Ludwig Museum, Cologne
Ludwig Museum, Cologne ©Tomas Riehle, artur images

Ludwig Museum, Cologne: the whole world of modernism

Upheaval and avant garde, form and functionality, rigour and beauty: modernism is a broad term that has shaped an entire century and remains influential today. Hardly any other museum has concentrated as exclusively on this era as Cologne's Ludwig Museum, whose collection starts in the early 20th century and traces developments right to the present day in remarkable breadth and depth.

The history of this fascinating museum, which together with the Philharmonic Hall has occupied an architecturally striking building right next to Cologne Cathedral since 1986, began with Peter and Irene Ludwig's endowment of around 350 works of modern art. Within a few decades, it had grown into the biggest collection of Pop Art outside the USA including Roy Lichtenstein's Maybe and Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes. In addition to the Pop Art, today it owns the third-largest Picasso collection worldwide and an extensive collection of Russian avant garde from before and after the revolution, as well as important works of German Expressionism and Surrealism. Artistic movements such as Bauhaus and De Stijl, Nouveau Réalisme and Fluxus bring us to the contemporary art which the museum resolutely acquired, the most recent piece never being more than a few months old. German art of the 1970s and 1980s and installations by the younger avant garde therefore also found their way into the Ludwig Museum, completing the survey of the intriguing era of modernism through contemporary works.

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