There is an argument to be made that popular understandings of, and the popular presentation of, inter-War European avant-garde architecture and design tend to focus on Germany and Russia, and on Functionalism, popular foci that tend to cause us all to forget that the inter-War European avant-Garde was a homogenous mix of positions and, and as with the Art Nouveau before it, an international moment defined by its variety of regional dialects.
With the exhibition Hej rup! The Czech Avant-Garde the Bröhan Museum, Berlin, provide for an introductory course in inter-War Czechoslovakian…….
The popular Bauhaus focus, preoccupation, of discussions on creativity in the 1920s very naturally leads to us all ignoring other important protagonists, causes us all, when oft unwittingly, to miss other equally valid, and enjoyable, paths to appreciations of developments in craft, design, technology and our objects of daily use in the early decades of the 20th century, that important, and still very relevant, period where handwork increasingly ceded to industry.
With Haël. Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein and her workshops for decorative ceramics 1923-1934 the Bröhan Museum, Berlin, helps one locate, and begin to explore, one of those regularly overlooked paths and thereby allows one to begin to develop those more probable appreciations…….
In July 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and as Neil Armstrong stepped from the Eagle lunar module he announced it was, “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”.
And inarguably it was. And was.
But what has it brought mankind?
Apart from an awful lot of conspiracy theories. And an ongoing fascination with space that drives the irrational belief that in the 21st century we urgently require everything which appeared in 1950s and 1960s science fiction comics and films in order to have happy, functioning societies.
Yes, it also brought us Gil Scott-Heron’s, ever glorious, and still very relevant, Whitey on the Moon; a work that through it’s continuing, unabated, undiluted, relevance reminds us all how little Apollo 11 has brought mankind.
Other small steps can, we’d argue, be much more meaningful. Can enable longer leaps in more meaningful directions.
Such as the small step into an architecture or design museum; a step that can, will, inform and entertain, can, will, allow fresh insights and perspectives, can, will, cause a questioning and reflection: and thereby, potentially, enable the development of differentiated thoughts and appreciations on the now and on that now still to come. And perhaps in doing so quell a few conspiracy theories. And so allow for the development of a future worthy of the name.
Our five featured short steps for July 2023 can be taken in Stuttgart, New York, Hornu, London and Berlin…….
“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…….
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…….
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…….
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 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……
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……..
In 1977 the German designer Luigi Colani demanded a “renaissance of Art Nouveau”1
What he meant, why he meant it, and if it is something we should all fear, can be explored and considered in the exhibition Luigi Colani and Art Nouveau at the Bröhan-Museum, Berlin…….
Tuesday September 22nd marks the 2020 Southward Equinox, and thus the start of autumn in the northern hemisphere, and of spring in the southern hemisphere. Two seasons known throughout history for the vagaries, capriciousness, of their weather.
And thus two seasons perfectly suited to a longer architecture and design, or art, museum visit.
Our recommendations for four new showcases opening in September (autumn) 2020 can be found in Berlin, Kolding, Düsseldorf and Berlin (again); our recommendation for a new showcase opening in September (spring) 2020 can be found in Sydney.
And as ever in these times, if you do feel comfortable about 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….
Having started this Bauhaus Weimar centenary year by exploring the path from Arts and Crafts to Bauhaus, the Bröhan Museum Berlin end this Bauhaus Weimar centenary year by exploring the path from Bauhaus to
Arts and Crafts Scandinavia.
Or more accurately put, by exploring Nordic Design. The Response to the Bauhaus.
More or less……
….. Back in May 2019 the sheer number of new architecture and design exhibitions opening globally allowed us to produce two recommendations lists: one featuring exhibitions with a strong Bauhaus/inter-War Modernism focus, and one more general, less focussed.
Spring forward five months and with the global museum community now fully awoken from their summer slumber we once again find ourselves with a cornucopia of new exhibitions that invites two lists. An invitation we would consider rude to decline.
In May we started with the more general exhibitions and so this time it seemed only fair to begin with new exhibitions in Berlin, Weimar, Cottbus, London W1 and London E17 that explore Bauhaus and inter-War modernism in a relatively wide sense, but then the wider the sense, the more detailed the understanding….
Despite what some may have us believe, Bauhaus didn’t appear one morning from the slowly clearing mists of the Ilm valley; rather, and for all its lasting allure, Bauhaus ’twas but a moment on a longer, wider, international helix. One which began its twisting long before Walter Gropius and his merry band arrived in Weimar, and which continues, winding its way ever onwards, to this day.
With the exhibition From Arts and Crafts to the Bauhaus. Art and Design – A New Unity! the Bröhan Museum Berlin explore the helix as it approached and then, briefly, informed Bauhaus.
The reason most of us fail to keep most of our New Year resolutions is, mostly, because we either resolve to give up things we enjoy or to do things we don’t.
Which is foolhardy in the extreme.
If you wanted to do more sport, you would.
If you wanted to eat less crisps, you would.
But don’t. And don’t. So don’t.
The wiser choice is to resolve to do more of that which you enjoy, and thereby not only setting yourself an achievable goal but one which through the genuine fulfilment it brings benefits you spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically; therefore, let us all, collectively, promise to visit more architecture and design exhibitions in 2019 than we did in 2018.
Our five starters for January 2019 can be found in Frankfurt, Malmö, New York, Berlin and Stuttgart……………..
“Marcel Breuer seeing a pair of bicycle handle-bars decided to make chairs using the same industrial process. The new world