My madcap adventures in Germany during my year as a Fulbright Scholar.

27 August 2006

Lange Nacht der Museen, part one

My night began at 18.00 (See how German I'm becoming?) at the Kulturforum. The city was starting to get busy, and I followed a big crowd to the museums located there. I went in but missed the big sign pointing the way to the Rembrandt paintings and instead headed for the main galleries of the Gemäldegalerie. They were all but deserted (completely undeservedly). The Gemäldegalerie is a paradise for lovers of northern European art (especially from the medieval and renaissance/early modern periods). There were rooms full of Cranachs (one of the pictures of skinny, naked women and two Adam and Eve pics), Hans Holbein the Youngers (a beautiful weeping Maria and what appears to be an early modern nursing bra, serious), Albrecht Dürers (Has anybody else noticed that his paintings of women look like men?), and a fabulous collection of Robert Campins and Rogier van der Weydens, including this one:

There's a painting by Hieronymous Bosch, the famous Brueghel "Dutch Proverbs" (Speaking of which, I'm thinking of going back to the museum store to buy a poster of this for my apartment. The question is, will early modern art really mesh with the Swedish modern aesthetic I have going?), some Rubens and Frans Hals, and this famous painting by Jean Fouquet:

The detail was absolutely beautiful and can't be appreciated on that photo. I wanted to reach out and touch the velvet on his robe, it was so realistic. There were also TWO Vermeers (the girl trying on the pearl necklace and the couple drinking wine), and the galleries were EMPTY! I couldn't believe it. This museum has everything: Maria in every conceivable form (weeping, nursing, enthroned, etc.), fabulous copies of fabulous paintings (Bosch, van der Weyden), and plenty of gore and torture and representations of Hell. I could easily have spent the whole night there, but there were plenty of other museums to see. As soon as the art began to get more modern, I tuned out (although there was one very cool painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds). And I didn't even mention the Fra Angelicos, the Fra Filippo Lippis, the Mantegnas or the Botticelli.

I then breezed through two of the three parts of the Rembrandt exhibit: etchings and drawings. I don't know what to say about them, except that they were wonderful and perfect, just like mini-Rembradt-paintings. I then went in search of the R. paintings and paid for the wonderful ninety minutes of alone time in the other galeries by waiting in a huge line. I was well equipped with a book, and the thirty-minute wait went fairly quickly. By 20.00 I was standing in a small octagonal (or perhaps hexagonal) room (painted hunter green, of all colors) containing thirty-five paintings. It was amazing to see so many Rembrandts together in one room; there were paintings on loan from New York, Washington, D.C., London, Paris, Toronto, Russia, and Amsterdam, as well as a couple from the Gemäldegalerie's permanent collection. There were four wonderful paintings of Titus, his son, and several beautiful portrayals of the holy family, with each one looking like a normal, middle-class Dutch couple. They had two nearly identical paintings on display of "Joseph Accused by Potiphar's Wife," one by Rembrandt and one by a follower, to demonstrate the difficulty of making an accurate attribution. Also on display was one of the most famous paintings: the man in the gold helmet, which has fairly recently been unattributed (deattributed?) to R. and is believed to be the work of a student. But this painting was my favorite (Sara waiting for Tobias):

After viewing the Rembrandts I left the museum and took this photo of Potsdamer Platz all lit up (Sorry it's a bit fuzzy):

It was such a beautiful night; the picture doesn't even begin to capture it. Mostly what the photo misses is the atmosphere. There was live music playing (something vaguely classical, but with a modern adaptation, if that makes any sense) and tents set up selling wine and beer and the place was buzzing.

Well, I think that's enough for now, but don't worry, there's more. Oh, and in case you're wondering how I'm able to recount so many details, I'm writing this post from my notes. (Yes, I took notes; I already admitted I'm a big nerd. This is just further proof.)

One footnote for any art history buffs:
The Gemäldegalerie had a handful of paintings by Frans Hals on display, but try as I might, I couldn't find a Judith Leyster. The state museums of Berlin have every other major northern European artist and many minor ones, why not her? I realize she wasn't as prolific as Hals, but why do you think she's missing from this museum?



Blogger pat said...

Tante Pat is rather envious! Sounds like you're having a great time. Post something over at the Lounge when you can.
Um...when does school start?

3:12 AM


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