Spring has sprung – just!

Today’s blog is a 2 day one as we decided after a packed Thursday that we would take it easy on Friday.  So first Thursday.

Our challenge was to use our 3 day Berlin Museum Pass to capacity. And this we did. We first went to Museum Berggruen. It is a bit out of the centre opposite the Schloss (Palace) Charlottenburg. We made heavy weather finding it and lost about half an hour travelling around on buses and trains as we selected the wrong Schlossstrasse 1 in Google maps. We saw parts of Berlin we would never see otherwise! Anyway, got there. The first two museums were a bit off the beaten track so I have given addresses to enable us to recall where we went.

Alberto Giacometti, Tall Nude Standing Iii (1960) (view from below up into the central staircase of Museum Berggruen)

Heinz Berggruen (sure you will be interested in the name, Dave), was a young Jew who was forced to flee Berlin in 1936. He ended up as an art dealer in Paris where he got to know Picasso and his circle and began collecting some favourites. In 1996 the city of Berlin gave him this fantastic gallery to show his stuff. It is a building which wanders up a circular staircase with rooms off it on 3 floors. All white with a wonderful dome at the top. Quite spectacular. We found our visit was terrific. The collection includes a large number of Picassos, and several of each of Cezannes, Giacommetti, Matisse, Braque, Lauren’s, Paul Klee and even a couple of Van Gogh’s. A superb audio is provided and we found ourselves increasing our understanding of all the styles these painters use. We spent 3 hours wandering around.

We grabbed a coffee, and to save time we ate our lunch on the bus and train to get us to the next museum. This one was called the Berlinische Galerie, Museum for Modern Art. It is at Alte Jakobstrasse 124-128, not far from the Jewish museum. Another beautiful space with huge areas for large exhibits, and a large number of smaller galleries. There were a couple of special exhibitions which we covered fairly quickly. They were modern in the extreme for our taste but if modern art is your thing you would find them fantastic. The most accessible was of Cornelia Schleime. She was born in East Berlin in 1953, and studied in East Germany (Dresden) during the era of the German Democratic Republic. She has just won a very prestigious art prize, for life time achievement – the Hannah Hoch prize (she is also one of the artists exhibited). She was part of a young artists’ scene resisting the official art policies which the regime had. In 1981 she was prohibited from exhibiting in East Germany and soon after moved to West Berlin. He canvases are very large, and include portraits, and landscapes with a message.

You might like to read more about her here in Exberliner (a publication especially for expats in Berlin). We thought she was fascinating.

The permanent exhibition was marvellous. It exhibits German art from 1870 to modern day and is an outstanding collection. We found it was a pleasant alternative way of learning about the last 150 years of Germany history, via what artists were portraying. It covered works from conservatives and reformers around 1900, moving onto the beginning of modernity and the Secession movement in Germany. Then moved into the beginning of the Avant-Garde and art after WW1. Quite an emphasis on Berlin as a hub between east and west in the 1920s, moving to Berlin during National Socialism. Berlin after the war had paintings showing the city in ruins, and moving on to art in the shadow of the wall up to 1980. We spent another 3 hours here and found it completely absorbing.

On Thursdays many galleries stay open until 8pm (in fact I think some of them are free after 5 or 6). We used our Museum Pass to go the Pergamon museum again. We had spent an hour or so there earlier in the week but were chased out at closing time. So it was good to spend another couple of hours using the audio guide and learning more about the marvellous exhibition. If you are young enough (probably not us!!) to return here close to 2020 the refurbishing will be finished and it will be even more amazing.

So this was a long day for us. We picked up a pizza from the little Italian place opposite our apartment. It was not long before we were in bed without having touched our blog.

Today, Friday, we decided to take it very easy. This will be of comfort to those who have been reminding us that we are on holiday. We slept and breakfasted late. Then did a big shop and went to the market and got ourselves set up for the coming week. Al has just come back sporting a very smart German hair do. He didn’t have time to get his hair cut before we left home. It’s now 3pm and we may not do much more. Who knows how the spirit will move us?

A final ‘blogging’ note: in case you haven’t discovered it already, if you double tap on one of the gallery images it will come up larger and in a gallery slide show.  The ‘X’ in the top right hand corner takes you back to the blog.


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