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INDIA AWAKENS at the Essl Museum
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2010 California Biennial
Homage to a Metropolis: Berlin Images in the Kunsthalle Koidl
Deutsche Bank Supports São Paulo Biennial
Being Singular Plural
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Homage to a Metropolis
Berlin Images in the Kunsthalle Koidl


With works ranging from classic modernism to contemporary, "Berliner Bilder" (Berlin Images) is a multifaceted panorama of the German capital. In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Berliner Bank, the exhibition in the Kunsthalle Koidl presents highlights from the collections of both Berliner and Deutsche Bank.


Berlin is one of the most coveted places on the global scene: widely considered a creative laboratory, it attracts artists from all over the world. Now, the exhibition Berliner Bilder makes the German capital's unique energy palpable. In the Kunsthalle Koidl, works from various different times and styles are presented that reflect the turbulent history of the metropolis, its people, and its architecture. The spectrum reaches from the classics of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) to works by stars of the young Berlin scene such as Marc Brandenburg and Birgit Brenner.

With a focus on drawing and photography, Berliner Bilder unites high-caliber works from the collections of Deutsche and Berliner Bank, which celebrates its 60th anniversary with the exhibition. Instead of a chronological presentation, the show thematically juxtaposes various times and movements. Thus, the Neo-Expressive works of Karl Horst Hödicke and the "Young Wilds" correspond with Georg Grosz's Menschen im Kaffeehaus (People in a Coffeehouse, 1918). With the cool precision of a surgeon, Grosz draws the image of a society coming apart at the seams-a grotesque hurly-burly of officers and war profiteers thoroughly enjoying themselves after the winter of starvation of 1917/18. An ambivalent relationship to life in the big city can also be seen in a drawing by Otto Dix from the year 1926: his view into one of the typical saloons of the nineteen-twenties, with nude dancers and bar girls, evinces a mixture of fascination and disgust.

At the end of the 1970s, a young generation of artists picked up on the styles of the Weimar Republic while at the same time turning their backs to the movements of Minimalism and Conceptual Art that were dominant at the time. In Berlin, painters like Rainer Fetting, Helmut Middendorf, and Salomé founded the Galerie am Moritzplatz, where the "Young Wilds" presented their expressive, dynamic paintings that captured the feeling of the Punk and New Wave era before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thus, Middendorf's Electric Night (1979) portrayed singers and dancers in the legendary Club SO36. While Salomé staged himself as an androgynous nightlife figure in his self-portrait, Fetting's Selbstportrait mit Blumen I (Self-portrait with Flowers, 1981) testifies to his fascination for van Gogh.

Architectural records like the cool photographs of the Finnish artist Ola Kolehmainen and Hans-Martin Sewcz's views of East Berlin attest to the city's transformation. Kolehmainen's See What You See (2006) makes a high-rise façade look like a minimalist sculpture, while Sewcz's melancholic images of storefront windows or Trabbis crowding a parking lot subtly visualize the overwhelming dreariness of the GDR shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Juxtaposed with these photographs is Cai Guo-Qiang's video work Illusion II. In 2006, the Chinese artist had a small, typically German pre-fab house built on the grounds of Anhalter Bahnhof, which he then blew up using fireworks: according to Cai, a reflection on the contradictory forces of violence and beauty.

Behind turn-of-the-century Berlin facades are Marc Brandenburg's evocative pencil drawings. He portrays the typical murky stairwells and improvised apartments of young people who fled to the walled-in "frontline" city to pursue radical self-discovery. The works, reduced to shades of black, white, and grey, lead the viewer into the world of West Berlin bohemian artist life around the time of Reunification. It seems as though Brandenburg were seeking to capture impressions of the recent past on paper-as a visual diary whose entries add up to form a subjective view of the city in which he lives.

Von Friedrich Seidenstücker's street scenes, taken in the early 1930s, to Jörg Immendorff's linoleum print Rosa Luxemburg mit Tränen (Rosa Luxemburg with Tears) from the series Café Deutschland Gut (1982)-Berliner Bilder presents a variety of different perspectives of the German capital. The historical architecture of the Kunsthalle Koidl, which resides in a transformer station built in 1928, offers the ideal context for this exhibition, which sees itself as an homage both to an inimitable city and its inhabitants.

Berliner Bilder
Werke aus den Sammlungen
Berliner Bank und Deutsche Bank
September 10 - November 13, 2010
Kunsthalle Koidl, Berlin




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