Today's connection between art and politics focuses on several key ideas :
-reaction to conflict
-artists actively working to change society
-the role of governmment in the arts
The Käthe Kollwitz museum was a fantastic place to start as her work and life addressed many aspects of my research. I already was aware that much of her art dealt with the loss of a loved one, in her case, her son on the battlefields of WWI. I was not prepared for the power and depth of emotion these works conveyed in person.
I was also unaware of the activist nature of her work, as highlighted in many pieces, but especially in her "Nie Wieder Krieg" piece and images of hungry children. I found myself uplifted and drained at the same time by the raw power and quantity of her work, but was reminded of the importance that artist play in shaping the dialogue that defines a society.
I also learned that this activism can have repercussions as it did in Hitler's banning her work from being exhibited from 1937 until after the war, and her removal as Head of the Master's Atelier at the Academy of Art. Nazi forces were very aware of the power of images and worked very hard to control ones that were critical.
The Kulturforum was a very different experience with such a range of classical and 20th C masterpieces. In the Gemäldegalerie, works from the likes of Vermeer, Raphael, Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, and Brueghel were awe inspiring. While the New National Gallery featured an exhibition on artists and how their work evolved after WWII. It was perfect and introduced me to many German artists I was unfamiliar with. I plan on doing a whole separate post on that show at some point in the future. http://www.smb.museum/smb/sammlungen/details.php?lang=en&objID=20&n=1&r=19
Lastly, the Kulturforum, with it's many examples of modern architecture, was built in a location which had been completely destroyed after the war. Again, the role of government funding for the arts is brought into focus. It was concieved by the government as a counterpoint to the Museum Island and other cultural sites that were lost behind the Berlin Wall.
Choosing Berlin as our first stop has been a good decision as the convergence of art and politics is evident almost everywhere and throughout it's diverse history.