Thursday, 12 February 2015

Postcard from Berlin, 3. (Inc. Alte Nationalgalerie and Gemäldegalerie)

Day 3 in Berlin: I paid my respects to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, sculpted by Ludwig Engelhardt for the Marx-Engels-Forum between Alexanderplatz and the Spree river. It is a short walk from here, past the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) and across the river to Museuminsel (Museum Island) which includes the Alte Nationalgalerie, the museum of C19 and some early C20 art. It is a (relatively) modest, handsome classical building, effectively sitting upon a plinth and entered via a grand staircase. Inside another grand staircase, lit by a glassed dome, gives access to 3 floors of galleries.
The collection is mixed - much neo-Classicism, some Romanticism, some Impressionism - several works by Caspar David Friedrich, several rooms of works by Adolph Menzel. Unfortunately, I can't list my definitive top ten exhibits because I can't find reproductions of several works (especially by Lovis Corinth and Max Beckmann), but I did find the following of particular interest.
Caspar David Friedrich,  Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon, c1824

Julius Hübner, Portriait of Johann Gottfried Schadow, 1832
Edouard Manet, In the Winter Garden, 1878/9
Adolph Menzel, The Foot of the Artist, 1876

Narcisse Virgilio Díaz de la Peña, Oriental Mother and Daughter, 1865
Franz von Stuck, Sin, c1912
In the afternoon I crossed the city to Potsdamer Platz and walked the short distance to the Kulturforum to visit the Gemäldegalerie. The Kulturforum is an extensive collection of museums, galleries, concert halls and libraries. Several of these, including the Gemäldegalerie, are collected into a single, fairly unremarkable architectural complex. However, the route to it is flanked by two very remarkable buildings: Hans Scharoun's Berliner Philharmonie (1963) and, best of all,  Mies van der Rohe's Neue Nationalgalerie (1968) - one of the very best Modernist buildings in the world. The only disappointment of this week in Berlin was that the Neue Nationalgalerie had just closed its doors (on 1 January 2015) for a 3-year refurbishment.
Hans Scharoun, Berliner Philharmonie, 1963
Mies van der Rohe, Neue Nationalgalerie, 1968
The Gemäldegalerie contains a rich collection of C14 to C18 European art; so rich that I didn't have long enough to view so had to return for a second visit the next day. My top ten, in date order, are as follow. (It turns out that what I like is portraits, which I hadn't realised before, and that, Crivelli apart (whose work I love) my preference is very definitely for Northern European art over Italian.)
Rogier van der Weyden, Portrait of a Woman with a Winged Bonnet, c1440/45
Petrus Christus, Portrait of a Young Woman, c1410-1472/3
Carlo Crivelli, Madonna with Saints, 1488/89
Albrecht Dürer, Portrait of a Young Woman with a Red Beret, 1507
Jan Gossaert, Neptune and Amphitrite, 1516

Albrecht Dürer, Hieronymus Holzschuler, 1526
Christoph Amberger, Kaiser Karl V, 1532
Hans Holbein the Younger, The Merchant George Gisze, 1532
Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of De Vos van Steenwijk, 1541
Jan Verneer of Delft, Young Woman with a Pearl Necklace, c1662/65
Click on images to enlarge.
See also Postcards 1 and 2.

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