Your Guide To The Berlin Wall's East Side Gallery

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


The Berlin Wall cut through the center of Berlin from August of 1961 to November of 1989, separating the Soviet Union from Western powers. More than just a wall though, it was a complex military system that rose more than 12 feet high and had 302 towers, 12,000 guards and countless kilometers of barbed wire. 

The Location of the Berlin Wall IEG-MAPS, Institute of European History, Mainz / © A. Kunz, 2004

The Location of the Berlin Wall
IEG-MAPS, Institute of European History, Mainz / © A. Kunz, 2004

Countless numbers of people attempted to cross the wall in the 28 years that it stood, trying to escape Soviet soldiers, many of which were shot before they could even scale it's sturdy, gray, concrete facade. 

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, 118 artists from 21 different countries came to create spontaneous works of art on a remaining, still-standing section of it. It officially opened as an open-air gallery in September of 1990. 

This section is now the longest surviving stretch of the wall and its 1.3 kilometers located on the banks of the Spree in Friedrichshain, are covered in approximately 106 paintings, making it the largest outdoor gallery in the world.

Becuase it is exposed to the elements, and vandals, there have been many efforts over the years to restore the artworks.

According to the tourist information website for the gallery, "In 1996, Kani Alavi founded East Side Gallery e. V., an artists’ initiative to preserve and restore the works. By 2000, a 300-metre stretch of the wall had already been restored and 33 pictures repainted, and in 2009 the whole East Side Gallery was restored. 87 artists took part and 100 paintings were restored."

Location

 

Admission

None! The Gallery is open-air and open to the public for FREE! 

Opening Hours

The gallery is always open, as it is just a part of the street. Visit whenever you like! 

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Berlin Wall's East Side Art Gallery
Berlin Wall's East Side Art Gallery



Creating David: The Story Of Michelangelo's Famous Statue of David

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


In 1501, Michelangelo (yes, the same guy who painted the famous Sistine Chapel located in the Vatican in Rome) accepted a commission to carve a marble sculpture of the biblical David to be placed high atop a buttress on the Florentine Cathedral

Interestingly, the commission was originally offered to Leonardo da Vinci who rejected it on the grounds that he despised marble sculpture as an inferior art, good only for artisans —(shockingly) he and Michelangelo were NOT best friends.

He scampered up and down the ladder as lightly as a cat, working the stout neck, heroic head and mass of curls from the top of the scaffold, carving the spine with great care to indicate that it carried and directed the whole body and was the mainspring of all movement. There could be no part of the David that was not palpable, and perfect.
— From "The Agony and the Ecstasy" by Irving Stone

It took four years for Michelangelo to carve the famous sculpture out of an 18-foot-tall marble block that had been damaged by another sculptor during the 1460s. Upon its completion in 1504, it was so admired by the people of Florence that they decided to place it in the square next to the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of the Florentine government, instead of on top the Cathedral. 

The MAIN reason behind this relocation decision, however, was because of what the statue represented to the citizens of Florence.

If you are not familiar with the David and Goliath story, it is from the Bible and tells a tale of the power of "right over might". This sculpture represents the character David who by slinging a rock at the giant Goliath, kills him and, in doing so, saves his people.

Though David had been sculpted by many other artists (Donatello and Bernini both carved the subject) he is usually represented after the fight, with David being depicted as a triumphant hero.

For the first time, Michelangelo depicted his David pre-battle.

With a slingshot over his shoulder, a rock in his hand, tense muscles, and a concentrated gaze, this David seems to be psychologically preparing for the danger ahead. 

Why was this so meaningful to Florence at the time? 

Italy was not a peaceful, united country in this era. The main cities were ruled by powerful families that were always trying to come up with new ways to conquer each other.

At the time that the David was completed, the Florentines had recently fought a war (and won) against the combined forces of Milan, Siena, and Pisa — the little guy conquered a larger foe!

It took FOUR days to move the statue (VERY CAREFULLY!!!) on tree trunks down the narrow streets of Florence, from Michelangelo’s workshop to the Palazzo Vecchio. And there it sat until 1837 when it was replaced by a copy and moved into the Galleria dell’ Accademia to protect it from the elements.

It is said that when carving David, Michelangelo wanted to ensure that the sculpture would convey beauty and emotion from every angle.

As someone who has seen this famous work, in person from ALL angles (ahem…) I can tell you that this goal was not only achieved, it was surpassed. 

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10 Reasons Why I Love The Met In NYC and You Will Too

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


If you’ve never been to New York before, The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) might seem like it’s just another museum in the longgggg list of museums and art galleries that are on must-see lists for the city. But it is not just like the others, ohhhhhhh no my friend, it is not. 

Here are 10 reasons why you need to add visiting The Met to your New York travel list.

1. Visit The Met for FREE
That's right, there is no charge to enter this museum. Like most of the museums in New York there is a "suggested donation" posted, but when you go up to that ticket counter, you can either say that you don't want to donate, or give however much you want to. Give something if you can — you are about to see some incredible treasures! 

2. The Location
This sprawling, massive white building is perched on the edge of Central Park on Fifth Avenue in the Upper East Side. That means that views from its many windows are of the beautiful green space, and there are lots of paths for you to stroll if you need to take a break from a full day of wandering through galleries. 

3. The Quality of The Collection
The quality and diversity of the pieces at The Met are as good as, or arguably better than, those at The Louvre and The British Museum. Founded in 1870, it actually is home to one of the largest permanent collections in the world — more than 2 million objects, many of which are different than anything I have seen anywhere else.  

4. The Layout
The galleries cover an astonishing 17 acres! What I found incredible about the layout though, was how I never felt cramped or overwhelmed by the collection. Though the vast number of objects is staggering, they are displayed in a way that allows you to take everything in. As you wander through the different rooms, you will also find that each one is designed to reflect the antiquities that are inside it. Whether it is a Greek sculpture garden with soaring ceilings, a cozy Egyptian tomb, or a portrait gallery that feels like it's in the hall of a grand palace, you will feel completely transported. 

5. You Can Take Photos
Just like the art galleries and museums in Europe, photos are allowed as long as you don't use a flash. As an added bonus, a lot of the rooms have natural light, so taking photos without a flash doesn't pose as much of a problem as it does in the museums in Europe. 

6. The Egyptian Art
This wing was one of my favourites to walk through. There was an unrivalled collection of jewellery and adornments — necklaces, toe covers, hair decoration — and I loved the way it was displayed. The Temple of Dendur in this wing is an exhibit that is often used for special events, and you will recognize it from its appearance in multiple films. 

7. The Sculptures
I don't know about you, but I could sit and look at Greek and Roman sculptures for days. The way that bodies were carved out of marble to look so supple and soft that you imagine that it would feel like human skin if you touched them (don't touch them) is mesmerizing. And the multiple sculpture galleries at The Met do not disappoint. Make sure you spend some time in the European Sculpture Court and the gallery in the Greek and Roman Art wing.  

8. The Arts of Africa, Oceania & The Americas Collection
Spectacularly displayed, this is an unbelievable collection of work by Indigenous groups from all over the world. Artifacts vary from Mayan gold and carved Native American masks to ceramics from New Mexico and ceremonial ceilings from the tribes of New Guinea.   

9. The Restaurants
Not only is the food spectacular at the museum's many restaurants, but it is accompanied by stunning views overlooking Central Park. Don't miss the Great Hall Balcony Bar that is essentially a pop-up bar open only on Friday and Saturday nights from 4:30 pm – 8 pm. There are wine flights, cocktails, appetizers, and live music all set in the opulence of the Great Hall. 

10. There is More Than One Met! 
Yes, you read that right. The Met on Fifth is just one part (the largest part), of the collection. The Met Breuer houses a collection of art from the 20th and 21st centuries, and The Met Cloisters is dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe.  

HOT TIPS TO MAKE YOUR VISIT EVEN BETTER! 
–If you want to see the entire collection without feeling rushed or overwhelmed, you will need more than one day.
–Don't miss the gift shop! Especially if you are a lover of art books — there is a fantastic collection to peruse.

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When An Edmonton Art Gallery Turns Into A Lake: One of The Most Incredible Art Exhibits I've Ever Seen!

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


When the Peter Robertson Gallery described Canadian artist Steve Driscoll's show, And a Dark Wind Blows, to me as "a water installation that would reflect his paintings" and an unusual art exhibit, I wasn't sure what to expect. Maybe a few oversized tubs of water placed under the works? 

What I didn't expect was what I saw when I went to the preview — the entire gallery had been turned into a lake. 

Specifically, the floor of the gallery, and a few inches up the wall, had been lined with a heavy plastic that was then filled with water and dyed black. On top of this water, a wooden walkway, a dock, and huge rocks were placed to give viewers a way to enter, and walk through, the space. The walkway and dock were built so that they move slightly as you walk over them, causing ripples. The art, reflecting in the ripples, seems to move along the surface of the water. 

Visitors to the gallery must walk along a wooden walkway that leads to a dock

The works were all inspired by the night sky, and the show cumulated in a stunning three panelled painting of the aurora borealis, or northern lights (image below). Though the paintings are hung on the wall like they would be in any show, the viewer can not actually get close to the pieces in the same way that you could in a more typical space. Instead, you must stay on the walkway that guides you from work to work at a distance.

These Are Truly the Last Days by Steve Driscoll 




Spotlight On Swedish Artist Kent Lindfors

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


I was transfixed by the complex, layered, collage-like work by contemporary Swedish artist Kent Lindfors when I came upon it in a light-filled gallery at the Gothenburg Museum of Art in Sweden. The collection on display was a retrospective of the artist's work from the 1970s until 2016. Kent Lindfors was born and works in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden.

According to the gallery, "his paintings resemble parts of an ongoing life-project, a never-ending journey in which the outflow of the river Göta Älv in the western sea blends together with Santiago de Compostela, and the sheds in Gothenburg harbour cross over into Catholic mysticism."

From afar, each works looks like it contains a singular image — from something as mundane as a rail car to a more complex religious motif — but the image is actually made up of words, smaller images, and layer upon layer of paint and collage. He spends years on each piece, reworking it, adding to it. His works are never really complete, but always a work-in-progress. 

The result is stunning. I could have stood in front of each piece for hours and still have not absorbed every detail, every nuance. 

Image Above: La Fuente, 2001-2013; The Well, 2000-2016; La Fuente II 2000-2016
Image Below: A massive wall collage showing a breakdown of the artist's process

The paintings were accompanied by snippets of the artist's writing. The excerpt above was my favourite. It's amazing how just a few lines of poetry can set a mode or evoke a vibrant image in your mind.

While no photograph can show the all of the intense detail that is in these works, you can see some elements in the image above titled The Wagon V, 1978-1979. 

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The Work of Damian and Ron Moppett: The Artist Studio as Art Itself

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


Yard, 1978 by Ron Moppett (sculpture)
The Feinem Building, Matza Memorial Monument and the Venezky Building with Parkade, 1977; The Babich Arena with Ehrlich Ampitheater and Parking Complex, 1997; 12th and Dragomahn St., 1997; Century City, 1997; Century City (Second Configuration), 1997; The Hendrick Kubel Monument, The McKevitt Observatory, The National Trust Town and St. Mary's Church with Expansion Wing, 1997 by Damian Moppett (photographs)

For the first time Canadian artists Ron and Damian Moppett (father and son) are exhibiting selections from their vast collection of work together at the Art Gallery of Alberta. This unique show explores the similarity in their artistic practices and the different approaches that they use to interpret the subject of the artists's studio. 

Both are studio artists which, according to Ron, means that their job is to go to the studio every day and paint (or create). Both men are devoted to their craft. 

According to the artists, this grouping was their favourite of the exhibition.
Painting Nature with a Mirror, 1985 by Ron Moppett (left)
Match, 1986 by Ron Moppett (sculpture)
The Bells, 2010 by Damian Moppett (right)

The selected works for the exhibit Damian Moppett + Ron Moppett (Every Story Has Two Sides) are pulled from no specific time period, but were chosen by how they work together when displayed side by side.

You will see pieces by Ron stretching back to the 70s and Damian's oldest pieces are from the 90s. 

The Love Letter, 2014 by Ron Moppett

Ron was born in England in 1945, moved to Canada in 1957, and has had an incredible career to date which has involved solo and group exhibitions around the world. His paintings blur realism with abstraction and he uses stencilling, cut outs and layering to create his stunning, large scale works. 

Two Plaster Sculptures in Studio with Chairs, 2007 by Damian Moppett

Damian was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1969 and works in all forms of media, including photography, sculpture, painting, video, and drawing. His pieces explore the idea of what art is and the process of making it. The artist studio, and the materials within it are represented in most of his pieces as works of art themselves.  

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Why You Need To Visit The Gothenburg Museum of Art In Sweden

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


I recently paid a visit to The Gothenburg Museum of Art (aka Göteborgs Konstmuseum) in Sweden and was blown away by the incredible collection housed in this Swedish art gallery. The space contains an eclectic mix of historic works, Scandinavian art, contemporary sculptures, paintings by famous western artists, new work, and more.

The gallery spaces themselves are as unique as the work that they contain, making you feel like you are moving between buildings rather than just between floors.

The transition spaces between the galleries are also utilized in unique ways. Hallways are filled with collages of portraits (above), stairwells contain unique installations (first image below), and alcoves are the home of both historic and contemporary sculptures (second image below). 

Archive, 2014 by Michael Johansson

Double Blind, 2009/2014 by Charlotte Gyllenhammar

I was lucky enough to visit the museum during a weekday which meant that I was alone in most of the galleries. The sculpture gallery (below) was an especially impressive sight to behold. Turning the corner from the stairwell, you are faced with a vast room with a checkerboard floor that is filled with unique, large-scale pieces.

I was also surprised to see some incredible pieces by famous artists like Picasso, Munch, and Degas, as well as works that I had never seen before painted with a stunning use of light in the Scandinavian tradition. 

Youth from Gosol, 1906 by Pablo Picasso
Picasso's early work is my favourite. Most of these pieces are largely unknown, but the unfinished quality gives insight into the artist's process that I find fascinating and beautiful. 

Nordic Summer Evening, 1899-1900 by Richard Bergh

One of the best parts about the museum?

It's free to visit!

If you want to see the special, seasonal exhibition, there is a small charge, but you can see the majority of the collection without spending a single krona.