Dr Bernhart Schwenk, born in 1960 in Wiesbaden, has been conservator for contemporary art at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich since 2002.
Having graduated in art history, medieval and modern history, and classical archaeology at the universities of Mainz, Cologne and Bonn, Schwenk obtained his doctorate in 1991 with a dissertation on the painter Blinky Palermo (Peter Heisterkamp, 1943–1977). He began working as a research assistant at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt am Main, where as a member of Christoph Vitali’s staff he supervised international thematic exhibitions about art from the 17th to the 20th century. His collaboration with Vitali continued in Munich, where Schwenk worked as an exhibition curator at the Haus der Kunst from 1993 to 2001. In 2002 he moved to the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, where he was appointed chief curator of the department for contemporary art in the then freshly opened Pinakothek der Moderne. Besides his museum responsibilities Schwenk also holds several teaching posts – the chair for restoration, art technology and conservation science at the Technische Universität München; and at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg in the institute for stage and costume design, film and exhibition architecture. From 2003 to 2007 he was an honorary member of the purchasing commission for the Collection of contemporary art in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Numerous publications, lectures and exhibitions reflect the broad range of his preoccupation with art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – in painting (Francis Bacon, Palermo, Robert Ryman, Neo Rauch, Luc Tuymans, Peter Doig, Tomma Abts), sculpture and installation (Olaf Metzel, Mike Kelley, Thomas Hirschhorn, John Bock, Manfred Pernice, Mark Manders), in media art (Kutlug Ataman, Johan Grimonprez, Bjørn Melhus), but also in relation to hybrid forms of art such as dance (William Forsythe) and film (Pier Paolo Pasolini).