Richard Serra, Berlin Junction, 1987 / Otto Herbert Hajek, Stadtzeichen/Gruppe von drei ” Raumzeichen”, 1972–1974 / Ulrich Brüschke, 0° Breite, 2012 | Photo: Mathias Rümmler
Hidden and eye-catching, obsolete and modern, unremarkable and prominent, the sight of public art in Berlin is ubiquitous, and its reception divisive. From larger then life sculptures to subtle textual interventions in unusual urban contexts, “Marmor für Alle” sets the encounter with some of the most important and public art across the city. After 1945, a boom began in the East and West Berlin, punctuating numerous places of assembly with some of the most iconic and cult fixtures: “Hand with Watch” by German artist Joachim Schmettau that featured in Depeche Mode music video, “Denkzeichen Rosa Luxemburg” by the infamous conceptual artist Hans Haacke, or the towering “Molecule Man” by Jonathan Borowsky rising from the Spree. Zooming in on different districts, each section of the book reveals and vivifies elements of the city’s biography through works of public art – evidencing the historical events and political ideas that shaped them.
A studio visit of Julie Mehretu, Vivienne Westwood at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien and a manifesto by Jonathan Meese |© Konrad Waldmann, Gebrüder Beetz Filmproduktion, Jonathan Meese
Museums are more then guardians of our material culture and narrators of alternative histories – they are witnesses to eras of dramatic battles and great triumphs, and moments of hope and happiness, which are inscribed in the biography of the buildings. Each of the eight-part documentary series The Art of Museums takes the audience on a visit to one of the world-class museums, accompanied by the art historian Dr. Matt Lodder, a lecturer at the University of Essex. The films also give viewers a look behind the otherwise closed doors of restoration workshops and depot rooms. In the Prado, curators unveil the largest Goya collection in the world. At the Musée d’Orsay, we take a look at the colour layers of Impressionist masterpieces with restorers, or enter a secret room in the high-security wing of the Oslo Munch Museum, which houses “The Scream,” one of the world’s most expensive paintings. Every visit unfolds as a personal encounter between one of the masterworks and a renowned artist and designer such as Jonathan Meese, Marina Abramovic, Norman Foster, Ólafur Elíasson, Vivianne Westwood and Wolfgang Joop, who each inject their own idiosyncratic outlook into the mediation of works.
The manifesto by Friedrich von Borries, an installation view from the exhibition at Neue Sammlung The Design Museum and Die Münchner Rutsche, Berlin 2018 | © Projektbüro Friedrich von Borries, graphic manifesto: Ingo Offermanns, photo Die Münchner Rutsche: Achim Hatzius
The last decade has seen catastrophic shifts in global politics, economy and the environment. Foregrounding the role of contemporary positions in design, architect and design theorist Friedrich von Borries raises the question around socially and politically responsible practices. Engaging with his earlier literary work that proposed new methods for social criticism through art and design, the exhibition reframes Borries’ pragmatic approach through a series of interventions in the museum space. “Politics of Design” is the first of the three parts that conceptually underpin the exhibition and addresses the political moment in design. It uses the theses ”design sexualizes”, “design colonizes” and “design manipulates” as entryways to open up new perspective on Coca-Cola advertising, the Sony Walkman and modernist furniture. The second part of the exhibition takes a personal reading of the Friedrich von Borries’ work through a Sisyphean marble-run installation by the artist Mikael Mikael that points at the absurdist dimension of a politically active artist and designer. The third part “Design as Politics” explores the possibilities for shaping the political environment through design. Coexisting as a carrier of messages and a tool of influence design is used to persuade. The question we have a responsibility to ask is, “Persuade to do what and to whose benefit?”
Impressions of the Grill Royal photographed by Stefan Korte, Robert Rieger, Maxime Ballesteros and Peter Langer
It is customary to describe Grill Royal as an institution – more than a luxe restaurant boasting one of Berlins most extensive steak menus, it is an open and dynamic meeting place, exuding an offbeat sense of intimacy. The vision of owners Boris Radczun and Stephan Landwehr was seemingly straightforward; a restaurant where one could dine exquisitely, in good company, stumbling on an unlikely location in the basement of a former East German building. On gastronomic terms, Grill Royal, run together with Moritz Estermann, draws stimuli from the classic grill restaurants found in grand hotels, but to anyone who has spent an evening there, it becomes abundantly clear that it resists any easy classification. The story of Grill Royal is reflected in the book GRILL ROYAL, accompanied with the photo reportage A Day by Peter Langer, portraying previously unreleased impressions of the hustle and bustle behind the scenes of the restaurant, while Maxime Ballesteros captures the unique atmosphere at night in A Night. Further images are included by Stefan Korte, Florian Bolk and Robert Rieger. The texts on hospitality and meat come from Adriano Sack, Erwin Seitz, René Pollesch and Prof. Thomas Vilgis. In addition, Stuart Pigott talks to Andrea Kauk and Moritz Estermann about the wine selection.
When designer duo Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby observe that “the rules of formal work are dissolving, resulting in the archetype of classic desk disappearing”, they underline a growing transformation of work environment, setting the scene for Vitra’s latest presentation at Orgatec trade fair. Under the tile “WORK” Vitra addresses the increased merging of office and public space, highlighting three exemplary office concepts which make propositions for the changing needs of modern work. Konstantin Grcic’s concept of “Superflexible Office” deals with the possibilities of constantly rebuilding the office while still preserving its identity: open to be reconfigured as a meeting room, a café or a communal space. With “Company Home”, the architect Sevil Peach has developed a different scenario which also includes a park and a dining area – elements of public space that are becoming an integral part of architecture in more corporate headquarters. “Shared Office” blurs the boundaries between the office and the public space, as we become more familiarised with working in environments such as co-working spaces, cafés and hotel lobbies. As part of this concept “Soft Work” is a new modular sofa system by Vitra that responds to these conditions, developed in collaboration with designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby.
What is social design and is there such a thing anyway? The term is typically used to label the work of those designers and architects who focus on tasks born out of humanitarian and socio-political issues, and it has often gone hand in hand with moralism and sweeping declarations. In a world growing deficient in both resources and energy, questions regarding inclusion, social justice, and sustainability are becoming more relevant to today’s design than ever before. In the 1960s and 70s Viktor Papanek was among the first to address not only issues of living conditions, class and income difference, but also environmental responsibility. Many designers practicing today carry in their pocket his “little green book” Design for the Real World (1971), which remains the most widely read book about design ever published. The exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum dedicated to the life and work of this prolific author, designer and lecturer is set to re-examine methods, usage and applications of Papanek’s approach to design as a political tool. Both a retrospective and a thematic exhibition, it gathers his manifold drawings, objects, films, manuscripts, and prints, some of which have never before been presented. Drawing upon his inter-disciplinary and collaborative methods, the exhibition forges dialogues between contemporary works from the areas of critical and social design, and radical positions from the 1960s to 1980s, including legendary figures such as George Nelson, Richard Buckminster Fuller, Marshall McLuhan, or the radical design initiative ‘Global Tools’. Contemporary works from the areas of critical and social design provide insight into Papanek’s lasting impact.
Victor J. Papanek, We are all handicapped (drafted with students in 1969). Section from Big Character Poster No. 1: Work Chart for Designers (1973). | Victor J. Papanek, Tin Can Radio, 1971. | Victor J. Papanek filming the WNED-TV Channel 17 programme Design Dimensions in Buffalo, NY (1961 – 1963). | Victor J. Papanek, The minimal design team (drafted with students in 1969). Section from Big Character Poster No. 1: Work Chart for Designers (1973). | © University of Applied Arts Vienna, Victor J. Papanek Foundation
As a vital instrument for promoting the work of both younger artists and established figures, the main section of the fair will present a comprehensive overview of contemporary positions, with six Brazilian galleries joining together to present contemporary Latin American art, while four Austrian galleries will focus on sculpture. Continuing on the fair’s commitment to experimenting with the modes of display and overturning the expectations of a commercial fair, art berlin will also offer a blizzard of other strands. Galleries such as Sprüth Magers, Galerie Neu and neugerriemschneider are highlighting solo presentations and curated projects, maintaining the fair’s original commitment to a more comprehensive overview of individual artistic practices. Inaugurating the fair’s new Salon format, a large-scale group exhibition curated by Paris-based curator Tenzing Barshee, will bring together works from more then 40 galleries in a customized spatial configuration, designed by the upcoming London-based architect Alessandro Bava. In the close proximity to the main building and as part of the surrounding outdoor park, art berlin will present a number of new sculptures.
Julian Charrière, An Invitation to Disappear – Tenggarong © The artist; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
“The bright sun was extinguished, morning came and went and came, and brought no day,” noted the Romantic poet Lord Byron in his diary, amidst the general atmosphere of mysterious darkness and cataclysmic desolation that hit the world in 1815. The year when the warm-bright and flaming red pyroclastic flows of hot volcanic debris rolled down the volcano atop the paradise landscape of Indonesian island of Sobwoa, catalyzing one of the world’s biggest natural climate crises. The volcano’s name Tambora, which translates as “an invitation to disappear” ominously signified the dystopian scenario that in its monumental and global impact on landscape, reconciled the sublime beauty and pervasive atrocity. The ensuing “year without summer” aggregated global floods and famines but it also produced unexpected beauty that rose from the ruinous decay. The sunsets changed due to the countless aerosols in the atmosphere, diversifying the spectrum of colours, that would later resurface in the luminous surfaces of J.M.W. Turner and Caspar David Friedrich during this period. Some 200 years later the invitation to disappear confronts the contemporary hyper-industrialized society with anthropogenic dimensions, leaving strange new synthetic forms in the environment that loom with a premonition of “a year without winter.” Through a trans-disciplinary and multifaceted field of research that inventively links geology, biology, physics, history and archaeology, the artist Julian Charrière delves into post-romantic constructions of nature, where deep geological timescales are brought into tension with those of the mankind. Hosted at Berghain, his audio visual performance Invitation to Disappear projects adistant burning image of a synthetic jungle, emerging through a mullti-sensory journey between flickering light and spectral techno, soundtracked by Inland. Julian Charrière will also present a new spatial installation As We Used to Float at Berlinische Galerie.
BALTHUS, THÉRÈSE, 1938 © Balthus, Foto: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florenz | BALTHUS, LA PARTIE DE CARTES, 1948 – 1950 © Balthus | BALTHUS, PASSAGE DU COMMERCE-SAINT-ANDRÉ, 1952–1954 © Balthus; Foto: Mark Niedermann
The emotionally charged narratives of Polish-French painter Balthus, an anti-modernist beloved by modernists, are poignant, loaded, somewhat cryptical and sensuous. Too often they serve as backdrops to foregrounding the provocative undertones of his infamous mise-en-scénes where young girls recline in between states of dream-like repose and enraptured reawakening. Balthus himself dismissed attributing any perceived eroticism to viewers with unclean minds. What makes his work actual and up-to-date is the way it reconfigures certain moral dilemmas in light of different cultural moments, and raises the question about the role of censorship in relation to artistic freedom. Born Balthasar Klossowski, he cultivated an air of mystery and myth, secluding himself in old-world country houses and castles in France, Italy, and Switzerland. A new retrospective at Fondation Beyeler reaffirms the artist’s long-standing relationship to Switzerland and seeks to expose a multifaceted legacy by bringing to light a broader picture. It seems as if Balthus, who lived through nearly the entire 20th century, delighted in perfecting a visual language that feels outside history, nurturing an eccentric detachment from modernism. Taking the little known and monumental work Passage du Commerce-Saint-Andréas a focal point, the exhibition manifests the artist’s intensive engagement with the dimensions of space and time, as a way of distilling and constructing the relationship between the figure and object. The ethos of our age aspires to respond with action to subjects we find unsettling, disturbing or troubling but the work of art cannot be tamed, only responses to it.