CULTURAL GATEWAYS AND HIDDEN CONNECTIONS
Our goal is to walk over to Prinzregentstraße, and then see the apartment house that Hitler lived in (#16). and then continue on to Villa Stuck. So we go to the Isartor (above) and walk along, but away from, the river to Prinzregentstraße and then walk north. We walk past the Haus der Kunst, a museum designed by Otto Troost, which we have visited before, so we don't go in. The building isn't treated well, perhaps it's the provenance of the building itself. There are garish signs and posters plastered all over the face. In spite of its history, I don't like the present treatment. We look for the apartment house but walk right by it, not recognizing it. Instead we encounter lovely autumnal scenes in the Englisher Garten.
There is also the Bavarian State Museum (huge) which we save for another day. It might be that I would be able get my fill of the Baroque and Rococo there. The exteriors are quite inviting.
To get to Villa Stuck we have to cross the Isar, and Prinzregentstraße ends at a marvelous monument to Europa. She stands at the top of a column of victory, supported by a pavilion held up by caryatids and wonderful mosaics tying the monument to Greek legends, gods, and heroes. It is here that we begin to not only cross a bridge, but to make connections as well - but more of that later.
The trees here are approaching full color and the monuments and the plazas that embrace them are filled with unswept golden leaves. "Not very German," Arthur says, "should have been swept up." I find it very romantic and charming. There is an aspect of ruination here that I find attractive. We make our way to Villa Stuck, built by Franz Stuck as a physical statement of his artistic vision. In some respects it bears a resemblance to Lenbachhause. The Wikipedia article on the house and museum is woefully misinformed, describing the interior as a art deco departure from the classicism of the building. Nothing could be farther from the truth, for the interior is filled with classical images. The staircase up to the studio is unabashedly Jugendstil, but that's it.
There are wonderful ceilings through out. The back rooms were damaged during the war, but all has been restored. Here are some images of the various ceilings: with the zodiac -
In an Italian manner -
And then there is that (quite wonderful) Jugendstil ceiling in the stairwell -
I've been acquainted with Von Stuck's work for some time first seeing it in a book on Symbolism, called Dreamers of Decadence, by Phillippe Jullian, which features Von Stuck's work, Die Sünde. We also saw a version of it in Berlin at the Alte Nationalgalerie (along with other wonderful works by Arnold Böcklin, and Ludwig Feuerbach). Here it is included in an altar, which also includes sculptural references to himself and to his wife.
The gardens are full of classical elements, stele with heads of Pericles, Plato, etc., the she-wolf of Rome, and bas reliefs at the end of long porticoes, along with some amazing metal work.
It was the mail slot, however, at Villa Stuck, that got me to thinking about connections and cultural bridges. Had I not read Adam Nicolson's Why Homer Matters, I might not have thought in the way that I am. First of all the mail slot -
The head of the Gorgon receives your postcards! Nicolson, in searching for the historic Homer (he comes to the conclusion that there were many - that it was a literary and cultural process) also pushes back the date in which the events of the Iliad and Odyssey were first formed. He images a time fresh off the steppes and gradual movement into the Mediterranean world. It was a time of violent battle, and horrific images. While walking home we saw this in a storefront:
There is a technical German word for this sort of thing, but it escapes me now. What it brought to mind, along with the Gorgon head, were the images and myth that surround hunt, battle, and bloodshed. Mary Beard in her book, The Parthenon Enigma rethinks the imagery and iconography of the frieze that surrounds the Parthenon. Her interpretation allows for the prospect that what we see depicted there is human sacrifice. We see the classical period as whitewashed, with all the colors that originally defined the statuary and monuments of ancient Greece faded away into a gentle and calming grey. As I see the devotion (here in München, and also in Wien, and other places) to the classical period, I also see the stories of violence and bloodshed that they really represent, and that we can no longer see. I'm nattering on, but I think there is a natural proclivity that connects to totems of ancient German lands, to the ancient stories of Greece that came down to us in Homer. The reflections and shadows of that literature and history are somehow connected to the images that grace our public buildings and monuments.
There's nothing like Baroque to take one out of that frame of mind. On our way back we put our heads into Annaklöster, a baroque church connected to the convent that supports the work at Saint Anne's Church, across the street. Later, on my own, I also stopped into Heiligen Geist (above) that has been beautifully restored. The flow of its columns and arches took me into another world. All the stories that our various cultures support and give meaning to life are simply amazing. The last image, however, is fundamentally German, and fundamentally delicious.
Potatoes at the Viktualienmarkt in München.