Monday, July 11, 2016

Germany – Day 6 – Frankfurt

I managed to get all of my timing correct this trip. It was indeed raining, as the weather forecast had indicated, so I was glad I did all my outside sightseeing yesterday, when it was sunny. It was raining, so my plan to hit a bunch of museums was a complete success.

Museum 1: Städel Art Museum
This museum is one of the more classic art museums in the region. It’s got 700 years of art including 3,000 paintings, 600 sculptures, 4,000 photographs, and more than 100,000 drawings and prints. It’s massive. It’s got all of the old “masters” (Dürer, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso, and a bunch of others you’d recognize. I learned a few years ago how to blow through any museum in about two hours. Only stop at things there are crowds at (because it’s probably something important) and stop at things that catch your eye for personal reasons. This really helped in this museum as I walked quickly through each and every room not stopping at every piece. THAT’s how you do it. There are too many pieces to note in detail, but here are a few. 

There was a piece by Paul Meyeheim called Die eifersuchtige Lowin (The Jealous Lioness) that I wished I had gotten a photo of - it's a woman petting a male lion while a lioness is reaching through the bars of her cage to stop the woman - very moving and would brilliant on my wall.

There’s a Marc Chagall painting called “The Pinch of Snuff” from 1912. Chagall always amuses me because there’s always something weird happening in his paintings. Sometimes, people are having sex with donkeys in the background and other times, there’s a Jewish guy smoking a J.

I also saw this crazy robot painting by Bettina von Arnim called “Hosenträger – Braces” that was both creepy and beautiful at the same time. Loved it.

No time to lose, so I left, walked down the same street for about three blocks and went to the Museum of Applied Art. Wasn’t really sure what I was going to see here, but it came highly recommended.

Museum 2: Museum für Angewandte Kunst
First, I was very amused that this building had inflatable monkeys all over/around it. Like GIANT ones.

I didn’t realize it was part of the exhibit The Happy Show by Stefan Sagmeister. There was music playing in the entry of the museum that was also part of the exhibit. Sagmeister set out on a person and physical journey to determine what made him and other people happy. He did meditation, relaxation, cognitive behavioral therapy, mood elevators, and he combined all of these various things into an exhibit that makes people happy. I’m not joking here. The entire exhibit uses highly emotional information graphics, handwritten notes on the walls/floors/electrical sockets, headlines, prints, instructive and interactive videos, films, installations, and modern art that absolutely made people smile. People walking around had huge smiles on their faces, including myself. I can’t recommend this travelling show enough and if it comes back to the US, I’m going to travel to see it. It’s THAT impactful. I can’t even explain what is going on with most of it. Sometimes you walk in a dark room and put on headphones and watch slow motion videos with fun music and other times, you’re interacting with the technology like riding a bike to light happy neon signs or sitting in bean bag chairs. Sometimes, like in this photo, you’re watching sound waves create ripples in water. 

And sometimes, you walk by an elevator that he painted in such a way that when the doors close, the people are having sex. Hilarious.

It was magical and I am so glad I went to it.

After the Happy exhibit, I walked around the regular collection and looked at all the unusual pieces they have that are sort of about everyday life. There was a sink/stove piece that I’d love to have in my own home. Weird, but functional and definitely a conversation piece.

And there’s another entire section of the museum devoted to typography. I know a bunch of designers and font-nazis (no pun intended, since we’re in Germany) that would have seriously geeked out over this place.

Museum 3: Caricatura – Museum für Komische Kunst (Museum of cartoons and illustration)

This museum was quite unusual in that it was walls completely covered with one-panel cartoons with hilarious sayings. Most of them were translated into English, so most of it made sense to me, but it was a weird place. It wasn’t really a comic museum or graphic novel kind of art – just single-panel chuckle-worthy pieces that I’m sure were truly impactful when first invented and probably less impactful now. People who love the single-panel comics in the Atlantic magazine would probably really love this museum. I blew through it pretty quickly.

Right across the street was St. Bartholomew’s, which I climbed to the top of the previous day. I thought I’d go inside and have a look around. It’s stunning inside with the old timey architecture, since it was started in the 7th century. Awesome building.

Museum 4: Museum für Moderne Kunst (Modern Art Museum)
This museum has some pretty crazy things in it. Too many to discuss everything, but it’s got all kinds of fun art by people you’d recognize like Andy Warhol, Lichtenstein, and others. Even the building design itself is really modern and curvy and weird.

My favorite installation was a room full of pendulums swinging and on pneumatic piston timers. Sometimes they’re totally in sync, and other times, they’re popping off at random and the result is hypnotic. I loved it. It’s by William Forsythe and called “Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No. 3”.

I needed a snack after seeing four museums, so I stopped at a street vendor and grabbed some frites and ate them in the rain.

Then I walked back to my hotel and passed the European Central Bank’s Eurotower – which is a pretty high security building with armed guards walking around it all the time. Cool building.

I knew this was my last day in Germany, so I made some plans for a special dinner for myself. I plotted out maps in my hotel room and tried to figure out how and where I was going. It all came together rather smoothly, but that’s another blog post, my friends.


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