Sunday, October 14, 2012

40 Days of Birthday: Day Twenty-Two

Felt Suit, 1970
Joseph Bueys

I was spoiled again today and went out on my own for a solo adventure. The only reason I count being alone a luxury is because I was headed to the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Modern Art, and while my husband would have enjoyed it, my son would not be amused. This way, I could take all the time I need while my son and husband play at home. My journey was bookended by two hefty bouts of sewing for the two baby birthday parties on Sunday and I was proud of myself to have, once again, dropped everything and do something for me.

Photography was not allowed at the Martin-Gropius-Bau so I didn’t bother bringing our nice camera, which was a shame since it seemed to not be an issue at Hamburger Bahnhof. Though there was a clear sign at the front depicting a cell phone with a slash through it, I followed the lead of others and took pictures with my iPhone.

The Hamburger Bahnhof is a huge space, being an old Bahn station over a hundred years ago, but there is little that lets you know this history. It has been converted to a several winged gallery, often awkwardly so, forcing you to retrace your steps, follow empty corridors and cross through the gift shop to get to the different exhibits.

I hadn’t checked out what was going on there before I went and was excited to see a Robert Rauschenberg exhibition had just started today. I’m keen on his work collaborating with theatre artists and choreographers during the 1960s and the exhibit was showing several films throughout its run, documenting this period. In the same wing hung the Warhols and the Lichtensteins, but what made my jaw drop were works from Cy Twombly and Anslem Kiefer:

Thyrsis, 1977
Cy Twombly
Photo source found here

Lillith am Roten Meer, 1990
Anslem Kiefer
Photo source found here

Lillith am Roten Meer, 1990
Anslem Kiefer
Photo source found here

I was told twice during my first ten minutes there to not stand so close to the paintings. On the one hand, I appreciate the lack of stanchions in front of the pieces, yet it’s all too tempting, especially with mixed media work and thick, juicy brush strokes. The first guard was very polite about it, even joking that she knew I would not touch the painting, but because others had, she was forced to tell me. The second guard bluntly demanded that I distance myself by an additional meter.

I moved on to the Martin Honert exhibit next which was more interactive and sculptural. Again, guards had to constantly tell people not to actually stand amongst the plastic people or touch the tiny house. For a second I considered placing my birthday crown on the head of a small polyurethane man for a photo opportunity. I considered that the artist would have loved my doing this or would have felt completely disrespected. I couldn’t take the chance that it would be the latter so I aborted my mission. This says nothing of the scolding I would have received from the guards.

Group Photo of Prefects, 2012
Martin Honert

The annex section of the museum housed an interesting exhibit on architecture which I went through maybe too quickly but I’d already been there for two hours at this point and the Joseph Beuys’ were waiting. What I love about the Beuys pieces is that they challenge your perception of beauty. What I also loved was how I believed none of his work had anything to do with beauty. It’s angry, raw, industrial, found, and decaying. I got slapped in the face. I was repulsed. I fell in love.


  1. I once leaned in so close to a painting in a museum that I set off the infrared alarm in front of it with my nose. The guard was on me in a half second and I could only promise that I hadn't touched it - I was just looking.

    Then it happened again, one room down in the same museum. I was so embarassed, I maintained a safe distance for the remainder of the exhibit.

    1. I don;t know why I'm always "unknown". This is Kirsten again.

    2. Ha! Being caught by an alarm would have been more than my German language skills could explain away. Glad to hear I'm not the only one. I don't recall this happening to me before. Either museums have gotten more strict, I've become more interested in process, or I need glasses.