I have no affinity for works by Andy Warhol but I am really starting to like the guy. He came up with the – 15 minutes of fame meme. Today we learned that he would like it if people could just do his paintings for him. Thus his paint by number concept featured in Cologne’s Ludwig Museum. At this point Warhol doesn’t really fit the artist category to me, he just lucked out with a eclectic personality and a gift for the gab. Really, he convinced people that a pile of stacked cardboard boxes was art and worth Millions! I don’t know how to categorize him but in my free time there is going to be some web stalking about all things Warhol.
The rest of the museum was a 50/50. Half of the works were item the Nazis considered degenerate and tried to get rid of it. The museum now houses pieces considered “expressionism” that were parts of private collections. This is the first museum we have encountered where the displays gave information about the provenance of pieces that were stolen from Jewish owners or purchased in such a manner that they might as well have been stolen. The other half was plain modern art crazy. This is the first museum where viewing an art piece came with a warning sign. If you are allergic to bees it is strongly recommended you not approach piece #5 – “Reclining Nude” with Bee hive for a head.
Brent got roped into an “art” piece when we viewed a special exhibition. There was a greeter who asks your name and then shouts it out loud to everyone. It’s supposed to remove your anonymity and make you feel closer to the art. However, if you don’t speak German, like Brent, you keep asking “What?” instead of giving the art man your name. The rest of the exhibit featured items that the artist must have made up on the spot as a crazy train of thought, “ok…um…here, I want a big ice rink, but no ice, then I want an ice skater to skate on it, then I’m going to paint the floor and ..um… then I’m going to burn it. Yeah – that’s what I’m going to do in this room” And lot’s of home movies – this artist needs to know that his movies are pretty bad and that genre has been perfected already by others, we call it television.
The children all recognized the inspiration for this Louise Lawler picture from a statue in the Louvre.
Like every town in Europe, Cologne was built on Roman ruins. The Romano-Germanic museum is a huge collection of the stuff they have dug up over the years. The highlight is a huge mosaic floor that has survived in remarkable condition. The floor has been in the exact same place for about 2,000 years, the museum was built around it. Brody was even impresses – he marvels at how they can make eyes and facial features so realistic.
Our final tour of the day was through the NS Documentation Center. This was where the Socialist party held and executed people who were not on board with their agenda in the 30’s and 40’s. It was a lot like the Terror Haza in Budapest – except without English subtitles. We just wandered around looking at the photos. Curiously the basement cells did have the information translated in English. It is not clear why the gruesome part is available in English but the part where they explain how such a point was reached is not. One would think the cells are self explanatory while the policies and actions which led to that point are more complicated and deserve study.