Berlin – December 29, 2013

Our last day in Berlin.

Everyone decided to hang out at the Germans’ house while Mr. MM, Texas, and I got our wires uncrossed and headed into Mitte to see some art.

We took the S-Bahn to Potsdamer Platz and walked west to the Neue Nationalgalerie.

Neue Nationalgalerie.

Neue Nationalgalerie.

Opening in 1968, this was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s final major built project.  Mies is known for creating fluid open spaces that are inherently perfect for art exhibits.  The interior can be manipulated to showcase the art.  I would love to see a Richard Serra exhibit in this pavilion!   Can’t you just picture his Cor-10 steel torqued ellipses in contrast to the slick finishes of Mies’s design?

I did enjoy the ‘Expansion of the Combat Zone.  1968 – 2000. The Collection Part 3’.  One artist assembled vintage radios that played sound bites from former ‘East German’ propaganda programs.  This was one of my favorite pieces from the exhibit.  Vintage radios — love them.  And I have some sort of weird nostalgia for the Cold War with all its rhetoric.

Vintage radios blaring propaganda.  Cabinet of curiosities.

Vintage radios blaring propaganda. Cabinet of curiosities.

I have a mild obsession with ‘cabinets of curiosity’. Orderly chaos.  I do not recall what this piece was but I love the Louise Nevelson quality of the storage shelves.

Louise Nevelson US Postage Stamps.

Louise Nevelson US Postage Stamps.

I fear that I may wander off the path and start gushing over Ms. Nevelson.  But don’t you see the similarities between her sculpture and the piece in the Neue Nationalgalerie?

People watching in the Neue Nationalgalerie proved to be entertaining …

Neue Galerie Interior.

Neue Nationalgalerie people watching.

We then walked to the Berlinische Galerie via the Topography of Terror, lunch at a small beer bar, and Checkpoint Charlie.  I had no idea that we enjoyed our lunch while overlooking the site of the long demolished Nazi SS headquarters.

Wow.  Checkpoint Charlie has completely changed and now is just a mere tourist trap.  I remember visiting Berlin when the wall was still up and how weighty this site felt.  And how un-touristy this site was.

On October 22, 1961 there was a dispute over whether East German guards had the authority to exam the passport of an American diplomat passing through the checkpoint to attend the opera in East Berlin.  Within five days 10 Soviet and 10 American tanks stood 300 feet apart on either side of the checkpoint.  Thankfully the standoff ended peacefully by the end of the month.  Did Americans even realize the threat that loomed?  I know Berliners did.  I know my mom did.

This is what I find so fascinating about Europe.  You can’t help walking through monumental history.  It gives one pause.

By the time we arrived at the Berlinische Galerie, I was cranky but I don’t think that had anything to do with my unimpressed view of the Franz Ackermann exhibit.  Should one really paint in neon colors?  I wasn’t expecting much after walking through this first exhibit.  Then we walked into the ‘Vienna Berlin: The Art of Two Cities — From Schiele to Grosz’.  And who should have a nice presence in this exhibit?

Hannah Hoch.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love collage.  A German DaDa artist, she was one of the originators of photomontage.

I really like this description from Michael Kimmelman’s NY Times article about the Ms. Hoch:

A visitor once described her studio in Heiligensee. In the middle was a big table, nearly invisible beneath cartons of old newspapers, mounds of clippings from magazines and brochures, pots of glue and a pair of scissors. When the visitor reached for the scissors, Hoch reacted more or less the way Heifetz might have if a stranger had suddenly picked up his Stradivarius, which is to say not well, and the scissors were swiftly put back on the table.

The exhibit showed several of her colleges and several dolls.  Just enough work to make the visit well worth it.

Her self portrait photomontage below makes me think it might be interesting to do my own self portrait.  Hmmm …

Hannah Hoch self portrait.

Hannah Hoch self portrait.



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