December 20, 2019 – February 23, 2020

Faces of the city

    Video portraits by Kurt Benning and Hermann Kleinknecht

    In 1996, artists Kurt Benning (1945–2017) and Hermann Kleinknecht (b. 1943) started work on a long-term project – “Videoporträts” (video portraits). It involved getting members of the Munich art scene along with ordinary people of all social classes, professions and ages to talk about the things that matter to them. What started out as a project focusing solely on leading figures in the Munich art scene soon broadened its scope to include people from all walks of life, from art historians to building contractors, writers to taxi drivers and tax advisors to seamstresses. What emerged was an extremely diverse collection of (self-)portraits of individuals who reveal themselves not only through the spoken word but also through tone of voice, gesture and body language. The Münchner Stadtmuseum has showcased around 50 of these video pieces featuring eminent Munich personalities alongside some of the city’s less well-known inhabitants. By depicting a broad spectrum of very different people, these video portraits provide a compelling snapshot of contemporary Munich society.

    In "Bilder für Alle" (A Picture for Everyone), the exhibition further presents a selection of open projects by artists working in the spirit of Benning and Kleinknecht to democratize the medium of the portrait, traditionally the preserve of the most privileged social classes.

    As part of an exhibition of dog photography at the Münchner Stadtmuseum in 1989, museum photographer Kerstin Schuhbaum (b. 1957) placed dogs and their owners in the middle of the exhibition, against the backdrop of a plain white linen sheet, and took their photographs. Her aim was to investigate whether there is any substance to the cliché that dogs often look like their owners.

    To mark the 25th anniversary of Munich street magazine BISS, photographers Barbara Donaubauer (b. 1975) and Ulrike Frömel (b. 1968) opened a pop-up portrait studio in the city’s Wittelsbacherplatz square during the summer and fall of 2018. Under the motto of “Ein Bild für alle” (A Picture for Everyone), they gave away free portrait photos to anyone who wanted one. They were able to reach out to people who had probably never entered a portrait studio in their lives and could never otherwise have afforded to have their photo taken. In total, they produced around 100 portraits depicting a cross-section of Munich society. The photographers will repeat this project at the exhibition on two further dates.

    Munich artist Jadranka Kosorcic (b. 1972) arranges “blind dates” to let her draw people she has never met before. Anyone wishing to take part can apply by email. Kosorcic sees her work as “an encounter and the opportunity to see people close up, to get to know them through and in the process of drawing their portraits, to capture their essence by means of a traditional medium, while placing them a novel social setting.”

    In her 2018 project "Stundenporträts" (One-hour Portraits), Munich artist Gabriele Drexler (b. 1966) produced paintings of visitors to the "Kunsthaus Raab", a temporary exhibition space in Munich’s Neuhausen neighborhood. Her work explores the now rather outmoded genre of portrait painting.

    In his work “Die Maschine erinnert sich” (The Machine Remembers), Tübingen musician and media artist Timo Dufner (b. 1980) uses artificial intelligence to merge the individual faces of exhibition visitors into a nondescript, “collective” face.

    These contemporary works complement the large number of predominantly historical portraits in the Münchner Stadtmuseum’s collections. They explore new ways of representing the people who live in our city, crossing the boundaries between individual and stereotype.

    Artist biographies

    Kurt Benning

    1945 Born in Pleystein / Upper Palatinate
    1965-69 Munich Academy of Fine Arts
    1969-70 DAAD scholarship to attend Central School of Art and Design, London
    1971-75 Graphic designer and photographer at the Goethe-Institut, London
    1982 ‘Förderpreis der Landeshauptstadt München’ award
    1984 ‘Staatlicher Förderpreis im Bereich Bildende Kunst’, Munich (state fine arts prize)
    2017 Died in Munich

    Hermann Kleinknecht

    1943 Born in Bad Berneck / Upper Franconia
    1968-72 Studied at Munich Academy of Fine Arts
    1973-74 DAAD scholarship to attend "ateliers 63", Haarlem, Netherlands
    1974-75 Scientific illustrator at Munich Institute of Paleontology
    1975 ‚Förderpreis der Landeshauptstadt München‘ award
    1976 Residency at Villa Massimo, Rome
    1981 ‘Staatlicher Förderpreis im Bereich Bildende Kunst’, Munich (state fine arts prize)
    1993-94 Grant to attend Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris
    Lives and works in Berlin

    Barbara Donaubauer

    1975 Born in Munich
    1996-1999 Studied at the State Academy of Photographic Design, Munich
    1999-2000 Assistant to Paolo Carlini & Cristina Núñez, Milan, Italy
    2002 Assistant to Mary Ellen Mark in New York, USA
    2014 M.A. in European Ethnology, LMU, Munich
    Lives and works in Munich

    Ulrike Frömel

    1968 Born in Munich
    1986-88 Trained as a photographer
    1990 Assistant to Anthony Blake, London
    1991 Assistant to Robin Broadbent, London
    1992-95 State Academy of Photographic Design, Munich
    Since 1995 Assignments for various magazines, including SZ-Magazin, Stern, Geosaison, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Eltern, Focus, Freundin, Dogs, Playboy
    Lives and works in Gräfelfing, near Munich

    Gabriele Drexler

    1966 Born in Munich
    1991 Studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts (under Horst Sauerbruch)
    1996 1. Staatsexamen (university examination)
    2001-2003 Special Fellowship of the Bavarian State Ministry for Science, Research and the Arts
    2002-2004 Studio grant from the Bayerischer Kulturfonds (Bavarian Culture Fund)
    Lives and works in Munich

    Timo Dufner

    1980 Born in Villingen-Schwenningen
    2010-15 Studied Business and Media IT at the University of Stuttgart and the University of Tübingen
    2018-19 Studied Music Design at Furtwangen University
    Lives and works in Tübingen

    Jadranka Kosorcic

    1972 Born in Split, Croatia
    1997/98 Studied at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London
    1993-2001 Studied at Munich Academy of Fine Arts (under Jerry Zeniuk and Ben Willikens)
    1993-1994 Studied at Nuremberg Academy of Fine Arts (under Tim Scott and Günther Dollhopf)
    Lives and works in Munich

    Kerstin Schuhbaum

    1957 Born in Landshut
    1980-82 Studied at the Bavarian State Institute of Photography, Munich
    Lives and works in Munich

    Curator of the exhibition: Rudolf Scheutle, Photography Collection

    Plan Your Visit


    St.-Jakobs-Platz 1
    80331 München
    Phone +49-(0)89-233-22370
    Fax +49-(0)89-233-25033
    E-Mail stadtmuseummuenchende

    Ticket reservation
    Phone +49-(0)89-233-96450

    Opening hours

    Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm
    Closed on Mondays

    Every 2nd Wednesday of the month selected exhibitions at the Münchner Stadtmuseum are open until 8 pm

    Munich Film Museum Screenings
    Tuesday – Sunday 6.30 pm + 9 pm
    Thursday 7 pm
    Screening times may change if the film exceeds standard duration

    Getting here

    S/U-Bahn station: Marienplatz
    U-Bahn station: Sendlinger Tor
    Bus 52/62 stop: St.-Jakobs-Platz