The museum, founded in 1848 by Berhard von Lindenau, is one of the most unusual and beautiful art museums in Germany. The collector and patron was inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment, founded an art school, and compiled precious artworks with which he could narrate the history of art from ancient times to the present. The collection of 180 Italian panels from the 13th to the 16th century, including works by Sandro Botticelli, is particularly unique. Lindenau also compiled precious Greek and Etruscan ceramics, plaster casts of famous Ancient and Renaissance statues, a collection of paintings, and a valuable art library. The new collections incorporated in the 20th century encompass painting, graphic art, and sculptures from the 17th century to the present, among them works by Jean-Antoine Houdon, Max Slevogt, Christian Rohlfs and Max Klinger. Special emphasis is placed on Expressionism and New Objectivity with Conrad Felixmüller, Otto Dix, Wassily Kandinsky or Ernst Barlach. The Lindenau-Museum also holds the largest collection of works by Gerhard Altenbourg in the world.
The 2017 Gerhard-Altenbourg-Preis goes to Pia Fries of Switzerland. The artist, born in 1955 in Beromünster, Canton Lucerne, is a representative of the purest type of painting. The interplay of colours that develops uninhibited on white surface is her message. Her colours are energies that are constantly changing, binding, and declaring the power of art. In her rousing pictures everything is creation and metamorphosis, the most beautiful parable of life that moves between the poles of being and fleeting, tranquillity and movement. The creative principle simply emerges in Pia Fries’s pictures.
In Altenburg, Pia Fries will be presenting new works alongside collections from the past three decades, among them a series of pictures created as an analysis of Maria Sibylla Merian. The artist puts her myriad colours and vegetal shapes over screen prints with fragments of Merian’s pictures - a process also used in another series for Hendrick Goltzius’s famous “Himmelsstürmern”, which can also be seen. The works on paper, which can be seen in their entirety, are a special focal point.
After studying at the Kunstgewerbeschule Lucerne (1977-1980) she switched over to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. She studied painting there from 1980 to 1986, and graduated as a Master’s student under Gerhard Richter. She then was granted a lectureship at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and professorships at the Kunstakademie Karlsruhe as well as the Universität der Künste Berlin. Since 2014 Pia Fries has held a professorship for painting and graphic art at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. Her works are represented in renowned national and international collections. Pia Fries has won numerous awards.
The Gerhard-Altenbourg-Preis is the most important art award in Thuringia. It is awarded by a panel of renowned figures, themselves appointed by the Lindenau-Museum-Altenburg, every two years for outstanding lifetime achievements by contemporary artists. The Gerhard-Altenbourg-Preis is funded by the State Chancellery of Thuringia, the Sparkassen-Kulturstiftung Hessen-Thüringen, and the Sparkasse Altenburger Land. Past winners of the award include Carlfriedrich Claus, Roman Opalka, and Cy Twombly. Parallel to this year’s exhibition with works by Pia Fries, works by all previous winners of the award can also be seen at the Lindenau-Museum.