05 December 2011

A Nexus of Style

Day 9, Saturday, 3 December 2011 - Charlottenburg und Reich

The best laid plans...  Our intent was to go to the Museum Berggruen, but it is closed.  Luckily, right across the street (we're avoiding the Weinachtsmarkt at the Schloß) is the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg.  The Berggreun would have given us Picasso, et. al., but this collection will move us into the symbolists, whom I spoke of in connection with Arnold Böcklin on Wednesday.

But we need a quick tangent.  The building in which this collection is exhibited used to house the Egyptian Collection now housed at the Neues.  It is here that I first saw it, so I startled a bit when as we entered the Collection I saw to my right the Entrance to the Temple at Kalabshas.  I turned to Arthur and said, "I think they forgot something!"  Indeed they had, there are also several sets of columns now standing in the Collection's theatre.  How odd, it seems to me, to not keep the collection together.  With that bubbling in our minds we turned to the actual items on exhibition.

As I entered the first salon I saw many of the prints from Max Klinger's Ein Handschuh (A glove) a fantasy on an ordinary glove that I first became acquainted with in Dreamers of Decadence.  There was more.  Wonderful prints and drawings by Goya, Piranesi, Dali, Klee, Ernst, and Dubuffet, and sculpture by Lipchitz and Ernst. Of special interest to me was one painting by Gustav Moreau, and several pieces by Odile Redon.

In the theatre they play a series of films, including La chien andalu, which we needed to see.  It's a very interesting collection. I wish more people would go and see it.

Here there is a troubling message as well.  A great deal of the collection, once wrested back from the Nazi's ended up in Russia and is now being displayed in a museum there.  Here, as in the notices at the Neues, the notices comment on the illegality of the Russian acquisitions - a difficult topic, here in Germany.

Afterward we go to a museum we have visited before, the Bröhan Museum, which documents the Jugendstil, and subsequent movements in the arts and crafts.  The relationships between the symbolists across the street and the collection at the Bröhan make the appreciation of both deeper and more interesting.  The second floor exhibition of paintings under the general description of "Berlin Life" is a bit jarring, since the lives depicted seem strained, mundane, and droll.  It's an odd contrast to the luxury of items on the other floors.

We have coffee on our way home, and then take a nap at the hotel.  We are scheduled for a dinner at 20:00 at the Reichstag.  We get there on time to go through passport control (yes) and all the other stuff once only known to airports.  Once through the gauntlet, we are ushered into dinner at Käfir, a truly wonderful experience.  We begin with some small delights - a parsnip soup, a geleé that includes smoked salmon, and a shot glass filled with a piece of venison with a sparkling foam on cranberry.  Next is a soup of chestnuts, with something floating in it - the nature of which we couldn't determine.  The main was wild hare with spätzle, potato, grünkohl, and a reduction of red wine.  Finally there was a dessert of celery creme brûlée, a passion fruit sorbet, and nougat.  

What is truly wonderful, is that by the time we leave, very few people are in the restaurant, and the dome is still open to us.  So we get to wander freely and slowly, soaking in the sights.  Food, images, and monumentality have done us in.  Time to go back to the hotel.

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