Berlin 7 – street art…..September 2014

I know, I know, six should be enough blogs so this is a short one!

I just couldn’t leave Berlin without posting some of the street art and graffiti Some of them might be well known but some are a changing feast.

Just as anarchist/left wing Berlin has a real presence but is slowly shrinking so too, street art is said to be dwindling.

The main examples I saw were in Prinzlauer Berg and Hackesche Hof (where I also went to the Cabaret). They covered the gamut from spray painting to paper cutouts to stencils to throw ups. In Hackesche Hof I watched an artist take great care when removing and replacing a work

But here I will just post some of my favourites so that I remember them and the odd friend might enjoy!2014-09-11 22.05.40-1

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Berlin 6 – On the street……..September 2014

From the gallery on the Wall

 From the gallery on the Wall

Perhaps Berlin was best summed up be a 26 year old Finnish girl we dined with one night. When asked why she had chosen this city she answered that she is here because there is freedom and everyone is accepted and no-one thought odd. Then she added: “Elsewhere you live 50%. Here you live 100%”. What a kaleidoscope of experiences Berlin was. How did I experience so much (phew, 5 blogs to date) in little over a fortnight? Still I haven’t shown anything like the richness of the city. Nor did I enjoy many of the experiences the city has to offer. Perish the thought that this Game Old Dame should have enjoyed the hip club scene —  though my young friend assures me that ageism isn’t an issue here (as it isn’t in much of Europe). I have decided to give up on the narrative in this blog and let the pictures speak for themselves in no particular order except my favourite is first.

A impressionist photo of a surreal scene. An italian book group philosophising  chairs in a circle on the footpath.

My impressionist photo of a surreal scene. An italian book group philosophising, chairs in a circle on the footpath at dusk

Hip Berlin...an art space in containers in Prinzlauer Berg, once rundown and alternative and now said to be 'pram central' as the hip age and the suburb has gentrified.

Hip Berlin…an art space in containers in Prinzlauer Berg, once rundown and alternative and now said to be ‘pram central’ as the hip age and the suburb has gentrified.

This little vela swings out over the river in front of a the reggae  Yaam bar with sandy floor in Friedrichhhshain

This little fella swings out over the river in front of  the reggae Yaam Bar with its sandy floor in Friedrichshain

A bank agency where you can't withdraw money but you can sit in the deck chairs on the street.

A bank agency where you can’t withdraw money but you can sit in the deck chairs on the street.

Adam and Eve in the restored brewery in Prenzlauer Berg now home to arts and education groups.

Adam and Eve in the restored brewery in Prenzlauer Berg now home to arts and education groups.

Great florists abound all over .

                                                    Great florists abound 

A quick game of the three thimble trick.

                                                      A furtive game of the three thimble trick.

beats me what they were marketing in this store.

                     Beats me what they were marketing in this store….perhaps a hairdresser?.

The Sunday antique market with the ever present  blue  pipe perpetually draining the swamp below the city.

The Sunday antique market with the ever present blue pipe perpetually draining the swamp below the city.

Concrete blocks hold the blue drainage pipes and on many a block is an exhortation from a famous person Goethe, Dante, Voltaire, Gandhi, U.Ecco. This one was from Woody Allen and roughly translates as:

Concrete blocks hold the blue drainage pipes and on many a block are wise words from a famous person such as Goethe, Dante, Voltaire, Gandhi, U.Ecco. This one was from Woody Allen and roughly translates as: ‘Reaching into his own pocket he finds time and time again, the official hand was already there’.

The Turkish market

                                                                   The Turkish market

Out os the blue these dinner suited gents came strolling along at Potsdamer Platz in neat formation.

Out of the blue these dinner suited gents came strolling along at Potsdamer Platz in neat formation.

There's always a commercial opportunity - one of three mobile loos along the East Side Gallery on the Wall

There’s always a commercial opportunity – one of three mobile loos along the East Side Gallery on the Wall

At the mega hip Zoo bar where the crowd looks down into the monkey enclose. (and I suppose the monkey look up at the hip drinkers.

At the mega hip Zoo bar where the crowd looks down into the monkey enclosure. (And I suppose the monkeys look up at the hip drinkers.)

So I'm walking alone almost in the centre when I see a garden and in it - sheep. It was a Steiner school with its grounds open to the public on the weekends, such enlightened people.

So I’m walking alone almost in the centre when I see a garden and in it – sheep. It was a Steiner school with its grounds open to the public on the weekends, such enlightened people.

Enjoying the hookah on the banks of the Spree

                                         Enjoying the hookah on the banks of the Spree

Dancing the tango in a park at Mitte

                                               Dancing the tango in a park at Mitte      

A Game Old dame having a well deserved marguerita

                                            A Game Old Dame having a well deserved marguerita

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Berlin 5 – Archaeology, Art and Architecture

I have a small booklet that lists 92 museums and galleries in Berlin and that’s without all those private art galleries which were on display for Art Week 2014.

WOW! IMAGINE! Any wonder it’s a contender for the world’s best city.

Any wonder I only had time to cherry pick the BIG ONES? (and not all of those either). Any wonder I need an aide memoire for the years to come?

Archaeology

After travelling to the Middle Eastern cradles of civilisation in better times (Syria, Iran, Egypt, Jordan), the Pergamonmuseum was top of my Berlin shopping list. On Museum Island the big three are the Greek Pergamon Altar, Nefertiti (at Neues Museum) and for me, the knockout, the ISHTAR GATE.

The Ishtar Gate - no photograph of mine could do it justice.

The Ishtar Gate – no photograph of mine could do it justice.

Walking into the museum and seeing the Gate was one of too rare occasions when you see something and an amazed smile of joy spread over your face and perhaps a “wow!” comes from your mouth.

Nebuchadnezzar II built this Babylonian town gate more than half a millennium BC. The radiant blue reconstructed gate contains elements of the original and parts of Babylonian processional way are on other walls.

The highly all-suffusing ornate 17th century Aleppo Room was another reminder of the tragedies that have recently overtaken the former Mesopotamia, once the centre of great civilization.

At the Neues Museum I had a different response. Perhaps we are too used to the head of Nefertiti; like the Mona Lisa it did not move me but the Trojan Collection did and in a different way. Having been to Troy I felt uneasy at the remaining antiquities Schliemann had taken from his 1870 dig at Troy. Perhaps one day they will return there. What is worse, most items from the collection were taken to Russia after the Soviet liberated Berlin in 1945 and only replicas remain. 

 

The Berlin Gold Hat, 3000 years old and one of 4 found owrldwide. There are astronomical symbols around the brim which probably predicted the movements of the sun and moon.

The Berlin Gold Hat, 3000 years old and one of 4 found owrldwide. There are astronomical symbols around the brim which probably predicted the movements of the sun and moon.

Art

While Berlin is impressive in the range and amount of art it has, somehow it lacks a profile in “the majors of the majors”. When I think of the range of great art in the Prado, the renaissance splendour of the Uffizi, the story of Van Gogh in Amsterdam or the collection in the Quai d’ Orsay, then Berlin’s greats don’t cut the mustard for me. But it does have paintings well worth the visit.

The Germaldegalerie was built in 1998 in the Arts Precinct and this charming building houses Berlin’s collection of Old Masters. The Canalettos were a particular pleasure. Vermeer’s Woman with a Pearl Necklace was one to remember but maybe as a codicil to his more famous Girl with a Pearl!

The painting that resonated with me probably has something to do with my age! In 1546 Lucas Cranach painted Fountain of Youth. Withered old people step into a pool and the waters do their magic; all emerge young and beautiful.

Fantasising the fountain of youth goes back a long way!

Imagine half a millennium ago and probably as far back as the first humanoid began to age, the same anxieties/obsessions, the same dreaming of lost youth and beauty or at least of good health, played on the mind.

It’s a fine painting too.

The Neue Nationalgalerie was designed by Miles van der Rohe and holds Berlin’s enjoyable 20th century collection. Unfortunately some of the door staff lacked a little charm. My favourite was Studio an oversized 3 part painting by Gerhard Richter.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter

The collection has much political art. Man with Mask a life size bronze by Wolfgang Mattheuer (1979/84) is one of a number about the individual and society. The artist‘s impassioned face hides behind a public sheep mask showing the significance of conformity during the GDR period.

Life in the GDR

Life in the GDR

The KW Institute, for Contemporary Art displays multi media installations and underground art from around the world. Current works included:   —   artist and friends traumatised on multi screens exploring an abandoned masonic building; screen and floor projected views of the female body (from memory in digitised close ups and slow fades).Yep! Interesting!

Getting photo at the KW gallery

Getting photo at the KW gallery

Next door to KW is a private gallery with another café showing works from the Sandretto Re Rabaidenego Collection. Lots of exotica but also mainstream.

Here's a room of Self from Sandro

Here’s a room of Self from the Sandretto Re Rabaidnego Collection

In the private Galerie Gerken on Liniensrasse were contemporary canvasses by Ethiopian artist Tegene Kunbi. I would have brought the one below home had I more mojo (and less caution about money).

If only I had brought it home!

If only I had brought it home! It’s better than my pic.

Just a small mention of this terrific bronze outside the Kathy Kollwitz Gallery. Her black and white sketches did not ring my bell but the sculptures are wonderful.

 A Kathy Kollwitz bronze outside her museum

A Kathy Kollwitz bronze outside her Gallery

Before we leave art, here's a Damien Hurst hologram I saw in a photography gallery somewhere.

Before we leave art, here’s a Damien Hurst hologram I saw in a photography gallery somewhere.

To conclude this meagre collection from the wealth of what is  available, I just want to note that a few samples of the very important (albeit deminishing) street art of Berlin is in the very last blog and that I have failed to examine other important contemporary arts centres such as the Bethanien in Kreuzberg, housed in a former hospital built in 1847 by  Frederick William IV.

lArchitecture

In Berlin 70 % of the city was destroyed during WWII and more taken out by the death strip of the Wall. Architecturally, as in other ways, Berlin is a city that has been continuously created. Almost everything old is new again and somethings new are actually the renovated old.

An urban planning degree didn’t give me the skills to identify the provenance of much of the built form, to definitively recognise the Prussian (new or old), the communist and the western reconstruction. Were I lucky enough to visit Berlin again, I would seek an architectural guide to help me sort it.

New and old or both new?

New and old or both new?

Definitely new!

Definitely new????

Original, renovated, reconstructed?

Original, renovated, reconstructed?

Old squat, smart neighbourhood, it may not last long but it is authentic.

Old squat, smart neighbourhood, it may not last long but it is authentic.

Taking the city into the 21st century is the post 1989 redevelopment particularly around Potsdam Platz.

Renzo Piano and Kohlbecker master planned a sector which integrated an area into the nearby cultural precinct. There is a Piano building and an office building by Arata Isozaki. The commercial building by Richard Rogers was my favourite. The casino and the musical theatre are in this precinct as is (I think) the Blue Man Theatre where a fun evening was spent.

Nearby is the busy and iconic Sony centre full of life including a few ‘Australian’ bars.

The roof of the Sony Centre with part of the original building incorporated.

The roof of the Sony Centre with part of the original building incorporated.

A wall of the Sony centre

A wall of the Sony centre

On of the 2 Richard Roberts buildings

One of the 2 matching/adjoining Richard Rogers buildings

A short walk away is the cultural precinct with the Germaldegalerie, the older Miles der Rohe’s Neue National, a new public library under construction and the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall.

The one on the right is the Berlin Philharmonic concert hall

The one on the right is the Berlin Philharmonic concert hall

Here's the acoustically great interior.

Here’s the acoustically great interior.

Deutche Bank at Brandenburg Gate has a Frank Ghery sculptured foyer that can be glimpsed through bars. But my very favourite Berlin architecture is the IM Pei addition to the German Historical Museum.

This a great museum with a comprehensively curated collection; even if the subject were of no interest, the Pei addition, as light as air and as delicate as spun sugar, would make the visit a must.

The IM Pei addition

The IM Pei addition

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