Anish Kapoor, Green Shadow 2011
With a press invite to the Städel Museum – one of the oldest and most renowned museums in Germany, I decided to leave the small ‘healing’ town of Bad Ems Germany and jumped on the train to Frankfurt changing at Koblenz. My experience of German spas, whilst certainly interesting – I found to be more traumatising than relaxing:
“She is wearing her swimming costume! GET IT OFF!! GET IT OFF.. ” a hundred naked old people are stomping towards me.. the sauna is hot and the chants are getting stronger.. louder. I wake up. Time to make like a tree…..
The museum holds almost a complete overview of 700 years of European art history. And I assumed that I would find the contemporary section more appealing (none of that old boring history stuff). However, I found myself completely and totally absorbed in the Old Masters section. Perhaps it’s the stage of life that I’m in right now – but as I read about the ‘Ideal to Individuality’ stages of art I realized. Most artists of their time are under the illusion that whatever they do is revolutionary. Which quite rightly it could be! And actually competitiveness is nothing new. Artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo competed against each other to attain perfection and ‘ideal beauty’ in their work… always trying to surpass each other. And that was teh 15th Century.
As I headed from from the Old Masters down to the Contemporary section, I found myself wondering whether over the decades we might have lost something along the way. I wonder what the Michelangelo’s over the centuries might think of the current state of the art world. The increasing popularity of Banksy, X Factor, Tracy Emin, Vice Magazine, JLS….
This is a picture of Narcissus at the Fountain, 1510. A man who fell in love with his unattainable image in the water and died of grief. The tale is where we derived the word Narcissist – excessive self love.
And so I left the museum. Perhaps a little more at ease. Comforted by the fact that revolutions, disease, disaster, pain, anger, love, control, happiness, temptation. Well. Its nothing new. And the world has survived. I suppose I’m just a little bit unsure as to where we’re at. I wonder. What will our era be defined as?
A really thought provoking museum with an excellent delivery of art – unassuming of one’s artistic background – I definitely recommend visiting the Städel, Frankurt.