Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin

If you’re in Berlin and love fashion history (and decorative / applied arts in general!), make sure to visit Kunstgewerbemuseum. The sheer breadth of the collection is impressive, encompassing a wide variety of materials and forms of craftwork, fashion and design from the early Middle Ages to the present day. The collection’s extensive range of costumes and accessories from the 18th to 20th centuries is presented to visitors since the reopening of the museum in 2014 in a newly conceived fashion gallery. Dresses from the 1960s designed by Jean Patou, Christóbal Balenciaga, and Jean Dessès; Mariano Fortuny’s breath-taking Delphos dresses; 18th century panniers and 19th century crinolines… it’s brilliant. Jugendstil and Art Deco are also well represented at the Kunstgewerbemuseum with glassware from Emile Gallé, pieces of furniture by Henry van de Velde and the glass doors of César Klein. The collection comprises famous and influential design classics such as furniture by Bruno Paul, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer as well as tableware from Wilhelm Wagenfeld. And… in the neighbouring building, there’s the exhaustive Gemäldegalerie with paintings from 13th to 18th century, and it’s also worth visiting.

Matthäikirchplatz / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

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Dries Van Noten Beauty

During my recent Berlin trip, I finally had the chance to discover the Dries Van Noten beauty line IRL at Andreas Murkudis (which is the only retailer in Germany who stocks these goodies). I wasn’t disappointed. For most designers, perfume and cosmetics are a rite of passage; they waste little time getting into the lucrative businesses. But not Dries Van Noten. For over three decades, he has been one of fashion’s rare independent operators who made his name not on licenses, but on clothes. And yet the 63-year-old is probably better suited to these things than many of his peers. “I said I wanted a rose perfume that is kind of a punch – really not a sweet, beautiful, feminine thing. It had to be something that men could easily wear. That was kind of the symbol of how we started to work,” he says of his fragrance lineup, which includes Neon Garden, one of the scents the designer himself has taken to wearing that pairs the freshness of mint with powdery iris, and Jardin de l’Orangerie, which blends traditional orange blossom with sandalwood for a grounded, earthy effect. What Van Noten didn’t want: “easygoing” perfumes. “I think there’s already so much out there in the market. The idea was that every perfume really tells a story – in my fashion, I’m also a storyteller,” he told Vogue. In total, the new line includes 10 genderless eaux de parfums alongside 30 lipsticks, a lip balm, as well as a select few soaps and creams. The collection also includes a series of accessories, such as a mirror, a comb, and more. The scents are personal, and so too are the apothecary-inspired bottles that they come in. Each is meticulously designed and outfitted with a cap that features the brand name engraved onto it. The bottles are colored to match the scent inside, and is bound to become a centerpiece on your beauty shelf as soon as you add them to your collection. As for the beauty offerings, the 30 lipsticks are available to shop in a range of three finishes. Fifteen of them have a satin look, 10 have a matte appearance, and five will be sheer. While some are neutral-toned, the collection also includes a vibrant purple shade, proving that the brand’s love of color runs deep. The lipsticks in this new collection are just as much about the final payoff as they are about the process of applying and playing with them. With this in mind, you can also buy a lip brush to go along with the shade of your choosing. What’s important, sustainability was also key in the new collection. Aside from being reusable and refillable, the lipsticks are packaged without plastic. Love!

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.
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Humboldt Forum

Artistic carvings from Oceania, wooden figures and masks from Cameroon, a Japanese teahouse and sounds from around the world: the exhibitions from the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in the brand new Humboldt Forum offer an eclectic view into the past and present cultures of Africa, America, Asia and Oceania. Around 20,000 archaeological, ethnological and art-historical exhibits offer multiple perspectives on universal themes of humanity. Media installations as an introduction to the exhibitions, Schaumagazin exhibition spaces filled with a varied selection of objects, areas for cultural education, spaces designed by international architects and works of contemporary art pose questions about the history of the objects and place the collections in the context of our present-day world. Definitely worth a visit when in Berlin!

Schloßplatz / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

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Paul Gauguin – Why Are You Angry?

Paul Gauguin was one of the central trailblazers of Modern art, and his most famous paintings were produced on the Pacific island of Tahiti between 1891 and 1901. “Paul Gauguin – Why Are You Angry?” at the Alte Nationalgalerie looks at Gauguin’s oeuvre – which was also shaped by Western, colonial ideas of ‘the exotic’ and ‘the erotic’ – juxtaposing the works with historical material from both Gauguin’s past and his present, and with international contemporary art.  Gauguin left the art capital of Paris, his wife and five children in 1891 to embark on a spiritual and artistic quest to French Polynesia, where he lived until his death, apart from one interlude. It was in this period that Gauguin created one of his major works, the painting Tahitian Fisherwomen (1891) from the Nationalgalerie’s collection.

Against the backdrop of historical influences and postcolonial debates, the exhibition interrogates Gauguin’s self-created myth of the “savage artist”. Gauguin made recourse to a colonialist dream of an earthly paradise, but at the same time managed to articulate a completely novel artistic vision. Paul Gauguin – Why Are You Angry? approaches Gauguin from various angles, and also provides a contemporary perspective through works by artists such as Angela Tiatia (New Zealand), Yuki Kihara (Samoa) and Nashashibi/Skaer (United Kingdom), along with the Tahitian activist and multi-artist Henri Hiro (French Polynesia).

Open until the 10th of July / Bodestraße 1-3 / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

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Berlinische Galerie

Berlinische Galerie seeks to portray Berlin’s art history in new and surprising ways with room for every genre and style. This sometimes reveals unexpected threads in the fabric, and international networking by the art community is part of that weave. Berlin is a city of artists, and here you can truly sense it. The museum show sthe classics, but also responds quickly to the latest trends in contemporary art. The programme is undogmatic, thought-provoking and sometimes controversial – but then so is Berlin. The instituion offers an interdisciplinary collection that includes painting and sculpture, prints and drawings, photography and architecture, all dating from 1870 until the present day. This makes Berlinische Galerie fundamentally different from other exhibition venues in the German capital.

Till the end of May, you could enjoy here the fascinating, temporary exhibition entitled “Images in Fashion – Clothing in Art“. Fashion and art are mirrors of social changes and individual needs, and in the collection of the Berlinische Galerie, this theme is present in surprising and diverse ways. In addition to numerous fashion photographs spanning the 20th century (from Helmut Newton to Ute Mahler), just as many paintings and drawings testify to the role of fashion as a means of expression and representation of a particular era: from the reform dress around 1900 and the Dada dandies of the 1920s to avant-garde clothing designs in contemporary art. You can read more about this exhibition here!

Until the end of August, there’s also the Nina Canell exhibition going on. Her artistic practice does not revolve around the finished artwork; instead, it foregrounds process, synergy and entanglement. For the Berlinische Galerie, she has conceived an experiential installation that considers the material vitality of calcite. Literally crumbling under our own weight, seven tonnes of shells speak up from the ground, causing a sensation remote from that of walking on a gallery floor. Yet, crushed calcite from marine molluscs is an essential ingredient in concrete, a major constituent of our built environment. Here, the biomineral forms that feed the construction industry break down over the course of the exhibition. Material stress gives way to a sounding, durational sculpture, inviting us to consider the ineffable number of broken bodies that hold us up. This exhibition brings together several of Canell’s sculptural works and a video created with long-term collaborator Robin Watkins. Considering the overlaps between minerals, animals, energies and technologies, “Tectonic Tender” reflects the artist’s commitment to duration and circulation as fundamental sculptural tools.

Alte Jakobstraße 124-128 / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki

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