Gemäldegalerie Diary

BerlinGemald49

BerlinGemald48

BerlinGemald2

BerlinGemald3

BerlinGemald5

I visited the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin for the second time during 2018 and was just as enamored with the museum as I had been when I first came there. It was clear to me that this gallery hosting paintings from first years of medieval art to Neoclassism in 1800 has one of the best collections of European art in the world.

BerlinGemald18

The Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach the Elder

BerlinGemald16

BerlinGemald21

BerlinGemald22

BerlinGemald24

The German art, especially the paintings by Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach the Elder, was a true delight. I loved studying Dürer’s The Madonna with the Siskin from 1506. With a scenic landscape in the background, Mary has a cheerful and curious Jesus on her lap as he plays with a bird perched on his arm. Two putti hold a laurel crown over Mary’s head.

BerlinGemald30

BerlinGemald31

BerlinGemald32

However, it was the collection of Netherlandish work that I was drawn to like a magnet. Ever since taking a class at Smith College in Dutch and Flemish art, I have been a Netherlandish art fanatic. One of my favorites was Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Dutch Proverbs from 1559, which showcases 100 proverbs in a realistic village setting.

BerlinGemald40

Moses with the Ten Commandments by Rembrandt, 1659

BerlinGemald42

Susanna and the Elders by Rembrandt, 1647

BerlinGemald41

BerlinGemald45

BerlinGemald46

One entire room is devoted to Rembrandt’s art, and I spent a long time studying Rembrandt’s creations. While staring at Moses about to destroy the tablets in Moses with the Ten Commandments from 1659, I felt Moses’ ire and inner turmoil. In Rembrandt’s Susanna and the Elders from 1647, Susanna is swathed in light as the letch pulls her backwards toward him. Susanna draws viewers into the picture by looking straight at them, making them a witness to the physical abuse by the elderly, uncouth man and his accomplice.

BerlinGemald25

Child with a Bird by Rubens, 1624-25

BerlinGemald23

Saint Sebastian by Rubens, 1618

BerlinGemald34

Malle Babe by Hals, 1633-35

I also was overjoyed at seeing again Paul Rubens’ Child with a Bird from 1624-25 and felt the pure joy that the child must have experienced when first noticing the bird. Rubens’ Saint Sebastian from 1618 is riddled with arrows as his face is turned toward the sky, toward Heaven. Emotion and turmoil seep from the twisted figure. Frans Hal’s Malle Babe from 1633-35 shows an inebriated woman with an owl on her shoulder. I could almost hear her mad, raucous, and disturbing laughter roar through the exhibition space.

BerlinGemald50

Cupid as Victor by Caravaggio, 1601-02

BerlinGemald26

BerlinGemald29

BerlinGemald28

Other highlights for me included Jan Vermeer van Delft’s Young Woman with a Pearl Necklace. I loved the yellow of the curtain and her jacket. I adored Vermeer’s depictions of people going about their everyday routines. Even the simplest and smallest of gestures or movements acquires a poetic quality. Of course, I did not overlook Caravaggio’s works. His Cupid as Victor from 1601-02 displays his mastery at chiaroscuro as Cupid mocks the audience with a sly, cunning smile that announces love as victorious over science, art, fame and power. The five Madonnas by Raphael also stood out, and I remembered touring Raphael’s birthplace in Urbino.

BerlinGemald47

BerlinGemald54

BerlinGemald55

BerlinGemald56

Overall, there are 72 rooms displaying masterpieces in the Gemäldegalerie. The main galleries house about 850 works. The history of the museum, harkening back to 1830, intrigued me. During World War II, many of its paintings were saved because they were hidden in the Thuringian salt mines, from which US soldiers rescued them. Other items in the collection were stored in air raid shelters during the war. During the Cold War, the works were divided into two galleries – one in West Berlin, the other in the East. The two collections have only been housed in one building since 1998. The Old Master Paintings are located at the Kulturforum with the Museum of Decorative Arts as its neighbor. I was dazzled by the works in that museum as it, too, is well worth a visit.

BerlinGemald59

BerlinGemald60

BerlinGemald63

BerlinGemald64

Tracy A. Burns is a writer, proofreader and editor in Prague.

Advertisements

Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin Diary

BerlinMDA38

BerlinMDA3

BerlinMDA22

BerlinMDA2

Located next to the Gemaldegalerie of painting masterpieces, the Museum of Decorative Arts(Kunstgewerbemuseum) in the Kulturforum complex holds a very underrated and impressive collection of top-notch exhibits in fashion, design and object art from the Middle Ages through the Art Deco period. I was particularly impressed with the monumental Renaissance tapestries.

BerlinMDA28

BerlinMDA29

BerlinMDA30

BerlinMDA36

BerlinMDA19

To be sure, the medieval and Renaissance art was astounding, especially the Guelph Treasure from the 12th century. Objects from the Baroque era also stood out, including furnishings and a cabinet of curiosities from that era. Rococo porcelain, such as Meissen, is well-represented, too. The Art Nouveau and Art Deco collection spans from 1900 to 1920. I was drawn to the Art Deco vases and the furniture in both styles.

BerlinMDA16

BerlinMDA17

BerlinMDA27

BerlinMDA26

On the lower level, there is an intriguing exhibition of chairs from the 19th century to the present. It was fascinating to see how chair design had developed through the ages. One chair was made of what looked like wire; I could not imagine how painful it would be to sit on it. Another resembled an ice cream cone in a playful yellow with white color combination.

BerlinMDA40

BerlinMDA41

BerlinMDA42

BerlinMDA43

BerlinMDA44

BerlinMDA45

BerlinMDA46

Normally, I am not interested in fashion at all, but this collection caught my undivided attention. I loved the stunning evening dresses plus the older fashions from 1700 to 1850. I could never wear a corset! This museum outdid my expectations, and I came away with a fonder appreciation of fashion, design and art in general.

BerlinMDA37

BerlinMDA4

BerlinMDA5

BerlinMDA6

BerlinMDA7

BerlinMDA8

BerlinMDA9

BerlinMDA35

BerlinMDA10

BerlinMDA12

BerlinMDA13

BerlinMDA14

BerlinMDA15

BerlinMDA18

BerlinMDA20

BerlinMDA21

BerlinMDA23

BerlinMDA25

BerlinMDA32

BerlinMDA33

Tracy A. Burns is a writer, proofreader and editor in Prague.

Bode Museum Diary

BerlinBode1

BerlinBode2

BerlinBode4

BerlinBode5

Inaugurated in 1904 as the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, the building was designed by Ernst Eberhard von Ihne, and construction lasted seven years. In 1956, the museum got its current name, in honor of the first director, William Bode, whose trademark was showcasing a variety of artworks – sculpture, painting, coins, medals, crafts. Indeed, what I liked best about the Bode was the variety – the sculptures, paintings and crafts all mixed together, sometimes even in one room. The collections were full of surprises that made me enthusiastic about each work I came across.

BerlinBode6

BerlinBode10

BerlinBode11

BerlinBode15

I especially liked the sculpture collection. The medieval sculptures moved me the most. The large triptychs were overwhelmingly beautiful. Byzantine art played a major role in the collections. The art from Ravenna reminded me of my trip there as I had been dazzled by mastery of the works there. One of the largest collections of sculpture in the world, the pieces date from early medieval times to the late 18th century. Donatello, Lorenzo Bernini, Giovanni Pisano – they were just a few of the creators represented in this unbelievable array of artistry. Architectural sculpture included a Romanesque tribune from Germany. Glazed terracotta was also on display as were small sculptural works from bronze, alabaster and ivory. I also saw mosaic icons and artifacts from Egypt. The museum itself was a work of art with fireplaces and rich decoration hailing from the Italian Renaissance.

BerlinBode20

BerlinBode21

BerlinBode24

I was intrigued by one display in particular. I learned that the artworks from this museum had been stored in a bunker in Berlin-Firedrichshain during World War II, but a fire broke out in May of 1945, destroying many of the sculptures. I imagined furious flames engulfing so many precious works of art and thought how formidable the collection would have been with even more dazzling sculptures. It was a great loss, for sure.

BerlinBode26

BerlinBode28

BerlinBode29

I was in awe as I took in all the artifacts from Roman sarcophagi to silver sculpture to Byzantine works from Italy and Turkey to German Late Gothic sculptures. The mixture of different kinds of art from various periods gave the museum a dynamic quality and unique character.

Tracy Burns is a writer, proofreader and editor in Prague.

BerlinBode36

BerlinBode47

BerlinBode25

BerlinBode17

BerlinBode18

BerlinBode19

BerlinBode7

BerlinBode16

BerlinBode22

BerlinBode23

BerlinBode27

BerlinBode30

BerlinBode31

BerlinBode32

BerlinBode34

BerlinBode35

BerlinBode38

BerlinBode39

BerlinBode40

BerlinBode41

The Pergamon Museum Diary

BerlinPergamon2

The Ishtar Gate

BerlinPergamon5

BerlinPergamon6

BerlinPergamon16

Built from 1910 to 1930, the Pergamon Museum on Berlin’s Museum Island is one of the most visited museums in the country. One of its highlights, the Pergamon Altar, is closed for a lengthy period. Still, there’s a lot to see.

BerlinPergamon12

The Market Gate of Miletus

BerlinPergamon9

BerlinPergamon10

BerlinPergamon13

I especially was enthused by the Ishtar Gate in that dynamic blue color. Originally located in Babylon, it hails from 575 BC. The Market Gate of Miletus, dating from 2 AD, also overwhelmed me. I was very impressed with the wide range of Islamic art, too.

BerlinPergamon34

The Aleppo Room

BerlinPergamon35

My favorite exhibit is the Aleppo Room, a richly adorned red reception room from a house in that city. I had only seen pictures of present day Aleppo in ruins. It was difficult to imagine that something so beautiful had once stood in that city. I realized it was once a city of grandeur, though now, unfortunately, reduced to rubble. I felt the tragedy of the war deeply. Before, I had become almost numb to it, seeing so many pictures of the ruins on TV so many times. The exhibit made the war real, way too real.

BerlinPergamon17

BerlinPergamon19

BerlinPergamon21

BerlinPergamon23

I was also intrigued by the museum’s history. It was damaged during World War II, and, shortly afterwards, Russian soldiers took most of the items in the collection back to Russia. Most of it was returned in 1958 – yes, it took that long!, – but some of the objects are still in Russia. They are on display in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Tracy A. Burns is a proofreader, writer and editor in Prague.

Islamic Art Collection

BerlinPergamon25

BerlinPergamon26

BerlinPergamon27

BerlinPergamon28

BerlinPergamon30

BerlinPergamon32

BerlinPergamon33

The Old National Gallery in Berlin Diary

BerlinONG20

BerlinONG21

One of my favorite museums in Berlin, the Old National Gallery has the shape of a temple from antiquity, which appealed to me. The museum opened in 1876. While it suffered damage during World War II, it was renovated and opened again in 1949. From 1998 to 2001 it underwent modern reconstruction.

BerlinONG25

BerlinONG26

BerlinONG27

I was so impressed with the collection collection of 19th century art, which ranges in style from NeoClassicist, Romantic to Impressionist. Because Impressionism is my favorite period, I was most struck by the paintings of that era, specifically by the works of Monet. I also admired paintings by Manet and Renoir. The museum also is home to the largest collection of paintings by Adolph Menzel, who I had not heard of previously.

BerlinONG22

BerlinONG23

BerlinONG24

While I was visiting in 2018, there was a fantastic temporary exhibition called Wanderlust. It featured 19th century paintings of landscapes with travelers on foot. I had become a much stronger person from traveling alone, and it reminded me of all my solitary journeys to places unknown. The paintings could represent a person’s journey through life.

BerlinONGWanderlust1

From Wanderlust exhibition

BerlinONGWanderlust2

From Wanderlust exhibition

BerlinONGWanderlust3

From Wanderlust exhibition

I was particularly enamored by the Italian settings of Naples and Sicily in several paintings. I thought back to my trips to those places as I had discovered many gems in Italy and would develop a love for Italy almost as strong as my passion for the Czech Republic.

Tracy A. Burns is a writer, proofreader and editor in Prague.

From Permanent Exhibition

BerlinONG1

BerlinONG16

BerlinONG18

BerlinONG31

BerlinONG38

BerlinONG3

BerlinONG4

BerlinONG5

BerlinONG6

BerlinONG7

BerlinONG10

BerlinONG11

BerlinONG12

BerlinONG13

BerlinONG14

BerlinONG15

BerlinONG28

BerlinONG29

BerlinONG30

BerlinONG32

BerlinONG36

BerlinONG40

BerlinONG41

BerlinONG42

BerlinONG45

BerlinONG46

BerlinONG47

Wanderlust Temporary Exhibition

BerlinONGWanderlust7

BerlinONGWanderlust8

BerlinONGWanderlust10

BerlinONGWanderlust11

My favorite painting in the temporary exhibition

BerlinONGWanderlust12

BerlinONGWanderlust15

BerlinONGWanderlust16

 

Rovereto and the Depero Futurist House of Art Diary

Roveretoext17

Roveretoext4

It was the perfect way to spend the last day of my trip to the Veneto region. I had travelled with arsviva travel agency to Vicenza for an art exhibition and to Padua for some sightseeing. The town of Rovereto, below the Dolomites and near Lake Garda, was even more enthralling than the Palladian villas I had seen. The narrow, picturesque streets and quaint squares gave the place a romantic flair. The town had a distinctive poetic quality. I loved the cafes, where I could have sat all day while sipping cappuccinos and eating paninis. There was a lot to see, and, unfortunately, we only had a few hours before the long bus trip back to Prague.

RoveretoDepero24

Roveretoext1

Roveretoext3

Roveretoext11

The facades of the buildings caught my undivided attention. I especially liked the floral motifs on the façade of the Palazzo Del Ben-Conti d’Arco behind a fountain on one of the main squares. Other facades showed religious decoration. The town had made a name for itself in history, too. Prominent personalities had set foot in Rovereto, especially during the 18th century. Goethe had visited in 1786, Pope Pius VI in 1782. Mozart gave his first concert in Italy there during 1769. Indeed, I could almost hear Mozart’s lively music as I meandered along the charming streets.

Roveretoext15

Roveretoext5

There’s more. The Public Library holds the distinction of being the location of the longest nonstop reading session ever – 53 hours long. There are intriguing churches while a castle housing a military museum looms above the town. The Bell of the Fallen is the largest bell in the world, made of bronze of cannons from all countries that saw action in World War I.

Roveretoext16

Roveretomuseumext1

When we came to the Depero Futurist House of Art (Casa d’Arte Futurista Depero), I took one look at the building and knew I had to go inside. Elements of modern architecture somehow accented the medieval character of the structure. The building reminded me of the House of the Stone Bell (Dům U kammeného zvonu) in Prague, an exhibition space in a medieval building that is seeping with history. This was the only Futurist museum in Italy, and I wanted to familiarize myself with the movement in which Fortunato Depero (1892-1960) had played a prominent role.

RoveretoDepero1

RoveretoDepero21

RoveretoDepero18

RoveretoDepero12

First, I needed some background information about Depero. He grew up in Rovereto, working with marble and creating art, so it was only fitting that in 1919 he chose this town as the location for the museum that would eventually contain as many as 3,000 of his works. Depero made a name for himself as a painter, sculptor, writer and graphic designer. While living in Rome, he wrote a futurist manifesto and created stage sets and costumes. In 1928, he tried his luck in America, settling in New York City, where he designed costumes for the theatre and created covers for magazines. After a stint of several years, he returned to Italy. Depero remained loyal to the futurist movement, even though it was not as well respected in the 1930s and 1940s because many artists working in that style became fascists during those decades. Due to futurism’s negative image, many abandoned the movement. Not Depero. After World War II, he moved back to the USA, residing in Connecticut. In 1949, he returned to his boyhood home of Rovereto, and he would stay there for the remainder of his life. He was ill for two years before passing in 1960 at the age 68.

RoveretoDepero3

Wall decoration of interior

RoveretoDepero6

It wasn’t until I came to the museum that I became familiar with the movement of Futurism, a movement that was born in Italy during the early 20th century. Futurism rejected the past and celebrated modernity and technological advances. Often its artists portrayed urban environments and industrial cities. Cars and airplanes made frequent appearances. Vehicles were shown in motion, not standing still. However, futurists also tended to praise violence and war. Artists of this movement took up diverse fields – painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, theatre, film, literature and others.

RoveretoDepero17

RoveretoDepero15

The museum was eclectic with furniture, paintings, tapestries, cloth material, drawings, collages, posters, toys and a film, for instance. I loved the dynamic colors, especially the bright orange of one painting and bright pink hues of others. The works indeed looked as if they were in motion. I could see elements of Cubism in the designs. I especially thought of Josef Čapek’s mechanical figures in his paintings, and I could see characteristics of primitive art, too. I was struck by the way some figures resembled machines. In one sculpture in particular I could see the figures in motion. It was as if the sculpture was not standing still, but, of course, it was.

RoveretoDepero7

RoveretoDepero8

RoveretoDepero10

RoveretoDepero11

There were tranquil scenes, such as a woman with a pink face holding a pot on her head, having stopped to talk to a figure smoking a pipe. Some of the furniture seemed to have designs resembling folk themes. In some paintings I saw a dangerous, impersonal city, sharp as a sword. It was as if the buildings themselves had swallowed up humanity. Of course, these are just my personal impressions. I do not know if they are the impressions Depero wanted viewers to have.

RoveretoDepero2

RoveretoDepero5

RoveretoDepero14

I liked the unique museum because it had both a modern and medieval character architecturally, and the many artifacts introduced me to a movement I had known nothing about. I especially was drawn to the pastel colors of some of the works. I learned about an artist who never gave up on futurism, even when many others had given up on the movement. It was somewhat ironic to have a museum dedicated to art that stressed modernity and despised anything old in a town of rich historical content. It was interesting that Depero chose a medieval building as the place to exhibit his works. The exhibition’s location stressed that the old was fused into the new and vice versa, not that the new rejected the old.

Perhaps the irony was part of the beauty of it all, too.

Tracy A. Burns is a writer, proofreader and editor in Prague.

RoveretoDepero19

RoveretoDepero20

RoveretoDepero22

RoveretoDepero23