A New Year

I greeted the New Year in Suffolk but shortly after went to Berlin which was suitably wintry, snowy and freezing.As well as visiting my family I was able to see some excellent exhibitions, Max Beckmann at the Berlinisches Galerie was an absolute treat with more self portraits grouped together than I had ever seen. There were also many paintings I had never seen, brought in from private collections. A terrific catalogue in English was a bonus. On to the Hamburger Bahnhof where much of the collection from the National Galerie is taking refuge to an exhibition called ‘The Black Years.Histories of a Collection. 1933–1945.’ Visitors will have the opportunity to see major works by Pablo Picasso, Lyonel Feininger, Otto Dix, Käthe Kollwitz, Rudolf Belling and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The exhibition also includes objects recently acquired by the collection, as well as other works not seen by the public in over 75 years. Each of the objects has its own individual story to tell, and offers valuable insights into the art, politics and museum history of the Nazi period.The objects selected for the exhibition are as diverse as the lives of the artists who created them. Some works enjoyed the regime’s approval and were held up as examples of ‘national’ art, whereas others met with derision and were considered ‘degenerate’. Many artists were persecuted by the regime and forced into exile, some were denied the right to exhibit their works, while others could count on state commissions to further their careers. Nevertheless the boundaries between approval and censure were often fluid, and official decisions regarding art were not always consistent. Fascinating show, with a lot of political and historical detail. Another trip to the Neues Museum to see Chipperfield’s  masterful engagement with damage and destruction in a building which I find far more interesting than its contents. Food as ever terrific in Berlin and infinitely cheaper than London and public transport mostly unfazed by the weather.

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