I like art galleries and museums, in particular modern art, something that strains the brain a bit. Berlin is a pretty big deal in the modern-art world so when Lauren asked what I wanted to do one day, we went to the Hamburger Bahnhof, at one time the station where you got the train to Hamburg, now an Art museum, and old railway stations make good ones.

Of course, most modern art is complete rubbish, just like most art was back when da Vinci was working. So when you invest a few hours, that’s a high-risk investment. The show at the Hamburger is entitled Schmerz which to say “Pain”, and yeah, it was kind of painful. Little of it spoke to me; oh well. Maybe next time.

Off in the side gallery they had a retrospective from Brice Marden, of whom I’d never heard; his work left me pretty cold, but the rooms and installation were nice.

Brice Marden retrospective at the Hamburger Bahnhof

The above were among the more dynamic works; a few of the big white rooms were inhabited only by a few pale-brown or pale-grey rectangles. I had to feel sorry for the guards, one per room, who had to stand there all day. There’s some Schmerz for ya.

Off the back of the main building, there was this narrow but immensely long shed that had a bunch of exhibits under the theme There is never a stop and never a finish. Once again, few of them did much for me, but the hallway down the side was oddly compelling.

There is never a stop and never a finish, at the Hamburger Bahnhof

Heh, after I started writing this I ran across a visit to the same museum in David Byrne’s Journal; he even took a picture (the other way) down the same hallway.

Here’s a view in the main hall of the former train station; I should go track down who the artist is because the piece was pretty dramatic. The room helps.

Hamburger Bahnhof

Off in another wing was what was maybe a permanent exhibition, with work from an artist I’d actually heard of, Joseph Beuys. My fave there was the medicinal cello. Yes, I know there are reflections on the glass, I like them.

Red Cross Cello by Joseph Beuys

I really recommend an occasional afternoon with the modern muse. You may find yourself wondering if the artists are mad, or you are, or the world is. Which is a good thing to think about.



Contributions

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From: Robert Sayre (Jul 11 2007, at 20:41)

That piece in the main hall has to be an Anselm Kiefer. Next time you're in NYC, you should check out "Bohemia By The Sea" at the MET.

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From: Ross Reedstrom (Jul 12 2007, at 21:53)

The comment about most art in da Vinci's time being rubbish resonates with me. It is common to neglect the winnowing effect of time on all cultural artifacts. Things fall apart: that's entropy. The things that survive are either massively over built (think the pyramids), or specifically chosen and preserved by someone, for reasons of their own.

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July 11, 2007
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