According to popular (hi)story the tradition of the Christmas tree originated in the lands of the contemporary Germany. And with O Tannenbaum it was in the lands of the contemporary Germany that that most popular ode to the Christmas tree was first sung.
But it’s not by way of celebration of Germanic contributions to the Christmas season that all five of our new exhibition recommendations for December 2022 are in Germany, Austria or Germanophone Switzerland.
It’s just the way the dice fell. Just where the five most interesting sounding new architecture and design exhibition openings in December 2022 were to be found. As were what would have been at 6, 7 and 8 on our list. Had it continued that far.
And while we’d much rather, would much prefer, that they were more geographically, globally, strewn; thematically they are disparate, and all very much international, universal, in their subject matter and relevance. Plus, and lest we forget, an exhibition opening should never be understood as a reason to visit a particular museum, although please, please, do; but as an invitation to busy oneself with the subject and themes therein, an invitation to begin a journey.
Thus view what follows not as five exhibition recommendations in Germanophone Europe, but as five extra candles for your 2022 Christmas tree, five extra candles lighting your way forward into 2023 and beyond…….
We published our first monthly list of exhibition recommendations on November 1st 2013, one of those short, superficial, posts we used to compose, having as we did back then endless time on our hands; and an intervening nine years that means that with this list for November 2022 we are entering our tenth year of helping you advance your cultural education.
While being very much aware that the vast majority of you have never visited a single one of the circa 450 new exhibitions we’ve carefully and conscientiously selected for your delectation, nor indeed have the vast majority of you visited any architecture or design exhibition in the past nine years: that the vast majority of you have chosen to neglect your cultural education. However, one of the joys of the museum exhibition as a format for elucidation, exploration, energising and entertainment, the reason we don’t give up on you all, is that, the next opportunity is always approaching.
Thus, while that which you have missed is gone for ever, and you’ll just have to try to catch up as best you can; that which is still to come is an opportunity waiting to be grasped. And in November 2022 there is an unusually large and varied amount of opportunities to grasp; the global architecture and design museum community unleashing a plethora of diverse new showcases.
And a plethora of new exhibitions opening in November 2022 that we were simply unable to narrow down to five. It would also have felt unjust given how many new showcases there are.
five six new opportunities to advance your cultural education in November 2022 can be found in Leipzig, Edinburgh, Winterthur, Berlin, New York and Vienna…….
“Everybody, except myself, have used, and admit to having used my photographs … and often also without mentioning my name”, lamented Lucia Moholy in 1956, “everyone – except myself – have derived advantages from using my photographs, either directly, or indirectly, in a number of ways, be it in cash or prestige, or both”.1
The photographs in question being of and from the Weimar and Dessau Bauhauses, photos which played, and continue to play, a not unimportant role in mediating Bauhaus to a wider audience. But which in doing such don’t necessarily help mediate Lucia Moholy to that wider audience. On the contrary, they tend to hold her in a relative anonymity.
With Lucia Moholy – The Image of Modernity the Bröhan Museum, Berlin, help explain how such a situation came to be, why Lucia Moholy’s lament is both justified and an important lesson, and also how it relates to popular understandings of Bauhaus.
But for all seek to redress some of the ongoing consequences of that relative anonymity…….
Arguably there is no museum permanent collection exhibition more painstakingly, fastidiously, organized than that of the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin: what initially resembles a hurried attempt to cram as much as possible into as few vitrines as possible, reveals itself on closer, more careful, inspection as vitrine after vitrine of disparate everyday objects organized according to a wide variety of characteristics and properties, such as, for example, objects formed from specific materials, objects for specific tasks, objects containing specific flaws, etc, etc, etc…
As an exercise in organizing objects of daily use it is borderline pathological.1
And a most informative visualisation of the organization that is inherent in the craft of the museologist and archivist.
With the exhibition Organizing Things the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin, turn their attention less to the whats of museal collections as to the hows, and in doing so allow for differentiated reflections on organizing, both institutional and private…….
July 2021 marked what would have been the 100th birthday of Karl H. Bröhan, initiator of the collection that initiated Berlin’s Bröhan Museum; a centenary marked by the museum with the exhibition Bröhan Total!, a, as the title implies, comprehensive presentation of that collection.
A presentation of the Total! Bröhan collection, an intensive examination, and study, of the Total! Bröhan collection by the Bröhan Museum which, indirectly and directly, led the Bröhan Museum to undertake, if one so will, a gender audit of their Total! collection; an audit which came to the conclusion that from the ca. 20,000 objects therein just some 1,500 were by females creatives, or ca. 7.5%. And from the ca. 1100 creatives represented in that collection just some 99 were female, ca. 10%; thus more than the 7.5% of the objects indicating a greater average object per head ratio for male creatives than females.
Numbers which led to questions, not least questions of why, and subsequently led the Bröhan Museum Berlin to the exhibition Regard! Art and Design by Women 1880–1940.
An exhibition which presents works by all 99 female creatives represented in the Bröhan Museum collection, and allows space for your own reflections on the numbers, the biographies, the (hi)story of design, museum collections, and for all the myriad whys. The myriad whys, then and now…….
Monographic exhibitions portraying designers from ages past, generally, only leave you with but little opportunity to directly assess, compare and contrast that designer in context of their time.
The, desired, concentrated focus on the protagonist leaving you, by necessity, not least by necessity of limits of time and space, primarily relying on those snippets of information and/or blurry images of objects, invariably popularly celebrated objects, your brain can recover in that moment, for any semblance of assessment, comparison and contrast with what others were realising in that period, any semblance of assessment, comparison and contrast with the positions and approaches of others in that period.
Following its run at Neuwerk 11, Halle, the exhibition Chairs: Dieckmann! The Forgotten Bauhäusler Erich Dieckmann is now on display at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin, who have employed their own collection to expanded the Dieckmann presentation with contemporaneous works. To expand the works of Erich Dieckmann with works by The Others…….
With the Boötids, the Arietids and the Beta Taurids June is an eventful month for meteor showers; and a month of great promise for all those who hope their most earnest wishes for the future will be fulfilled through entrusting them to a shooting star.
If only their wasn’t the seemingly endless wait for nightfall, the seemingly endless sitting and streaming and snacking and stupor of waiting…….
Alternatively, use the day(s) ahead of the arrival of those celestial messengers of hope in perusing a good architecture and/or design exhibition: something that may enrich your life in ways you could never have imagined. Far less hoped for. And could lead you, could lead us all, to a future better, more promising and more fulfilling than you/we could ever have wished for. Could ever have achieved through the sitting and streaming and snacking and stupor of waiting for the future.
But you can still watch the meteors when they appear. And wish upon a star.
Our four meaningful distractions until nightfall in June 2022 can be found in Berlin, Rotterdam, Wrocław and Copenhagen……
There is an argument to be made that the craft of the glassmaker is as anachronistic in the 21st century as that of the candlemaker: an argument that while the later has seen their craft superseded by the electric lightbulb, the function of the former has not only been increasingly marginalised by the rise of industrially produced glassware, but also by the development of new materials, materials more robust and more durable than the famously fragile and transient glass.
The candlemaker and the glassmaker, so one could further argue, having been reduced to little more than popular attractions at Ye Olde Worlde Village Fayre and similar commercial and pedagogic acts of romanticised nostalgia.
With the showcase Glass – Hand Formed Matter the Bröhan Museum, Berlin, present a convincing counter-argument…….
Following smow Turin’s thoroughly unexpected, if in no way undeserved, victory in the 2021 smow Song Contest, it’s off to Piemonte for the 2022 edition.
A 2022 smow Song Contest being held very much in context of events 20 years previous…….
“The May of life blooms but once”, reflects Friedrich Schiller, continuing, “It has faded for me”.1
Cheer up Freddie!!!
And there’s nothing quite like a good architecture or design exhibition to revitalise all your faculties.
Our recommended fertilizers for the zest of life in May 2022 can be found in Berlin, Den Haag, Brussels, Pfäffikon SZ and Amsterdam…….
A Hella; A Lab; An Open-ended exploration
“…one only finds warmth of life and sincerity where human nature is allowed to flourish”, opined the German designer Erich Dieckmann in 1931, “one shouldn’t forget that in our apartments. Let’s treat our contemporary homes to something humane. Something unelaborate, something provisional, with some leeway and space for things to grow as they wish over time.”1
With the exhibition Chairs: Dieckmann! The Forgotten Bauhäusler Erich Dieckmann, the Kunststiftung des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt and Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin extend an invitation to explore how Erich Dieckmann understood an unelaborate, humane, contemporary apartment full of leeway and space to grow…….
According to the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro February 7th marks the first day of spring.
Which strikes us, as we’re sure it does you, as a little early; however, there was reason in Varro’s bold claim, for Varro further sets February 7th as the start of the year, and for all links February 7th with the rising of the west wind, a favourable, warming wind, whose arrival indicates the need to start cultivating your land and crops, specifically Varro advises, “these are things which should be done in the first period, from the rising of the west wind to the vernal equinox: All kinds of nurseries should be set out, orchards pruned, meadows manured, vines trenched and outcropping roots removed, meadows cleared, willow beds planted, grain-land weeded.”1
But not just the cultivation of your land and crops is important from the rising of the west wind to the vernal equinox, the cultivation of mind and spirit and character is of equal importance.
Our five non-agrarian cultivation tips for February 2022 can be found in Halle, Garðabær, Paris, Stockholm and Zürich…….
Familiar as our objects and rituals of daily life are to us, to someone from the 16th century they would appear most, most, odd, just as their familiar 16th century objects and rituals would appear most, most, odd to someone from the 11th century: yet as Simon & Garfunkel teach us “that’s not unusual, No, it isn’t strange”, for as societies develop they acquire new objects and rituals, daily life continually evolves anew alongside, and in conjunction with, new objects and new rituals. And if we were to be acquainted today with objects and rituals from future societies we would consider them most, most, odd.
With the exhibition New Normals at Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Konstantin Grcic presents some exceedingly odd things and in doing so invites us all to reflect on the fact that that which is not yet, will one day be…….
According to Germanic folklore, “If January is frosty and cold, a green woodland will soon entice us”.
The implication being that a severe January is the necessary pre-requisite not only for a timeous spring bursting forth with new life, but also for a warm, (meteorologically) settled, summer.
But in the frost and cold and dark and endlessness of January that green (deciduous) woodland is still a long way off, is unimaginable, is unreachable, is almost mythical; however, protection, and distraction, from January can always be found in the warmth and stimulation and light of a good architecture or art or design exhibition.
Our five enticing shelters from the climatic vagaries of January 2022 can be found in Berlin, Humlebæk, Bloomfield Hills, Moscow and New York…….
Braun occupy a special, ¿unique?, position not only in the mythology of product design but also in the (hi)story of West Germany; arguably no brand is as closely related with and to West Germany as Braun.
With the exhibition Braun 100 the Bröhan-Museum, Berlin, explore the development of design at Braun in the post-War decades and in doing so help one approach differentiated understandings of not only Braun and Braun design, but also of the relationships between Braun, design and West Germany…….
As the worldline of architecture’s spacetime continuum moves through the 1970s and ever further into the 1980s it becomes increasingly blurry, indistinct, harder to confidently follow: established conventions and systems, acknowledged fundamental and/or necessary rules of architecture become increasingly difficult to locate.
Indeed were there rules in 1980s architecture?
With the exhibition Anything Goes? Berlin Architecture in the 1980s the Berlinische Galerie explore the architectural developments in the, then, two Berlins, and in doing so not only allow one to approach better understandings of the architectural development of the, now, one Berlin, but also to question the putative lawless of 1980s architecture…….
In 1950 the Dutch architect and designer Mart Stam told a conference in Leipzig, “when I speak here for a group of individuals active in industry about the problem of industrial design, I do so because I believe that it is necessary for us to concern ourselves in detail with the question of industrial design, and also because I believe that through intensive work and cooperation in this field we can contribute to increasing the cultural quality of our goods.”1,2
With the exhibition The Early Years. Mart Stam, the Institute and the Collection of Industrial Design the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Berlin elucidate that Stam did more than simply speak about “the problem of industrial design” in the, then, fledgling East Germany, that Mart Stam wasn’t the only person in 1950s East Germany interested in “increasing the cultural quality of our goods”, if ideas about how one defined “increasing” and “cultural quality” varied greatly; and in doing so allows insights into the development of industrial design in East Germany……
“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it is always June”, ponders Anne Shirley in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1915 novel Anne of the Island.
“You’d get tired of it”, sighs her adoptive mother Marilla Cuthbert by way of reply.
“I daresay”, responds Anne, “but just now I feel that it would take me a long time to get tired of it…”
Thoughts we very much concur with as we survey and contemplate the varied profusion of new architecture and design exhibitions sprouting forth in June 2021. Who could ever tire of such a joyous abundance? Who?
Our five recommendations from that early summer crop can be found in Leipzig, Hornu, Berlin, Bloomfield Hills and Chemnitz…….
After a long, challenging, year the smow Song Contest finds itself exactly where it was: Rotterdam.
Not just the location, but the stage, the decoration, the costumes, even the bier en frieten exactly as they were twelve months ago.
The decisive, defining, difference between the 2020 smow Song Contest and the 2021 smow Song Contest being the new understandings, the new perceptions, the new perspectives, the new vitality, the new passions, the new desires, the new old new, articulated by the contest’s motto: Open Up!
As the 19th century English poet Robert Browning so very, very, nearly phrased it:
Oh, to be in Berlin, Vienna, Chemnitz, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, or Berlin (again),
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in Berlin, Vienna, Chemnitz, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, or Berlin (again),
Sees, some morning a most interesting, entertaining and instructive sounding architecture and/or design exhibition,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough……
With the 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize being awarded to Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal international attention has become focused on architectural strategies geared towards maintaining existing buildings in the face of evolving economic, social, demographic, et al, realities rather than demolishing and erecting new ones by way of a response; and also of the value, the economic, the social, the cultural and the environmental value, of reusing, remodelling and reimagining that which exists rather than replacing through rebuilding and replanning.
The Deutsche Architektur Zentrum Berlin’s exhibition Caring for what already exists. Ten Architectural Strategies was developed, and was scheduled to open, long, long, before Lacaton & Vassal’s selection; however, in asking questions of how buildings and urban spaces could, should, must?, evolve with those societies and communities around them, questions of the relationships between built environments and the communities with which they co-exist, its delayed opening has not only brought its themes a new popular relevance to compliment their unquestioned importance, but also allows it to help contribute to the sharpening or our collective foci in context of architecture and our built environments….
In context of the exhibition Luigi Colani and Art Nouveau, the Bröhan-Museum Berlin’s staircase is emblazoned with a long quote from Colani, a long and typically outspoken quote, in which Luigi Colani denigrates the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm, that design school which has such a prominent and pre-eminent position in popular understandings of design in post-War West Germany; and who for Luigi Colani were “defrauders of the German creative spirituality of the twenties and thirties! Imbecilic criminals.”1
A quote that not only neatly epitomises the (consciously cultivated) Colani communication strategy, nor only leads one to reflect on Colani’s own relationship to inter-War design in Germany, but for all leads one by necessity to question the validity of the accusation; and thereby to reflect on the relationship(s) between the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm and the “German creative spirituality of the twenties and thirties”, and by extrapolation to reflect on post-War design in West Germany……..
Cleaning is a chore.
If only we could get through life without the necessity of dusting, sweeping, washing, polishing et al…….
With the project Cleaning against the Dictatorship of Efficiency Birgit Severin and Guillaume Neu-Rinaudo a.k.a. studio b severin explore cleaning, its rituals, contexts, symbolism, functions, psychology, and in doing so enable differentiated perspectives on both that ubiquitous chore and the necessity in the necessity of dusting, sweeping, washing, polishing et al…………
The only certainty as 2020 flows into 2021 is the ongoing uncertainty. An uncertainty that is increasingly being understood as an ongoing certainty and thereby turning ever more “plans” into “options”.
And also causing a great many global architecture and design museums to skip over the first quarter of 2021 as if weren’t there, and to move their new exhibition openings to April and beyond.
A state of affairs which on the one hand means there are currently fewer lonelier locations than any given museum’s “future exhibitions” listings; but on the other hand means that much as the coldest hour is the one just before the dawn, so it is increasingly certain, as in “old” certain, that the paucity of new exhibitions opening in the first quarter of 2021 will cede to a flood come spring. And so you can now plan, as in old “plan”, to visit an exhibition a day come summer. And still have options. Old and new
And a state of affairs which has to a degree forced our hand and produced a hybrid recommendations list for January 2021: offline exhibitions in Berlin, Hamburg and Metz; online exhibitions from Warsaw and Weimar/Dessau.
And as ever in these times, if you do feel comfortable visiting any museum, please familiarise yourself in advance with the current ticketing, entry, safety, hygiene, cloakroom, etc rules and systems. And during your visit please stay safe, stay responsible, and above all, stay curious…….