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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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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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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Warsaw: Anna Bilińska’s Retrospective


Anna Bilińska was the first Polish female artist to gain international recognition. Her first solo retrospective at the National Museum in Warsaw takes place just now, in 2021, but it’s better late than never. Bilińska used oil paints, pastels and watercolours to create portraits, still lifes, genre scenes and landscapes in the style of European realism. The artist brilliantly mastered the basics of the painting technique, evidenced by her academic studies of models, which strike the viewer with their synthetic approach to the form and with their casual technique of painting. Of course, the artist also simultaneously continued the clear contour style, exemplified by her Male Nude Study (1885), Study for a Male Nude (ca. 1884-85) and Boy Nude (ca. 1884-85). Sketches for the historical and biblical compositions which Bilińska created in her youth have similar qualities but also display a bold expression of colour juxtaposition, as exemplified by Joseph Interprets Dreams (1883) and Inquisition (1884). Bilińska’s mature works consist predominantly of portraits and portrait studies of various ethnic types which were fashionable at that time. These pieces merge the refined simplicity of realism with an academic discipline of the painting technique, such as Head of a Serb (ca. 1884) or Old Man with a Book (ca. 1890s).Bilińska’s self-awareness and thoughts on the artist’s position in the world, which manifested itself in, among others, the representation of her own image in self-portraits, make her works so powerful. And still, the artist’s entire oeuvre and life story have yet to be thoroughly analysed and rediscovered…

The exhibition is on view until 10th of October 2021.

The National Museum in Warsaw is worth a visit in general! Here are some of my favourite artworks, especially from the 19th and 20th century galleries, from Józef Mehoffer’s enchanting Stange Garden to Jacek Malczewski’s prophetic visions.

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Berlin: The Museum of Natural History

Sometimes, I feel like going to a non-fashion and non-art place! The Museum für Naturkunde – Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science – is an integrated research museum within the Leibniz Association. It is one of the most important research institutions worldwide in the areas of biological and geological evolution and biodiversity. As an excellent research museum and innovative communication platform,the institution wants to engage with and influence the scientific and societal discourse about the future of our planet, worldwide. Their vision, strategy and structure make the museum an excellent research museum. Alongside knowledge transfer, the museum’s research and vast collection are the main pillars of its work. The collection is a unique natural and cultural asset, inextricably linked to our research and comprises over 30 million items covering zoology, palaeontology, geology and mineralogy and is of highest scientific and historical importance. The permanent exhibitions together with regular special exhibitions give the public insights into current research at the museum and highlight original research objects. Visitors are encouraged and inspired to find their own route into science and experience ‘Evolution in Action’ rather than following a given pathway.

Invalidenstraße 43 / Berlin

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.