This is post #19 of our Dublin-Berlin trip, for Monday, September 24, 2018.
The museum passes we’d purchased were good for three days, and even though I was pretty tired of being on the go for a week-plus, like a good little tourist, I headed out to explore more art and spacious buildings and see Berlin.
I took the bus to the first museum and as I walked from the corner, I passed this decorated brick building. The small touches from another era are intriguing, as is this sign from the current day, decrying the advent of Brexit:
Even the building opposite the Galerie carries artful (even quilty) touches.
The main interior staircase.
First exhibit was The Art Show, 1963-1977 by Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, showing the a highly ironic opening of an art exhibition in a gallery. The faces have parts of cars: air conditioning vents and fans, with clothing from the 1970s. If a button is pressed on the figure, they comment on the art, but since I didn’t speak German, I didn’t do any of that. I found it highly amusing, whimsical. There was even a table with a punch bowl and glasses. I shot a quick video, giving a sense of the exhibit.
So many interesting portraits in this exhibit:
One of the downstairs exhibits had this placard, listing all the worries — or Fears — as seen from the artist’s viewpoint. “Angst verkanetet in Versicherungen” translates to “Fear creeps into insurance.” “Angst macht Macht” translates to “Fear makes power.” “Angst erntet Echo” is “Fear makes echo.” Have fun typing some into Google Translate.
As I think we are permeated with Fear these days (Angst okkupiert den Okzident means Fear Occupies the West), this list demonstrated how the pervasiveness of Fear can affect us.
I headed upstairs to the more traditional exhibits.
I always take pictures of people stitching, and the title of this is The Warming Hall in Berlin, 1908:
While I am familiar with art concepts, I always need guidance with art history, so was grateful for the excellent titles, both in German and English, to help me understand what I was looking at.
Clanging and noises sounded throughout the upper gallery as the artist was working to ready his exhibit on the ground floor, but the openings in the upper wall allowed me to observe for a while. From where I stood, it didn’t seem like anything that would catch my interest, but later, when I went downstairs, there was a good-sized crowd waiting for this one to open.
It was Berlin Art Week, and many galleries were listed in their brochure. But this was the Big One. They even had snacks laid out, just like in the Opening of the Art Gallery piece, shown at the top of this post.
Okay, back upstairs.
Nussbaum depicts a group of young artists unloading their paintings in front of the Prussian Academy of the Arts in Pariser Platz in Berlin. Their distinguished professors parade past, illustrating the generational conflict: The younger artists believe the established artists are defending a rigid art tradition and are standing in the way of new trends. (info from title card)
This title card was sobering. As I have noted before, the Nazi regime and all that is related to it moves through this city like a specter, haunting random corners of this trip. Even here, in an art museum, I found the effects of those dark years. There were many placards detailing harassment (if the artist was Jewish), or denouncements of artists if they did not agree with the authorities. One artist, Ernst Neuschul, moved to Britain and changed his name to Ernest Norland, after his mother and other members of the family were murdered at Auschwitz. Many did not immigrate, but instead withdrew from public life.
I carefully took photos of title cards all the way through, except for this one. But I include it here because it was painted on a door, artist’s materials in short supply during the war. I do know the last name of the artist: Heldt, and this is the title card:
This is one of a series of works by Fetting relating to the Berlin Wall. This section was near the gallery he founded with some artist friends in 1977, the Gallery am Moritzplatz. The title card notes that “the yellow color removes any sense of threat from the Wall. Against the deep blue of the night sky, instead it flows like the backdrop to a promising stage set…embracing and protecting the…island city, West Berlin.”
The wall fell in November 1991.
As I left, the tour bus pulled up and a large group joined the one already inside.
I was headed to another museum, and the bus route went past our hotel, The Movenpick.
I head across the plaza from the grand department store KaDeWe this time, heading to lunch at Noah’s:
I had Monday’s special: Tagliatelle with Mushrooms and Ham. All of a sudden, I am feeling really tired, for some reason, tired of being on the go, however. Just the other side of the window (I was eating inside) a young couple sat down, had a coffee, a couple of smokes, and topped it off with a fight. They walked off in separate directions. Entertainment.
I took another set of underground trains to where the next museum, the Bauhaus, was supposed to be, but apparently it was under renovation and all I encountered was a storefront that held a fancy gift shop full of pricey souvenirs for a museum that didn’t exist. I stopped a block down to get the baked goods for Dave’s breakfast, then made my way back to the underground station.
I’m feeling a lot more poorly now. As Brian Regan would put it, in his classic comedy routine “Happy 8 Day”, everything that was in the inside of me wanted to be on the outside of me, and visa versa. But even when I got off the train back near my hotel, I still had a long few blocks to walk. I hurried to my room, quite ill. I didn’t know if it was the food, or the multiple days on the go, or the water, or whatever. Safe in my room, I collapsed and after a while, fell asleep.
I awoke to this sight, but didn’t move, staying in bed, weeping, just wanting to feel better. Travel can be like this, too, unfortunately. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been fairly healthy on all our trips, or only having minor illnesses. The only other bad one was going to see a Dr. Faustus one time in Munich (where she cauterized my sore throat with a swab dipped in some insanely painful chemical. I didn’t eat for two days), or when Dave had the stomach flu in Copenhagen last year.
And when you don’t feel well, everything’s dark and gloomy. You just want to be home, in your own bed, in your own house. This feeling of being unmoored is not a pleasant one, and I’m glad it doesn’t come often. I much prefer the experience of expansive exploration.
Dave texted me: he’ll be late. I pulled myself together and went down to the Vietnamese restaurant a few blocks away, ate about half of what you see here, then went back to the hotel, back to bed. Dave told me later that I looked terrible when he came home. His perception was truth: I felt terrible.