Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum, Berlin

I recently traveled to Berlin where we visited two exhibitions at the Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum. The first, and one of the best I've been to lately, was PACIFIC STANDARD TIME: Art in Los Angeles 1950–1980. This time and place was central to the first wave of feminism, and the exhibition included many seminal works in the women's movement. The show was divided into three parts. The first titled Crosscurrents, displayed work from over 50 artists including Judy Chicago. The most impressive piece in this section was Edward Kienholz's room installation of old fashioned radios, whose varying sounds were activated by pedals. It was most successful when multiple people were interacting with it from different parts of the room. The radios were attached to old fashioned tables by a clear glue which was poured over each one. One was in an aquarium, one was attached to a dismembered mannequin arm, and in the center there was a group set up with washboards and Nazi medals. Here the radios stood in for men while the washboards represented women during the war. The medals, which were given to women who could produce four or more children for the Nazi party, were hung over them.
The second part, titled Greetings from L. A. , was packed full of over 200 important objects, many of them from the feminist movement. Photographs from Eleanor Antin's 100 Boots were on display as well as a series of text typed on notecards by Martha Rosler.
 This part also included video, photo and text documentation of the Womanhouse project run by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro at the California Institute of the Arts Feminist Art Program.
There was so much work packed into this section that it was really hard to take it all in. One of the last pieces in this section was a room installation by Bruce Nauman in which the viewer walked around a square room with a cube of walls in the center and surveillance cameras and video screens on the corners. As the person turned the corners, they could see a glimpse of themselves if they looked back at the video screen behind them.

The third section of the exhibit was  dedicated to Julius Shulman's photographs of modernist architecture.

The second exhibition we visited was Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915–1935. It included works of the early avant-garde by El Lissitzky, Gustav Klutsis and Alexander Rodchenko among others. These works, which were revolutionary in the world of visual arts also held great influence over the Russian revolution.
This exhibition also discussed the innovative town planning and communal housing at the time. This was displayed through vintage photographs as well as beautiful photographs taken by Richard Pare in 1993 of the decaying buildings.

1 comment:

  1. pondered to myself recently what were the most important things in my life. The answer seems to be clear that art was up there in importance. Why? Frankly, I don't really know. May be someone here can enlighten me?
    As was my wont w
    hen I have some free time, I browsed the marvelous site,, where they keep thousands of digital images for customers to select to have printed into handsome canvas prints for their homes.
    This image jumped out to jolt my reveries: Still life with bread, by the Cubist Georges Braque. Is art like this picture, as essential as bread and water, or should I say bread and wine?