28 October 2015

Dienstag und Mittwoch, 27 und 28 Oktober 2015


One thing I've noticed here in München, is that at the end of the meal when we have asked for die Rechnung, we are always greeted with "Zusammen?" (Together?), something that would never be asked in San Francisco. Yes, indeed, we are together, and what a delightful trip this has been. Here is Arthur in der Hofgarten, as we make our way to the Bayerisher Nationalmuseum on Prinzregentenstraße. It turned out to be a very interesting collection and experience. On our way there however, just after Haus der Kunst, there is a brief bit of der Englishergarten, with a rushing stream. As we crossed over it, we never expected this:

There were about seven young men all hanging ten on this little river in the middle of Munich. Quite amusing. The museum, however, thrusts you into a different world.

Here is the banquet service of the prince-bishop of Hildesheim, all silver. This is when you realize that the whole nature of Christianity has changed (at least in some places) and that a whole new set of values seems to obtain. The collection of baroque and rococo artifacts here is amazing, and I'm not quite certain as to why I find it so fascinating. Even the human form becomes subject to a kind of "twisted" and heightened reality.

Like cubism, impressionism, and all the other isms, it attempts to get beneath the surface of human existence and to reveal something beyond. This "problem" has been explored quite deeply here in Munich, and some later thoughts about realism, "degenerate art", Nazism, and more about granularity will follow.

The medieval collection is quite good as well, with vestments, ivories, woodwork, and stained glass, all of which strive to do the same thing - to get at the reality behind the story - the human story. There is an amazing collection of krippen as well, and a rather large one at that. It surprised me to see "krippen" that depicted the passion as well as the flight into Egypt and the slaughter at Bethlehem. People were working to see and understand the story.

We had a wonderful lunch at the museum, one of the best. Another plus was that the museum was largely empty, so we moved at our leisure.

It's now Wednesday, and we have saved something special for last - Pinakothek der Moderne. Gathered with the Altes, the Neues, and the collections at Königsplatz, it provides a strong artistic center to Munich. The Neues is closed right now for some repairs, and I was sad that we would have to miss it. I wanted Arthur to see it as he has not been there. We've been to the Altes, with its wonderful collections of Dürer and Cranach, so we made the time for something that we hadn't seen, the Moderne. 

One special exhibition was on "Entarte Kunst", or "Degenerate Art", an exhibition put together by Adolph Ziegler, the artist of the Four Elements above, (one wag called him the "master of German pubic hair"). The picture hung in the sitting room of der Führer Haus, just a few meters away down the street. The Moderne had gathered together several pieces to highlight this exhibition which was to highlight the exhibition of German art that opened the Haus der Kunst. Two contrasting pieces (along with others) were used by the Moderne to highlight the dialogue between the two approaches.

The one contrasting piece was Max Beckmann's The Temptation of Saint Anthony which was included in the degenerate art exhibition and shows how different the two approaches were. The other piece that was hung in contrast to Ziegler's piece was Francis Bacon's Crucifixion

I am fond of both Bacon and Beckmann, but the Bacon work slips well beyond its title and our understanding of that story and how it relates to life. It was a marvelous room of contrasts and I enjoyed it very much. There were also a fine collection of Blaue Reiter pieces, especially interesting after our visit to Lehnbachhause. One disappointment was that I could find nothing by Franz Kline.

This was a concept car from the 30s, and I could not get enough of it. There is a wonderful design collection at the Moderne, including computers, furniture, business machines, lamps, and the usual ceramics and metalwork. This next piece amazed me as well for its sheer beauty.

Radio transmission equipment

There were also a large collection of video works, which artists I did not recognize. One, by Rineke Dijkstra, was a video of people at the Buzzclub in Liverpool, England. It brought granularity to a new height. I found myself watching the movements of someone listening to music and looking at each hand gesture, facial expression, and clothing. It was embarrassingly intimate.

I'd like to talk about machines for a second, and I hope I have the ability to express myself here. At the Deutsches Museum, and here at the Moderne there were large collections of instrumentation and machines. Each represented a stage of our development as a people who manage our world and our environment. What became engaging for me was "the ghosts" in each machine, i.e., the people who worked to get us to that point. As we were looking at early computers, the guts of which were displayed for us, Arthur talked about how his father described early computing as (I think he said) "rings and wires." The machines were silent, but you could still sense their power - especially when I looked at the Enigma machine.

And what's really odd, troubling, or wonderful, is that these machines can either divide us (granularity) or bring us together. 

Arthur always looks out for my best interest. On our walk home he discovered, on a map, a Klöster in the neighborhood in which we are staying - Herz Jesu. And there it was with its silence and beauty. As a result of that discovery, across the street was a new restaurant, Noun. It was one of the best meals that we have had here - I recommend it highly. 

Now to bed, and on the morrow to pack.

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