Two days in Frankfurt
November 5 and 6 I went to Frankfurt for a business meeting and lots of art.
The business meeting went well, and it included lunch (we went to Margarete), a German - Middle Eastern fusion restaurant, where I finally got to taste the famous local specialty Green Sauce.
My hotel was located near the Central Station. Very convenient for transportation to and from the airport, and close to my meeting location. But that's also one of the seediest parts of town (albeit rapidly being gentrified). Although prostitution is legal in Germany, so there's no need for “Red Light Districts” or “Tolerance Zones”, this area would qualify as one. And that allowed me to make a quick observation: there was a lot more people walking those streets in search of a sexual transaction, than visitors in all of the museums combined, in search of intellectual stimulation. Not judging (I support the legalization of prostitution), but merely observing investment priorities but the general population, and how the advancement of a rational society must pass through a level of education and culture that is not where it should be.
The meeting was important enough that I allowed an extra day “just in case”, but it was not necessary as we covered everything in the first day , so I spent that extra day doing one of my favorite things: art, art, art.
Schirn Kunsthalle One of the most respected exhibition spaces in Europe, it focuses on both contemporary and modern art. It has held individual exhibitions for Munch, Courbet, Ono, Aitken… Now they are exhibiting two exhibitions, but I was only interested in one: Wilderness. Small, but very interesting.
Frankfurter Kunstverein An art association with an impressive contemporary art program. I loved ALL the pieces they have on display now. Especially the pieces by Hicham Berrada.
Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK 1) One of the world's most important museums of contemporary art. While the permanent collection has works by Beuys, Lichtenstein, Richter, Warhol, etc, I was there mainly to see a Candy Noland retrospective. Noland's work is not that appealing at first sight, to the uninitiated. But it's not inaccessible either. Spend a couple of minutes looking at it, and the themes and messages become obvious and self-evident. She mainly describes violence in and through everyday objects and structures. In her essay “Towards a Metalanguage of Evil” (1987) she describes US society with both detachment and a clairvoyancy that, not surprisingly, perfectly captures almost the whole world three decades later. I've always said it: if you want to see the future, read poetry, look at visual art, and learn about basic science research. If you want to know the present, understand technology. If you want to hear the past, pay attention to politicians.
Zollamt (MMK3) Directly across the street from MKK1, it used to be the city's customs office. The whole space is dedicated, until January 2019, to the haunting 73 minutes video installation (5-channel HD video) “Blood in Milk”, by British artist Marianna Simnett. Shocking, powerful, clever, very well produced, directed, acted, and edited, it touches on issues such as identity, feminism, transgression, anthropocentrism, abuse, fear… I can not recommend it enough (although it's not for everyone).
Portikus Part of the Städelschule art academy, the exhibition (installation) was completely forgettable, but the building and location are quite interesting. As a matter of fact, it has a light installation by Olafur Eliasson in the roof which, every evening after sundown, reflects off the Main.
Museum Angewandte Kunst Housed in an impressive modernist building, the museum holds temporary exhibitions. This time I saw, amongst others: “Lara protects me: A Georgian Story”. Curated by Mahret Kupka. Based on a found anonymous letter, the title is an excuse for a group exhibition sampling some of the art being produced in Tbilisi (“the new Berlin”, they say). “Birth Place Yokohama”, a private collection of Asian artifacts. “Richard Meier”, a survey of the work of one of the greatest industrial designers of all time (working for Braun). I love his style (and you can see his influence everywhere, from Apple to apps). “Pinkus silver restitution”, which documents how the museum stole a silver collection from the Jewish family Pinker, after the Nazi regime had fallen, by declaring it “lost in a bomb raid”, while it was there all along. The story is fascinating, and while justice was finally served, it represents the struggle between good (ethical) and bad (corrupt) people and institutions, which are, after all, and let's not forget, people.
Städel Museum It's Germany's oldest museum foundation (1815). It holds art from the XIV century to the Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-Classicism in the second floor: Mantegna, Botticelli, Dürer, Rembrandt, Vermeer… Modern Art is on display on the first floor: Manet, Renoir, Monet, Picasso, Beckmann…. But definitely the 2012 extension for contemporary art, in a spectacular basement, has turned it into one of the most interesting contemporary art spaces, with works by Bacon, Baselitz, Richter, Judd, Klein, Sherman, and many others.
After that whirlwind of art, I had dinner at Pho Ngon, che for desert, and went to sleep, exhausted but with my intelectual batteries charged. One final observation I made at a pedestrian traffic light: it may sound cliché and a gross generalization, but it's true that Germans are quite binary and rigid. From directional signaling, to pedestrian traffic lights that go from green to red without yellow or blinking, these people prefer a clear “yes/no” than a nuanced and subjective “perhaps/maybe”. A direct result of that is their paralysis when things do not go according to plan. At the train station, the train to Koblenz and the Airport was announced on track 3, then it was changed to track 21, and everybody run to track 21. But when the announcer contradicted the information on the screens and said it was track 3, everybody stopped, looking around, lost. I went to track 21, checked out the train, asked the conductor, and boarded (and waited for the 15 minute delay). A few minutes later, the locals (who should have figured it out way quicker with their native German, which I barely understand) arrived at the train, still looking confused. Because that stuff only happens “in the South”, doesn't it? LOL.
NOTE about photographs: Flickr, where I used to host my public pictures, has announced changes in their terms and conditions, which I can not accept. Therefore, old galleries will disappear from my posts. I am going to start experimenting with different methods and sites to maintain the functionality. Let's try with Google Photos and PublicAlbum.org: