I spent four or five days in Berlin. I saw lots of good stuff.
The Hamburger Bahnhof is probably my favourite of the Berlin Museums. They have a really good permanent collection of post-1960s art, like they have cherrypicked all the best stuff. Of particular note are the giant Anselm Kiefer pictures, though I was not such a fan of the works by Joseph Beuys. I also liked seeing some vintage Rauschenberg and surprisingly the 1972 giant Mao painting by Andy Warhol; I usually think most of the work he made after being shot was pretty terrible, but this one had an interesting scale if you look directly up at it.
The Hamburger Bahnhof.
There was also a fantastic temporary exhibition by the lunatic expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Coming out I am convinced Kirchner is the best of the true German Expressionist gang, he was a true nutcase. Photographs of his house, which he heavily decorated with mock African furniture of his own construction, was a particular highlight.
Ernst hanging out in his weird house accompanied by friend with a wicked haircut.
Elsewhere at the excellent Bauhaus Museum I saw a really cool small exhibition by the great photographer Lucia Moholy. It turns out she was also the author of a really good early history of photography. The Bauhaus Museum collection is also amazing, a real greatest hits, and it’s a really fun place to hang around.
Portrait of Florence Henri, 1930 by Lucia Moholy.
At the Berlinische Galerie I saw an interesting early work by Hannah Hoch, unusually not a collage but a painting. The influence of collage however is still really evident. Hoch had really great painting skills which was interesting to see.
The Journalists by Hannah Hoch.
A good accompaniment to these grotesques was the installation of the great Ed Kienholz’s immersive sculpture The Art Show. I really loved seeing this, it really was impossible to tell real people apart from the rather disgusting sculptures, and there were so many tiny details to explore as the viewer. I would love to make a piece of work with this immersive quality.
The Art Show, 1963-77 by Ed Kienholz.
Finally at the Helmut Newton Foundation, possibly the best photography museum in Berlin, I saw pictures by the photographer Alice Springs. My favourites by far were her fantastic pictures of street weirdness in Los Angeles, the bulk of which unfortunately appear not to be on the internet.
Pictures by Alice Springs.
What I was most enamoured with in Berlin was the city itself. The streets are constantly interesting, there is so much variety and life, and regular people still live in the very centre of town. The atmosphere, especially at night, is fantastic, streetlights seem to stretch off infinitely into the distance and everything is bathed in weird white light. I was also really drawn to the subway, which for long periods travels above ground, and is full of really interesting people.