Three giants of all life ages carrying the world designed 1895 in the then requested style of Historicism by Prussian sculptor Ernst Wenck who later went on to become a member of the Berlin Secession.
On the sides flanked by allegories of transportation and science having each their companion pointing to the emblem in the middle depicting the imperial eagle, making clear who enables them to strive. Originally the emblem was also headed by a crown which got removed after the war leaving an odd empty space in front of the giants’ pedestal.
The striking 6 meter bronze sculpture captured me on a stroll through Berlin after a visit of the Jewish Museum. It tops the entry of the Museum for Communicationformerly named Reichspostmuseum. Built as the oldest of its kind as an add-on to the general post office to express the Prussian need to highlight their patronage of postal infra structure.
Ernst M. Hake, the other Prussian master architect for post office buildings after Carl Schwatlo was chosen to draft the building and construction took from 1893 to 1898 until the whole thing got finished. Between world wars the museum was closed down and when in 1944 heavy damage through bombs occurred, it seemed that doors would never open again. Curiously the bronze sculpture only disappeared in the 60s. I couldn’t quite track down why. There is only to guess that maybe Communist government of DDR did so in an attempt of political iconoclasm and as an persisting aftermath of being ashamed of 19th century monumental show-off architecture despite reinstating a heavy-handed visual language themselves. Apparently after a short craze at the end of the 19th century where strong men with globes on their shoulders became a sight on every major building people wearied very soon and got rid of the globes. Only few remain in existence till today.
Therefore the current giants are one to one replicas of the Historicist original. It took famous sculptor Achim Kühn 5 years to recreate the massive figurehead using a still existing smaller model as a guide. In 1997 eventually the finished sculpture was ready to be hauled on top of a restored “Postmuseum”.
This is my great-grandfather Hessan and it is the only image I think ever existed of him. I just recently came to view it when my mother sent the picture on my phone. Probably she saw the photograph also for the first time. Who knows where she discovered it after all these years. Continue reading →
This is the Hotel Zum Roten Bären in Freiburg. It is supposedly the oldest inn of Germany. After suffering damages through WWII the hotel got renewed. In the 50s the exterior was painted in a historic style depicting rhomb shapes and coat of arms from former inn keepers. For the paint mineral colors were used which will stay vivid with just minor upkeep.
At Christmas I got to visit the beautiful city of Freiburg. It is located right at the Black Forrest and holds a lot of nicely restored historic buildings. The streets in the city center are still structured in Continue reading →
On sunday the exhibition Death Becomes Her, a century of mourning attire at MET Museum’s Costume Institute closed its gates.
It had a great line up of frocks and dresses showcasing various states of mourning. It was much more complicated back then. Which added to the difficulties for the mourner as to maintain etiquette a certain wealth was required. Black dyed fabric was not easily achieved in production and therefore expensive. And let’s not even talk about how expensive treatment of silk was in order to acquire the demanded texture.
The collection even showed gowns of Queen Victoria (she was a small creature. Very very small) and Queen Alexandra! I was amazed how well curated the exhibition was and in what great condition the gowns are. I mean, I could not detect one single flaw! Either there must be a hell of a conservator or up there in New York they just know how to preserve fabrics from the beginning like no one else. It was a life time wish for me to visit the Costume Institute but at first I was a little disappointed for there was not a more current exhibition. There is nothing comparable here in Germany concerning fashions. I had seen here and there a court dress or so being part of bigger exhibitions about Napoleon or the period of Louis XVI. and had hoped to see some iconic YSL or Mcqueen when I would finally be able to visit NYC. At closer look then I became glad though, because of the aforementioned great condition. If it happens that original clothing of by gone eras gets included in exhibitions here, they very often have a more raggedy appeal, the silks all lackluster and white frills already in hues of decaying yellow. I don’t blame anybody as fabric is really hard to maintain. Till today it is the case that during the life of the owner and after his death clothes are mostly not considered worthy of preservation.
My visit was a great experience and I examined each piece eagerly.
Especially the accessory and jewelry corner, curated by the iconic Iris Apfel and her husband Carl (a sweet article in German click here) was a delight. It’s a long time I am fascinated with Victorian era hair jewelry and this was my chance for a close look. Above a true piece of beauty and craftsmanship in gold and pearls.
Enjoy the pics dear readers as the chance to take a look by yourself won’t be possible for now. Or head over to the MET site for photographs in high res and further information including an interesting lecture about this subject held by assistant curator Jessica Regan in video. // All images by me unless otherwise stated and made with Iphone 5. Thanks goes to the MET Museum for that it is allowed to take pictures in this free manner.