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Exhibition view from “HG Merz”

HG Merz The Savage Mind

HG Merz is a maven of museum design and a pioneer in the renovation of listed cultural buildings. No single style can be ascribed to the museums, exhibitions and memorials he has designed; form and material, content and storyline, atmosphere and didactics are all highly individual in each one. One aspect that unites them is the bricolage-like manner in which specific solutions are developed from the existing context without resorting to established methods. Association and logic, fragment and totality, observation and interpretation are all given equal weight.

This wild, non-domesticated way of thinking enables a view of history in which the small and everyday aspects are just as important as those which are official and sacred. The exhibition approaches the work of HG Merz precisely on this level. What unfolds before visitors is a conglomeration of objects and relics that have found their way into the office during the design process: from the cryptic and metaphorical to the banal, a medley of diverging associations. The juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated elements sharpens the eye, the fragmentary stimulates the imagination, and the associative provides insight into the common origin of each work.

Since 1981, HG Merz has founded several architecture and graphic design offices in addition to his university activities as a lecturer. Together with Sophie Merz, he currently heads merz merz in Berlin. HG Merz has renovated some of Berlin’s most important monuments, including the former State Council building (Staatsratsgebäude), the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), the circulation tank 2 (Umlufttank 2) by Ludwig Leo, the Staatsbibliothek (State Library), and the Staatsoper (State Opera). The challenge in handling German history can be seen in projects such as the memorial sites at the former Nazi concentration camp in Sachsenhausen and the former East German political prison in Hohenschönhausen. His museum designs include the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, the Ruhr Museum in Essen, and the Kunstkammer in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

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