“The Woven Child”: Louise Bourgeois Retrospective in Berlin

The Woven Child” is the first major survey to focus exclusively on Louise Bourgeois’ fabric-based works. The exhibition charts the artists’s lifelong connection to textiles, and the memories they conjure, through a diverse body of sculptures, installations, drawings, collages, books and prints. Bourgeois’ fabric works, that she only began working on in her eighties, are among her most compelling and intimate creations. The late decision to create artworks from her clothes and household textiles was a means of transforming as well as preserving the past. Bourgeois incorporated these objects, which held memories associated with specific places and people, into sculptural installations that are on display at the Gropius Bau, such as her Cells and free-standing “pole pieces”. The exhibition sheds a new light on Bourgeois by linking her fabric works to her material processes, her own biography, and themes of the body, memory, femininity, trauma and repair. Highly recommend, the exhibition and Bourgeois’ oeuvre absolutely absorbs the soul!

Curated by Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery, and Julienne Lorz. Exhibition open until 23rd of October 2022.

Gropius Bau / Berlin / Niederkirchnerstraße 7

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.
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Beirut & THe Golden 60s At Gropius Bau

Until the 12th of June, there’s an incredible exhibition going on at Berlin‘s Gropius Bau. “Beirut and the Golden Sixties: A Manifesto of Fragility” revisits a dazzling yet moving chapter in Beirut’s modern history. Spanning the period between the late 1950s and the 1970s, from the Lebanon Crisis in 1958 to the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975, the exhibition traces the complicated tension between Beirut’s artistic cosmopolitanism and its pervasive transregional and political antagonisms. At that time, the city’s character was shaped by the influx of people and their inexhaustible ideas. A heterogeneous mix of artists from Lebanon and abroad articulated their different and sometimes contradictory visions of modernity. Their drive for formal innovation was often as strong as their political convictions. With 230 works by 34 artists and more than 300 archival documents from nearly 40 collections, this is the most comprehensive exhibition to date of a crucial period in Beirut’s history. It reveals the complex connections between the city’s past and its current problems and challenges the romanticized portrayal of Beirut’s so-called Golden Age, which ended in the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. Beirut and the Golden Sixties: A Manifesto of Fragility tells the story of a city’s hunger for life and its contradictory ambitions.

Niederkirchnerstraße 7 / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

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Neue Nationalgalerie

The Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin is dedicated to 20th century art – and the place itself is an artwork. The museum is the last major project completed by the internationally famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. His long-term preoccupation with creating fluid, open spaces culminated in the design of the glazed upper pavilion of the gallery. With its steel roof and gracefully austere architectural language, the Neue Nationalgalerie not only stands as an icon of modernism, but as testament to a visionary architect. The history of the Neue Nationalgalerie is inextricably linked to the political division of Germany and the city of Berlin that was a consequence of the Second World War. The Nationalgalerie’s collection, originally on display on the Museumsinsel (Berlin’s Museum Island) and later, in the 1920s, also in the Kronprinzen Palais on the boulevard Unter den Linden, was initially managed by the Municipality of Greater Berlin in the immediate post-war years. The founding in 1949 of two German states, with opposed political systems and differing ideologies concerning art and its role in society, marked the end of a unified collection. While the East Berlin Nationalgalerie could stay in its original building (following repairs), in West Berlin there was initially no dedicated space for the collection. Beginning in the late 1940s, the West Berlin authorities took strides to rebuild the collection by setting up a “Gallery of the 20th Century.” Further to this, part of the National Gallery’s original collection of nineteenth-century artwork, found in West Germany after the war, was absorbed the newly established Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation). As these two art collections were to be united, in 1962 Mies van der Rohe was commissioned to design a new museum building to house them both. In September 1965, the architect came to Berlin for the laying of the foundation stone. Two years later he also personally attended the most spectacular construction stage: the hydraulic raising into place of the gigantic steel roof. The building was opened on 15 September 1968 and bore the name Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery). Its name signalled the idea of departing from the old and beginning a new chapter – the cultural rebirth of West Berlin.

The building’s architectural structure has remained virtually unchanged ever since. But the collection of the Neue Nationalgalerie is on-goingly re-visited. It brings together an array of key artworks from the twentieth century by various artists from Europe and North America, including Francis Bacon, Max Beckmann, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, George Grosz, Hannah Höch, Rebecca Horn, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Lotte Laserstein, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, and Andy Warhol. Among the Neue Nationalgalerie’s most famous and iconic works are “Potsdamer Platz” by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, “The Skat Players” by Otto Dix, and “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue IV” by Barnett Newman. If you’re in Berlin, make sure to visit this amazing place. Plus, the site-specific text installation by Barbara Kruger in the iconic, upper-level hall is on until the end of August!

Potsdamer Straße 50 / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki & Zuzanna Wagner.

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Hasior Gallery

If you ever decide to visit Zakopane, avoid the main Krupówki street (it’s a really bad looking commercial street…), but check out the “niche” places, like the Willa Koliba and Willa Oksza, or the amazing Władysław Hasior Gallery. Born in 1928 in Nowy Sącz, Władysław Hasior is one of the most remarkable modern, Polish artists. From 1959 he participated in every regional Zakopane artist ehxibitions and Art School Complex painters performances. In the 60s and 70s, Hasior showed his works on many national and foreign exhibitions. His works were transported from small workshop to the gallery by Jagiellońska street in 1984. The gallery was located inside former resting site of “Warszawianka” sanatorium, built by Wacław Nowakowski in 1935. Wooden resting site had two floors, glazed from south. Thanks to this transformation, the multilevel ehibitional interiors were created, often used as concert halls and living rooms or atelier of Hasior. In Władysław Hasior Gallery, various artworks found their place, like banners, assamblages, compositions and sculptures made from “trash” materials and junky, everyday items. Bearing metaphoric, ironic and contrary titles, they provoke reflection on the modern world and art, just as Poland’s history.

Jagiellońska 16 B / Zakopane

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Katharina Grosse at Hamburger Bahnhof (and More!)

Oh, how I’ve missed museums! I wanted to see Katharina Grosse‘s “It Wasn’t Us” exhibition so badly! First, I love her immersive work. Second, coming back to Hamburger Bahnhof, one of Berlin’s best museums of modern and contemporary art, was a good idea, as I’ve been there once as a child and I forgot how great this place is. Now, back to Grosse. A painting by her can appear anywhere. Her large-scale works are multi-dimensional pictorial worlds in which splendid color sweeps across walls, ceilings, objects, and even entire buildings and landscapes. For “It Wasn’t Us” the artist has transformed the Historic Hall of Hamburger Bahnhof as well as the outdoor space behind the building, into an expansive painting which radically destabilises the existing order of the museum architecture. Katharina Grosse’s latest in-situ painting disregards the boundaries of the museum space in a grand and colourful gesture: “I painted my way out of the building,” said Grosse in relation to her work. Over the course of several weeks a vast new painting has emerged that stretches across the Historic Hall and into public space, over the extensive grounds behind the museum, landing finally on the façade of the so-called Rieckhallen which were inaugurated as a part of the museum complex in 2004. Grosse’s kaleidoscopic painting brings together colours and forms, natural and man-made surroundings and its visitors as participants in an all-encompassing, pulsating interaction of hues. The boundaries between objects, and between horizontal and vertical orientations begin to melt away, and the work’s scale continuously shifts depending on the visitor’s position. As the viewer moves through the painting new spaces emerge that are both artificial and ripe with associations, and at the same time completely real, forcing us to renegotiate our habitual ways of seeing, of thinking about, and of perceiving the world around us. The choice of the location and the many different factors and conditions it entails have influenced the development of the painting, just as the permanently shifting lines of sight of the viewer and unexpected interactions with the work affect our ways of perceiving it in the exhibition setting. In this sense, the work’s title, It Wasn’t Us, can be understood as a reference to the inherent complexity and unpredictability of a given situation, whether it be the conditions under which artists create their work, or the conditions under which it is later viewed. The painting exists only for the duration of the exhibition – which is open util the 10th of January 2021.

At the moment there’s also another exhibition going on at Hamburger Bahnhof, titled “Magical Soup“. Spaciously presented across more than 2,000 square metres in the museum’s Rieckhallen complex, the group exhibition features key works complemented by loans representing the latest generation of artists, with a common point of departure being the nexus of sound, image and social space. “Magical Soup” brings together works by the media art pioneers Nam June Paik, Jochen Gerz, Charlemagne Palestine, Ulrike Rosenbach and Keiichi Tanaami; by the multimedia artists Nevin Aladağ, Stan Douglas, Cyprien Gaillard, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Dmitry Gutov, Anne Imhof, Joan La Barbara, Pipilotti Rist (her installations are so powerful!), Diana Thater, Lawrence Weiner, Nicole Wermers and David Zink Yi; and by the younger artists Korakrit Arunanondchai, Trisha Baga, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Christine Sun Kim, Sandra Mujinga and Sung Tieu. Here are some of my favourites, combined with the Hamburger Bahnhof’s permanent gallery, feauturing some good old Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys:

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.