The Junkerhaus, now a museum, is the two-storey half-timbered house built by Karl Junker, which has been one of the sights of Lemgo since its completion.
Karl Junker lived in the house from 1891 until his death in 1912 and worked constantly on its furnishings. The house is a residence, an artist’s house and a synthesis of the arts at the same time.
Karl Junker was born in Lemgo in 1850. He lost his parents in early childhood and grew up with his grandfather. After graduating from grammar school, he completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter. He then moved professionally to Hamburg for two years and then to Munich to study art. Six years later, he embarked on a two-year trip to Italy, where he enrolled in the German Academy of Fine Arts and produced numerous drawings of sites in Italy. The influences of his trip to Italy are clearly visible in his house.
Around 1883 he returned to Lemgo. Eight years later, he began planning and designing his house on a plot of land on the outskirts of what was then the town.
The house is covered all over with wooden ornaments, paintings, decorations and carvings, inside and out. It literally stands out immediately, because it is so very different. Many call it a fairytale house. Junker paints, carves, adjusts and decorates it for 20 years until he dies. It is dark in the house, even in broad daylight, it seems oppressive, it smells of wood and a little musty.
During his lifetime, people were temporarily not allowed to enter his house, food had to be placed in front of his door. He only left his house in the dark. Junker furnished his house with, among other things, a children’s room, a parents’ room, a guest room and a throne room, although he had no children, was never a husband or father, seldom had guests and certainly sat alone on his throne …
He was an oddball, a loner, but not a mentally ill person. He was probably a lonely man with certain longings, also for family, security, etc. He was a loner.
He once said to an acquaintance: “I will invent a new style. People may not understand me right away. I will be like Richard Wagner with his music. But later, after 50 or 100 years, people will understand me.”
And indeed, Karl Junker’s painterly and sculptural work is now attracting international attention in the context of Outsider Art.
Scholarly research says that Junker’s oeuvre as a whole is a unity in terms of architecture, painting and sculptural work, which are Junker’s experiences in their origin.
A visit to this house is definitely a unique experience.