The New National Gallery, designed by Mies van der Rohe, is an icon of modern architecture. Opened in 1968, it sent a clear signal of embracing the international, democratic, Western world in the divided city of Berlin. To this day, thanks to the transparent nature and openness of its upper hall, it exemplifies the way Germany has come to perceive itself.
After the National Gallery’s original collection was largely decimated by the Nazis and subsequently split up between East and West, the New National Gallery housed in the Mies van der Rohe building evolved into a modern museum of international stature once again. As can be seen in the large-scale sculptures installed on the building’s forecourt, the gallery forms a bond to the artistic developments and spirit of the age through a series of new acquisitions of high-quality works.
In all of this, however, little attention has been given until now to art from Africa. Africa itself still continues to be less associated with free art, transparency and democracy, and much more with corruption and war, with refugees, epidemics and drought.
Photo: Gerhard Murza
Contrary to such opinion however, the continent is not a vast tribal backwater. In its confident struggle for international recognition, 21st century Africa no longer allows itself to be overlooked.
Pascale Marthine Tayou’s work will occupy the large expanse of the New National Gallery’s forecourt and surrounding terraces. This annexation of public space heralds an unmistakable and effective engagement with the entire continent of Africa in Berlin.