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Art Education in Germany – A Free Space for Creativity

Detailed view of the “Life 3.0” model ; © Südpol-Redaktionsbüro/Anne-Kathrin GebertThe name speaks for itself - the course of study entitled Free Art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich gives its students a maximum of free space for their development. Just how much creativity this unleashes can be seen at the annual summer exhibition. The students like this freedom - but they also have to have the stamina to take it.

A boy reaches for the key in the keyhole of the cupboard door and gives the artist a questioning look. “Yes, of course, you may open the door, ” says Minyoung Paik. The young Korean woman is in the ninth term of a course in sculpture under Gregor Schneider. On the first day of the annual exhibition she delighted visitors with her piece entitled Gefrier-Schrank (Freezer), which at first glance appears to be a common or garden farmhouse cupboard - until you look inside and see that it contains pullovers that are frozen.

“A short while ago I had to move into a tiny one-room place, ” explains the 30-year-old. “That is why I had to rent a basement room from a self-storage company to keep all my things in. In order to prevent the things stored there from going mouldy, they keep the basement as cold as a refrigerator. Whenever I went there to get some clothes or books, they were as cold as ice. That is how I hit upon the idea for the freezer piece.

The old building at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich; © Südpol-Redaktionsbüro/Anne-Kathrin GebertTo study or not to study – also a financial decision

Accommodation in Munich is expensive, a course of study at the Academy however meanwhile only costs 111 euros per term - very little, indeed, as Minyoung Paik finds. In Seoul, where she used to study textile design, she had to pay the equivalent of 3, 000 euros.

Paik also thinks studying in Munich is also better than studying in Seoul. The training you receive in South Korea is much more regimented. At the Academy, in contrast, she can do exactly what she wants to do. “We have a lecture, when the professor decides to have a lecture, ” says Paik, “Sometimes once a week, sometimes once a month. Most of the time we work on our own. When we have a discussion with the members of the course, you can take along a design concept, material or even a finished piece of work to show the others. There are lectures on different subjects, but they are not compulsory, you just go to them if you happen to be interested in that particular subject. You are totally free to choose yourself.”

Self- management is the order of the day

“If you want to learn something about a particular technique, you have to go to one of the workshops, ” says Felix Kraus, who is in the twelfth term of a course in art education. “It is not a case of the professor showing you how to use a paintbrush. When we have a group discussion we analyse our works, at best a few suggestions for improvement are made. It is up to you, if you want to polish up your technique; that is the whole point - you work on developing your own style.”

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