Deutsche Guggenheim : Visions of Modernity

15 years ago, in November ’97, the Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest bank and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation formed a partnership and opened up one of Berlin’s most interesting exhibitions rooms: The Deutsche Guggenheim.

Situated Unter den Linden, halfway between the Brandenburg Gate and the museum’s island, the Deutsche Guggenheim presented modern and contemporary art, often comissioned works, tapping into the resources of the Guggenheim foundation as well as into those of the art collection of the Deutsche Bank.

If you would like to know what you have already missed check out their archive. Image

All good things must come to an end though: This year the Guggenheim foundation anounced that they will not continue the cooperation with Deutsche Bank.

But as a farewell present the foundation decided to send some of the most important pieces of art from their broad collection to Berlin to form a special last exhibiton:

Visions of Modernity: Impressionist and Modern Collections from the Guggenheim  FoundationImage

The exhibition opened up two weeks ago and this week I finally made it there myself.

Even though there hadn’t been a big ad campaign to my big surprise quite a long queue already stood outside the building when I arrived. The reason for it was simple though:

Every monday entrance is free! The call it „I like Mondays!“

The problem for me was that I only had about an hour to visit the exhibition, after that I had to go to university. But since I knew that the space was rather small and I wanted to get at least an overview I decided to join the queue anyhow.

35 minutes later I made it into the quite crowded exhibition.Image

As the name suggest ‘Visions of Modernity’ starts with those artists that first broke with the Imagetraditional rules of academic paintings to visualize their own ideas: the french Impressionists.

There are paintings of Cézanne, Monet, Seurat and van Gogh as well as sculptures from Degas.

What makes the exhibition really great are the interconnections between the different periods and styles. Not only do you get to the differences among the impressionist themselves but also how they influenced the generation of artists after them.

Inspired by Cézanne’s geometrized compositions, Pablo Picasso experimented with reduced forms of expression, breaking up pictures during his cubistic period.

The exhibition quickly moves on to one of Picasso’s contemporaries, Modigliani and one of his Nudes, that at the time were still enough to cause a scandal.Image

Since Paris back then was the center of the arts world there are a lot of artists shown, that were from France or at least worked there.

Those that did not live there were often still inspired by the art they saw there during their vists.

A good example is the German Franz Marc, member of the expressionist group ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ who opened up to expressive styles after a visit to the french capital.

His picture ‘Stables’ is my personal favourite of the exhibition.Image

He still paints at least partly representational, but his horses are broken up with geometrical forms just like Picasso did. But in contrast to Picasso’s often very dark cubist paintings, where he uses a lot of grey and brown, Marc’s paintings show bright colors which are one of his trademarks.

Unfortunately the very gifted artists volunteered as a soldier at the beginning of the 1st World War and died in 1916 on the front lines.

ImageFrom here on the paintings get more and more abstract, be it Kandinsky, Miró or Delaunay, the abstract figure ‘Little French Girl’ from Brancusi drawing most attention from the center of the room.

But since my time was unfortunately very limited I couldn’t give that part of the exhibition my full attention but it spans until the late 30’s and the early 40’s.

Visions of Modernity not only gives a great overview in the development of western art from the end of 19th to the first decades of the 20th century, it also shows you how the Guggenheim collection itself became what it is right now: One of the worlds most important collections of modern art.

If you want to see key works from this collection without having to travel to New York make sure you’ll pay the Deutsche Guggenheim a visit, the exhibition is still open until the 17th of February next year.

If you want to save money, go on Monday, if you don’t want to stand in line and have a little more space for yourself in the exhibition go on any other day and pay the 4,-€ entrance fee.

More informations, also about guided tours and special events, can be found on

Btw: Even though the Guggenheim moves away from Berlin, the Deutsche Bank stays and will continue to exhibit contemporary art under the name ‘Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle’ in April 2013.


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