Where in the World Wednesday

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nuremberg germany witww

Nuremberg, Germany; December 19, 2015

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Unlofty Thoughts on the Lofty Art at the Staedel Museum

staedel

Sandro Botticelli, Idealized Portrait of a Lady

Idealized or not, I want to try that hairstyle.

 

Staedel Museum, Frankfurt

Luca Giordano, Youth Tempted by the Vices

I like how one of the tempters in this temptation scene is cockblocking the lady in blue, who is so desperately trying to get her temptation through to the temptee lad in red that she is squirting breast milk at him. Which, to be fair, it looks like he wants some of that.

 

Staedel Museum, Frankfurt

Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of Simon George of Cornwall

Oh hey, it’s my new bae. So hot, so stylish, with a particularly suggestive broach (it’s Leda and the Swan). Yeah, okay, so he’s bringing me a carnation as a symbol of his love, but that’s just the flower of choice from his time, okay? He doesn’t know how unfashionable they are now.

 

Staedel Museum, Frankfurt

Rhenish Master, Altenberg Altarpiece

I just like that Mary and Elizabeth get a panel to themselves. They get to have a breath here and exclaim over the news they’ve just received before it’s all about angels and holy sons again.

 

Staedel Museum, Frankfurt

Aert de Gelder, Self-Portrait as Zeuxis Portraying an Ugly Old Woman

THIS dickweed. Here we have a self-portrait of the artist painting a middle-aged, ‘ugly’ lady so that she appears younger and more conventionally attractive. The smirk on his face says it all: ‘Delusional bitches, huh? But ya gotta pay the rent.’

 

Staedel Museum, Frankfurt

Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes

I really admire the way she’s working hard to keep blood splatter off their dresses.

 

Staedel Museum, Frankfurt

Pompeo Girolamo Batoni, Allegory of the Arts

Architecture and Music in the background all, ‘No it’s fine, we like it back here in the dark, we prefer it actually, we’re pretty sensitive to light, we know you didn’t mean to imply that we’re unimportant or anything, yeah we understand, it’s just for the layout of the painting, sure, sure.’

 

Staedel Museum, Frankfurt

Middle Rhenish master, Crucifixion Altarpiece allegedly from St Peter’s in Frankfurt

Poor woman, she’s clinging to the crucifix and mourning the death of Jesus, and then along comes this horse that clearly wants a piece of her.

 

Staedel Museum, Frankfurt

Strasbourg master, The Preparation of the Cross

Wardrobe & makeup doing some fix-up work on Jesus between takes on set.

 

Staedel Museum, Frankfurt

Adriaen Brouwer, The Bitter Potion

Ordered ale. Got lager.

 

Staedel Museum, Frankfurt

Northern Netherlandish master, Triptych with the Crucifixion, Saints and Donors

‘We’re definitely in the wrong triptych.’
‘I told you we went to the wrong one.’
‘I know, I’m sorry! I just got nervous and jumped in. What are we going to do now?’
‘Smile. Look like you’re praying. Maybe they won’t notice.’

The Staedel Museum in Frankfurt, Germany is a wonderful place. I spent three hours on the Old Masters’ floor alone. Many beautiful pieces to discover–if you’re ever in Frankfurt, be sure to visit!

Snapshots of Berlin

I first visited Berlin in 2001, as part of my first-ever solo trip, and it felt quite different to be there in 2013. I was older and wiser, yes, but also I was staying with my sister-in-law and having a rest before moving on to points less well-known, rather than taking in lots of tourist sights. Of course, I passed the Brandenburg Gate, and I visited the controversial Holocaust Memorial, but mostly I went to parks and ate kebabs and hung out with people.

Brandenburg Tor

Brandenburg Tor

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The Holocaust memorial–full title ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’–is far from being well-received. Peter Eisenmann won the design competition with his plan to make a memorial that has no symbolism attached to it at all, so that each viewer can interpret it as they choose. (I find this ridiculous–just by creating something, you’ve attached your own interpretation to it, with your own ideas of what it might symbolize or mean, and anyway an audience is always going to interpret a work of art however they choose, no matter how representative or abstract you make it.) Anyway, he built these giant concrete slabs on a purposely uneven surface, so that visitors would feel disoriented and confused (how is that not symbolism? okay I’ll stop). The setup reminds many, including me, of a large cemetery.

Claustrophobic even in the open air

Claustrophobic even in the open air

But the many problems with this design and construction include: the whole drive to make a Holocaust memorial was started by a non-Jewish person, and the Jewish community in Germany has generally said they don’t want this memorial; there are no markers around the memorial to tell people what it is, so you can pass by without processing it at all; the information center is below ground and doesn’t have much in the way of education, so it’s stuck in the past instead of doing anything to encourage people to prevent future such tragedies; singling out the Jewish victims doesn’t honor the LGBT, Roma, communist, religious, and other murdered groups; even the name mentions the victims but not the perpetrators, leading some to call this a ‘memorial to German guilt’ and not a way to honor the dead.

Bundestag (the preferred word to Reichstag, apparently), seat of the German government

Bundestag (the preferred word to Reichstag, apparently), seat of the German government

Currywurst--vaguely curry spices with hot dog-type sausage

Currywurst–vaguely curry spices with hot dog-type sausage

My friend Becky was moving back to the States after a stint of expat life in Berlin, so we met up just before she left. We got currywurst and fries at a kebab shop, and then she showed me Dachkammer bar, which is an East Berlin bar kept in same style it was in the DDR. This meant it looked like someone’s living room, overstuffed with chairs and couches, ashtrays because you can still smoke in the upstairs rooms, and bad art on the walls.

Dach??

Dachkammer

This guy got really excited about the Pride parade and just scaled a lamppost

This guy got really excited about the Pride parade and just scaled a lamppost

My sister-in-law Lizzie and I went to Tempelhof, which you can read about here, and we also went to a few Pride Parade events, including the more political and less party parade. I plan to write a piece comparing some of the Pride events I saw in different European cities, but let me say that it’s no surprise the Berlin event was full of camaraderie and a strong desire for more change.

Freakin' cute baby, that's what was in the stroller

Freakin’ cute baby, that’s what was in the stroller

Pieces of the Berlin Wall

Pieces of the Berlin Wall

I went to a couple Couchsurfing events, the best of which was a spaeti crawl. Spaeti are the convenience stores found on every street corner. Public drinking is still allowed in Berlin, so what we did was just go into the store, buy a beer for about a euro, then go out and drink it on the sidewalk and socialize with the other travelers. We went to maybe four spaeti, and then the group split up as some people went clubbing and some of us went to a tiny dance place in a video store. It was a good end to a short visit.

My kind of clubbing

My kind of clubbing