ART AND TERROR WALKING TOUR-BERLIN

On a recent walking tour of Mitte in Berlin with friend, former student, animator, illustrator and printmaker Michelle Park, other walking tours crossed our path. Starting out in Bezirk Kreuzburg we passed the Deutsches Currywurst Museum in Schützenstraße, Checkpoint Charlie Museum in Friedrichstraße, then walked along Niederkirchnerstraße to the old Gestapo and SS Headquarters site.

Michael Hill and Michelle Park walking in Berlin. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Michael Hill and Michelle Park out walking in Berlin. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

The Headquarters had taken a direct hit from English bombing during World War II and were demolished after the war. It is now an open-air museum Topography Des Terrors (Topography of Terror) with some remaining rubble, a section of the Berlin Wall(without the barbed wire) plus information placards and a new building with displayed information. The exhibition on show was called Errfast, Verfolgt, Vernichtet (Registered, Persecuted, Annihilated). It was both grim and candid about the horror that had taken place there.

Site of Gestapo Headquarters. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Site of Gestapo Headquarters. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Section of Wall still standing. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Section of the Berlin Wall. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Next door at Martin Gropius Bau museum was the Hans Richter exhibition Begegnungen, Von Dada Bis Heute (Encounters: From Dada to the Present Day) that was part of the Berlin Festival, the David Bowie exhibition from the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Evidence. This building had also suffered from the bombing, not as much as the Gestapo site, and had been restored except from some scarification from shrapnel and bullets.

Decorative fascia on column at entrance to Martin Gropius Bau museum. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Decorative fascia on column at entrance to Martin Gropius Bau, with bullet holes. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

With both of us interested in animation and printmaking I wanted to show Michelle this wonderful exhibition of the artistic career of Hans Richter who had been born in Berlin in 1888 and was a key figure in 20th Century art and animation. Three sides of Martin Gropius Bau had been allocated so a lot of walking was required to cover the space filled with his woodcuts and paintings, his contributions to Dada including Dada magazine and his own zine G -Material zur elementarun Gestaltung (Material for elementary design), his experiments with painted scrolls that led him to the discovery of displaying images in motion through animation, his abstract animations and live-action films including Dreams That Money Can Buy, and some home movies, plus documentation of his film teaching work in New York. Added to this were works by colleagues Max Ernst, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz, Francis Picabia, Viking Eggeling, Alexander Calder and Kurt Schwitters. Richter was a well connected man.

Hans Richter exhibition pamphlet at Martin Gropius Bau.

Hans Richter exhibition pamphlet at Martin Gropius Bau.

DADA: Art And Anti-Art by Hans Richter.

DADA: art and anti-art by Hans Richter.

Hans Richter Linocut for Dada magazine.

RichterCut#2With a life’s work on display there was so much connected visual material in the exhibition that we found ourselves walking back and forth. We could have spent 4 or 5 hours watching the films, videos and documentaries alone. It was an exhibition that called for fresh legs and more than one visit. Good art, big show!

Blauer Mann, 1917, by Hans Richter

Blauer Mann, 1917, by Hans Richter

Visionary self-portrait by Hans Richter.

Visionary self-portrait by Hans Richter.

Stalingrad (Sieg im Osten) scroll painting by Hans Richter.

Stalingrad (Sieg im Osten) (Victory in the East), scroll painting by Hans Richter.

Dada-Kopf (Dada Head) by Hans Richter.

Abstract animation: (L) Diagonal Symphony by Viking Eggeling (R) Rhythmus 21 by Hans Richter. (Click this link to view the Richter film on UbuWeb).

Abstract animation: (L) Diagonal Symphony by Viking Eggeling (R) Rhythmus 21 by Hans Richter. (Click this link to view the Richter film on UbuWeb).

 

TRACKING COMICS AND GRAFIKS IN BERLIN

This post visually documents a recent walking tour of Berlin’s Staadt Mittee area with local resident and linguist Mailef as my guide. The plan was to see graffiti and traces of an artists’ commune (kunsthaus) and to visit Renate comics shop and bibliothek which has been located there since the early 1990s, and look at some of the German kunst comicbuchs(art comics) in stock.

Finding the Tacheles building. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Finding the Kunsthaus Tacheles building in the Mitte district of Berlin. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Graffiti (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill).

Layered grafiks and graffiti “For Free” (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Looking at street grafiks. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Studying the street grafiks. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Mailef escorted me to the Kunsthaus (arthouse) Tacheles building on Oranienburger Strasse on a site that was previously part of East Berlin when the wall was up. The Tacheles (translation “let’s talk business”) building had, over a century, successively housed an elegant shopping arcade, Nazi offices then squatter artists. The building was damaged in World War 2 then repaired by the GDR, vacated in 1989 then occupied as an international artist squat in the 1990s. The artists were eventually displaced/evicted by representatives of the investors in 2012.

Graffiti (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Graffiti (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Graffiti (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Graffiti (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Recording some images. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Recording images. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Renate Comics Shop. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Renate Comics signboard. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Art comics (kunst comicbuchs) by the hundreds were available at Renate Comics, many of which were signed and marked as limited editions. These varied in size from A6 minicomics to the larger A3 format. Art postcards (kunst postkartes) have become an additional creative outlet for comics creators and there was a range of these in a rotating rack on the pavement outside the shop.

Postcard rack at Renate's.(Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Postcard rack at Renate Comics. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Maike Leffers and poster. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

“Is this the way how art dies?”Mailef and poster. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Art minicomicbuch purchase from Renate- Pure Sultana by Franziska Schaum.

Art minicomicbuch purchase from the shop- Pure Sultana by Franziska Schaum.