Dropped by Berlin Backs Barack and met some nice people. Delivered some spittle-flecked tirades, but received none.
Spent the rest of the time wandering about, and dropping by a museum or two, including the Gemaeldegalerie (Picture Gallery) in the Kulturforum next to the Potsdamer Platz. The Gemaeldegalerie is one of my favorite museums. First, because there’s usually almost nobody in it. It’s hard to reach by public transport, the building complex itself is uninviting, and its collection was pieced together from other Berlin museums in a way that generated some bad feelings (g). I don’t really care where the collection was poached from, it’s outstanding. The focus is on German and Dutch art, but there’s also a Caravaggio room, two Vermeers, and some Rembrandts, and my favorite Tiepolo, the Martyrdom of St. Agatha.
The building itself, designed by Heinz Hilmer, Christoph Sattler, and Thomas Albrecht (g), is beautifully understated. The exhibition space is located in rooms surrounding a large enclosed hall, and all are lit only by natural light. Large, comfortable, burnished-wood benches are everywhere. The gigantic central hall is designed as a place for contemplation; the only work of art in it is a small fountain called the 5-7-9 Series by Walter De Maria, which generates a barely-audible sound-curtain of burbling water. Unless my celebrity-spotting skills have abandoned me, I’m pretty sure I saw Jonathan Littell wandering through the gallery as well.
Here are a few more photos. First, a sign of the times: a member of the working class (presumably) scraping the word "Funds" from the marquee of some defunct investment firm. Next up, "Stocks":
Hans Klok, the shiny-fingered Fastest Magician of All Time:
Two ubiqitous pieces of German street furniture in one photograph:
Have I left anything out? Perhaps the Byzantine relief of St. Simeon Stylites:
Last but not least, can anyone identify the saint with the (blessed?) leg carbuncle featured on this Gothic altarpiece? Extra credit if you know who’s, er, ‘fondling the carbuncle’.