tom Waterness, alongside German architects, is a robot-ish looking woman that towers over you at eight feet tall. She is intended to be the personification of wisdom and freedom. 

And, though I cannot imagine it, if somehow Münster's public art bores you, I can assure you art abounds here, inside and out. There is certainly no shortage of museums. Though he is not German, one name synonymous with art innovation is Picasso and Münster just happens to have The Pablo Picasso Museum of Graphic Art. It is the only museum in the world devoted solely to Pablo Picasso's graphic works.

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I do believe all of the ideas you have offered to your post. They are really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are too brief for starters. May you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

2014-01-01 – Lusty

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