SCHUNCK is a new kind of multidisciplinary cultural institution that has come into being by a synergy of several previously independent cultural institutions: a museum of modern and contemporary art, a research and presentation centre for architecture, a public library, a music school and an educational department. Since its founding in 2009 SCHUNCK became the major hub and meeting place for art, culture and knowledge in this part of the Netherlands, for a wide range of publics from local up to national and international level.
SCHUNCK Museum brings together a presentation institute for modern and contemporary art, the city art collection and a centre for architecture and urbanism. The content- wise focus is directed towards the ‘suburban experience’ as a defining criteria of our time. It is rooted in the arts and architecture of the 20th and 21th century with its legacy of Modernism that is defining for the iconic building of SCHUNCK, the Glaspaleis.
From a contemporary angle SCHUNCK Museum is nowadays a place for social- cultural innovation, experiment and image formation. As an centre for knowledge, research and expertise it combines scientific, artistic and live action research for new approaches to complex topics. SCHUNCK distinguishes itself by means of its multidisciplinary setting and, above all, by means of an interdisciplinary approach that consistently stimulates the innovative potential of crossovers between the various cultural disciplines.
SCHUNCK is housed in a former fashion house and department store Firma Schunck in Heerlen, the Netherlands. It is constructed by architect Fritz Peutz (a contemporary and admirer of Mies van der Rohe) in 1935 and situated in the ‘urban’, former mining region of Heerlen. The building is also known as the Glaspaleis (Glass Palace) and declared one of the 1000 most important buildings of the 20th century by the Union of International Architects. (Photo taken by Werner Mantz, Modehuis Schunck, ‘Glaspaleis’, Dakterrassen, 227x171mm, 1936/1998, private collection).
Operating in the ‘Euro-region’ (close to Brussels, Cologne and Düsseldorf) and with a strong international ambition, SCHUNCK has presented extensive solo exhibitions of Modernist and Urbanist visionaries of the twentieth century:
• Oscar Niemeyer (2009),
• John Cage (2010),
• Niki de Saint-Phalle, (2011),
• Mies van der Rohe (2016)
As a former flourishing mining region, the raw and experimental city of Heerlen is a place where expressions of street culture flourish. Heerlen is relating to urban culture with its recent city politics ‘Urban Heerlen’ in which this city is described as ‘young, raw, experimental and creative’ and initiatives of street performance artists, muralists, break-dancers, experimental musicians – shortly the fusion of high and low, inside and outside cultural practices – are stimulated. With murals of Os Gemeos, Troy Lovegates, Hadassah Emmerich and many others, Heerlen is nationally called the ‘street art capital’ of The Netherlands. SCHUNCK considers this as the outcome of a profound tradition and interest in avant-garde culture, as relished in this special city since the 1930s. Back then, the ground-breaking mayor Marcel van Grunsven acquired Mies van der Rohe Weissenhof chairs for his office, started to 40 years long collaboration with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and its famous director Willem Sandberg and set the tone of avant-garde voice that we still cherish today at SCHUNCK.
PAINT IT SOFT is a wide-ranging exhibition about the renaissance of textile arts. Like the textile artists from the 1950s en 1960s who discovered the possibilities of working outside the constraints of the canvas, many contemporary artists are –quite literally- stretching the concept of painting on canvas to create ‘social fabrics’ and ‘oil paintings on textile’. With works by (among others): Rob Birza, Claude Bleynie, Daan van Golden, Christie van der Haak, Jean Lurçat, Sarah van Sonsbeeck, Berend Strik, Fransje Killaars, Roy Villevoye.
SPIELEREI is a large-scale exhibition displaying historical and contemporary interactive works of art. The artists’ collective Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV) from 1960 provides the point of departure for the exhibition. GRAV artists aimed to bring art closer to the public, activating and liberating viewers with objects of art which engaged the public to ‘act’ in a playful way. At the same time, the exhibition traces the influence that GRAV has had on contemporary artists who are represented here by a wide diversity of work: from political engagement and painted optical illusions to the use of Virtual Reality.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (Aachen 1886 – Chicago 1969) helped redefine the skylines of Berlin, Chicago and New York with groundbreaking architecture, as well as numerous iconic items of furniture. Mies van der Rohe still enjoys currency today. His rational and universal ideas continue to inspire the architects of the present. His buildings however, are falling into a state of disrepair or are in need of redevelopment. The preservation and redevelopment of this heritage – within the right context and in the right fashion – is crucial for urban regions. Urban developers everywhere are asking themselves: what should be preserved, how and why?
VISUAL VINYL pays tribute to the record or LP as an audiovisual art form. The exhibition shows a unique collection of record sleeves representing works of more than thousand artists from the 1960s until the present. For example: Andy Warhol’s LPs fort he Velvet Underground and the Rolling Stones, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s design for Rammellzee and K-Bop, but also record sleeves designed by Salvador Dali, Damien Hirst, Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Mark Ryden, Raymond Pettibon, Jeff Koons and many others.
Photographer Werner Mantz was commisioned by the Dutch Statemines of Limburg (DSM) in the 1930s to document the mining region. His photographs are of great historical value as the industrial mining region has almost disappeared. Mantz’ photographs also show the spirit of the Modern Movement in architure of which his contemporaries Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Frits Peutz (architect of the ‘Glass Palace’ where SCHUNCK is housed).
Hadassah Emmerich shows a selection of works from 2000 together with a new body of work at her extensive solo exhibition CORPOREAL. Emmerich’s artistic style can be described as ‘expanded painting’: her installations consist of paintings, drawings, linocuts and murals which together form a colourful Gesamtkunstwerk. In CORPOREAL, Hadassah Emmerich, addresses themes as exoticism, identity and female representation.
From an elephant mask of Mali to a Nigerian oracle board or a buddha painted by the renowned artist Daan van Golden. Artist and guest curator Paul van der Eerden has brought together a unique selection of works about the image as an intermediary between the earthly and supernatural worlds in various cultural contexts. The exhibition places contemporary art in the context of African ancestor worship and European saints’ images.
NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE. OUTSIDE-IN is the first extensive exhibition of the works of Niki de Saint Phalle in the Netherlands since 1976. Produced with The Niki Charitable Art Foundation and the Centre Pompidou Paris, SCHUNCK presents more than a hundred original works from international collections: the early and late Nanas, brides and monsters, shooting paintings, altars, films and assemblages, and a mysterious self-portrait with shards from 1958.
American composer, poet, graphic artist and essayist John Cage (1912-1992) not only changed the course of modern music and dance, he also created a new conceptual horizon for artistic productions in the late 20th century. The exhibition THE ANARCHY OF SILENCE is a comprehensive retrospective of his work, philosophy, and influences, influences which are still perceptible today. On show are also works from his (Fluxus) contemporaries, amongst others: Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, La Monte Young, Nam June Paik, Merce Cunningham, Andy Warhol.
The Oscar Niemeyer exhibition was first opened in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 and then traveled through Brazil. SCHUNCK has the European premiere to host this extensive exhibition in 2009. Guest curator Lauro Cavalcanti curated an oeuvre exhibition that gives a deeper insight into Niemeyer’s work process, which has formed a modern Brazil.