The quiet, rare joy of enjoying the work of an artist previously not known.
Hans Robert Pippal
In a medium that’s my particular favourite and quite uncommon.
To top it further was the subject depicted.
Streets of Vienna from the late 20th century. Vital and vibrant.
There is a special fragile quality of paintings from the 1970s , 80s and 90s.
Artists were facing a challenge from photography like never before. Painting had not found its new space that it has today in the 2010s.
As art became more abstract and non-representative, paintings like these, masterly in their confidence and skill, depicting reality as it was, yet more than just a capture of the scene, were rare. A treasure for the viewer today.
When I feel homesick, I go through my photographs from India and most times it’s the simple spontaneous shots that evoke the greatest emotion. Like this family waiting to cross the road when my car came to a stop at a crossing.
Yes beauty is in the perfectly composed, dramatically lit shot of the perfect Taj Mahal. Yet these shots, often off in composition and exposure are so much more powerful in their ability to strike a cord. The changing expressions creating bonds reaching across time, space… lives.
Earlier this year museum visiting the acclaimed Museum Insel in Berlin, I ducked in at the Alte Nationalgalerie. To browse at leisure through it’s rich collection of Romantic and Impressionist paintings and sculptures.
In the entrance hall, “STOP!!”, commanded a staff member. “All coats MUST be deposited at the cloakroom.”
This essential cloakroom turned out to be a little hole in a wall tucked into one side of the lobby. It’s entrance like the narrow one-man-only corridors in medieval forts. A hassled lady stood behind the desk while groups of excited schoolkids meleed around for their coats and bags.
Feeling from this moment on that this was not the right place to soak in art, I ventured in further nevertheless.
Inside the museum continued in a similar vein. Poorly planned, badly lit, over heated and rudely staffed. Its Constables and unparalleled collections of German Impressionist painters made it a treasure trove, yet barely half an hour later, I was standing outside.
History and art had lost to the quality of the experience.
Part of me thinking it might just be pleasanter to find a nice Coffee Shop, I walked over next to the Neues Museum. The Neues Museum is located on the same plaza. Standing physically at 90 degrees to the Alte Nationalgalerie. As an experience it proved to be a full 180 degrees different.
“Hallo!” smiled the man at the entrance as he let me into the large foyer.
There I was free to meander and explore.
I joined a stream of happy visitors, engrossed in the Art. Surrounded by priceless statues and objects from ancient Egypt, some of the earliest human creations. Including the exquisite statue of Nefertiti. In terms of importance in art, just this one statue could have perhaps competed with a whole floor of art in the previous Museum.
A couple of hours later, mentally saturated, I still didn’t want to leave. And next time in Berlin I’ll be back there.
So what makes a museum?
Is it the quality of its collections or the quality of the experience?
What is the purpose of a museum?
Is it only to collect and save or is it also to interest and involve?
Does art stored in vaults serve a purpose or is art valuable only when it is viewed, interacted with? When it is loved and appreciated.
Walk with your head held high because high above, you just might chance upon a Rainbow cloud. Beautiful to spot and photograph, these are extremely high altitude clouds that form in extreme low temperatures.
As always Wikipedia is the go-to for the explaination. Read the science behind this beauty here
Flash back to the middle of the last century. Thousands of people fleeing a terror regime in Germany and across mainland Europe. Undergoing unimaginable hardships to reach peace and security in the USA and England.
The people who were fleeing proved their grit, endurance and ingenuity by the very act of fleeing. Once there, they proved their loyalty as well to their new countries. For the countries that took them in, specially the USA and UK, they proved the catalyst for breakthroughs in science, excellence in the arts and a new vigor to social and cultural dynamics.
So much so that English became the language of new ideas, the language of science and communication replacing German and French.
Today it is the same situation again. The terror is centered in the Middle East and the immigrants are Asian but it’s the same terror. A terror of religion and race. The routes and methods taken by the fleeing populace as arduous as before.
A refugee is a person who is outside their home country because they have suffered (or feared) persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, or political opinion; because they are a member of a persecuted social class of persons; or because they are fleeing a war.
But the wheel has indeed turned.
While the countries that benefited from last century’s exodus close their borders and try every method, diplomatic or otherwise, to keep the present immigrants out. Germany welcomes these refugees. Angela Merkel standing up for them, silencing the few odd groups of her own countrymen who protest against her stance. “Being the country to which so many want to migrate should be a source of pride” she says.
How will this present situation play out? Going by historic examples it will definitely have a positive result for Germany. Making it richer in every aspect.
Needless to say this lady has proven to be a hero.
I’d walked through the town center alone, for once not even with the company of my trusty Canon which was away for servicing. Carrying instead my husband’s Olympus. (I’m quite challenged when it comes to new electronics. It takes me several shoots before the camera becomes an extension of my mind and eyes)
A little hesitant. It’s been only some months since we shifted to Austria. I still have a struggle with the newness of the language, culture, mindset… even the weather. The sunny blue skied day for which I’d put away my heavy coat with glee was bitingly cold. An icy wind cutting through my fleece jacket faster than the proverbial hot knife through butter.
As I made my way through the town, it seemed the streets of Leoben were inhabited today with ghosts and demons and witches and clowns and sheikhs and the Simpsons. For it was the day they call Faschings. The Germanic version of the Carnival.
I did my recce round and choose a sunny spot from which to see the parade. Standing midst a crowd of people. Still shy about taking photographs. Street – people photography and the amount of courage it takes has had reams written about it already.
But the light was strong and clear and the tricky lensbaby I had on the camera required every bit of concentration. As the procession reached me I got bolder in the photographs I was taking. Stepping forward to get a clearer view. Losing some of my nervousness and as I did that, I found myself being welcomed into the crowds.
Sweets and smiles were thrown with abandon by the people in the procession. Many stopping specially for their photograph to be taken. Rewarding me with a brightly coloured bon-bon for my efforts
For that moment I was part of the world here. No longer a stranger.