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New Online Offers: From James Simon to Vanessa Beecroft, and from Hugo von Tschudi to Nevin Aladağ

Gipsformerei - Kunstmanufaktur seit 1819

In the next few days, new digital offers from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin collections will be available online. Four short films shed light on the life and influence of James Simon – a great patron to whom Berlin is indebted, and not just for Nefertiti. Ralph Gleis, head of the Alte Nationalgalerie, recalls Hugo von Tschudi, a former Nationalgalerie director, who recently became the hero of a novel. Installation artist Nevin Aladağ talks about the relationship between art and music in a Hamburger Bahnhof podcast. And the Helmut Newton Foundation at the Museum für Fotografie presents Vanessa Beecroft’s legendary photo series from the Neue Nationalgalerie as well as other highlights of performance photography in an interactive 360° tour.

James Simon and the Art of a Purposeful Life

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s James-Simon-Galerie ‒ a building that opened at a central location on the Museumsinsel Berlin (Museum Island) in July 2019 ‒ pays tribute to the great patron and Jewish cosmopolite James Simon (1851–1932). In addition to his commitment to social causes, Simon made gifts of priceless art treasures to the SMB museums, including the Bust of Nefertiti.

Supported by the James-Simon-Stiftung, historian Olaf Matthes and filmmaker Felix von Böhm portray Simon’s life in four short films (in German with English subtitles). They highlight his childhood in Eastern Pomerania, his charity work and his close relationship to Wilhelm von Bode (general director of the SMB art collections), as well as his founding of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft e.V. and its recovery of the Bust of Nefertiti. Narrated by actress Katharina Thalbach, animated photos and historical film materials bring Simon’s biography to life.

Tschudi for Everyone! A Story about the Nationalgalerie

Hugo von Tschudi (1851–1911) was not only one of the exceptional directors of the Nationalgalerie, he also became the titular protagonist of Mariam Kühsel-Hussaini’s novel Tschudi, recently published by Rowohlt Verlag. The book begins in December 1896 with the first exhibition of works by the Impressionists shown at the Nationalgalerie.

Shortly after he was appointed director, Tschudi travelled to Paris together with Max Liebermann, where Tschudi made a spectacular purchase for the Nationalgalerie: Édouard Manet’s Im Wintergarten (In the Conservatory). It was a bold acquisition, made at a point in time when only one of Manet’s works could be seen in a museum setting, even in France. This purchase helped Impressionism to become established nearly simultaneously at museums in Paris and Berlin.

Tschudi, an art visionary, acquired further works by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Paul Cezanne, who were still largely unknown at the time. He prominently installed the new acquisitions on the mezzanine level of the Nationalgalerie – where they can still be admired today. Ralph Gleis, head of the Alte Nationalgalerie, has read the book and reviews it on the blog of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (in German). Set amidst a period of upheaval at the turn of the century, the story tells of the trials and tribulations of a museum director who has made it his business to promote contemporary art.

ART4ALL Online Edition with Nevin Aladağ

The ART4ALL initiative, made possible by Volkswagen ‒ a longstanding partner of the Nationalgalerie ‒ offers free admission to Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin on the first Thursday of every month from 4 to 8 pm, as well as an interdisciplinary programme of lectures, performances and artist talks. ART4ALL takes place in the form of online podcasts while the museum is closed.

The next instalment in the series ‒ in which Turkish artist Nevin Aladağ talks about the relationship between art and music in her videos and sculptures ‒ is available as of Thursday, 7 May 2020. The starting point is her video work Voice Over (2006), which will be shown at Hamburger Bahnhof in the upcoming group exhibition Magical Soup. Media Art from the Nationalgalerie Collection, the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection and Loans.

The ART4ALL Online Edition premiered at the beginning of April with a podcast by painter Walter Dahn. It continues on Thursday, 4 June 2020 featuring a talk with Wolfgang Tilmans.

360° Tour through the Exhibition Body Performance

The Helmut Newton Foundation’s group exhibition Body Performance at the Museum für Fotografie (Museum of Photography) brings together for the first time photo sequences with origins in performance, dance and stage events, supplementing them with paraphrased street photography and conceptual photo series. In these works by Vanessa Beecroft, Jürgen Klauke, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Viviane Sassen, Cindy Sherman, Erwin Wurm, and others, the focus is always on humans and their bodies. Their photographers have documented or interpreted the various actions, and have also often initiated them.

Curator Matthias Harder leads an approximately 45-minute tour through the special exhibition in English in a 360° interactive space. The video can be individually controlled by trackpad, mouse or touchscreen, allowing the six exhibition halls to be explored in a panoramic view.

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Online Offers

For an overview of all the online offers of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin with links to databases, the blog, social media channels, and to a collaborative project with Google Arts & Culture, see:

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin uses the hashtags #SMBforHome and #ClosedButOpen for its most up-to-date-communications on social media.