The Munich Academy of Fine Arts, designed by Gottfried von Neureuther, was completed in 1884 in the district of Schwabing. Christian Hess studied here from 1919 to 1924 under Professor Carl Johann Becker-Gundhal. Founded in 1770, by the early 19th century the Academy was second only in importance to the Academies in Paris and Dusseldorf. Munich was considered the artistic capital of Central Europe: the city exerted enormous artistic influence over a vast area from Scandinavia to Russia, from Poland to Greece and could boast a special relationship with Hungary.
In the mid-nineteenth century
when the importance of the Dusseldorf Academy was waning, the Munich
Academy began to attract growing numbers of students from throughout
Europe and the United States.
Here, from 1919 Christian Hess was to forge his
artistic talent. (On the right Hess in a group photo of students from
Prof. Carl Johann Becker-Gundhal’s class).
In the first half of the 1930’s the international prestige of the
Academy rapidly declined, as it submitted to the artistic tenets of
National Socialism. But, following the mysterious blaze at the Munich
Glaspalast in which some of his own works were destroyed and the growing
threats from Hitler to ban the avant-guard Juryfreie movement of which
he was a leading member, Hess had already fled Bavaria and sought refuge
in Sicily. His continuous wanderings finally took him to Innsbruck,
where he was to die of injuries sustained in an air-raid on the city at
Schwaz Hospital on 26 November 1944. In Munich allied bombings severely
damaged the Academy. Its archives were destroyed, along with its vast
collection of paintings and historic costumes. The destruction left no
trace of the works produced by Christian Hess during his years of study
at the Academy.
In 1948 the Academy was merged with the schools for arts-and-crafts and
applied arts and new educational guidelines laid down which are still in
force today, each separate discipline being taught in specialist