Friday, April 10, 2009


Okay. It wouldn't be a complete dianefeissel post if I didn't air a gripe, so let's just start with that and get it out of the way, shall we? Good. Here goes:

TTA SUCKS. Good Lord, do they suck. The last straw? It came today, in the form of this: NO BUSES ON GOOD FRIDAY. ??????? Since when is Good Friday a no-bus day? Sigh.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming: ARTTALK! Before I got distracted by and enchanted with Raleigh's First Friday, I had meant to post info on my visit to Seattle's Frye Museum, which was wee yet lovely. The particular exhibition which wooed me thither was entitled The Munich Secession and America, which highlighted work both from the Museum's permanent collection and from museums in Germany. I would like to share with you some images from the show (with all due respect and credits and props and such to the museums which own the works)... sadly, some of my favorites - of COURSE - are not find-able online, nor anywhere, it would seem. I'm still debating on whether I want the catalogue, as it seems to be the only place to locate some of these images. Grr.

Some of the work, though - especially that of Frank von Stuck - was already familiar to me, as I spent 4 months in Munich as an au pair back in 1996 (i.e., in the last century, last millennium, even. I know, I'm OLD). During that time I made it to the Villa Stuck (conveniently located in the same neighborhood as the home of the family for whom I was working) as well as the Lenbachhaus, a museum based around the work and art collection of 19th/20th century painter Franz von Lenbach. The Villa Stuck is the elaborately decorated home of artist and Munich Secession leader Franz von Stuck, whose most famous work may be the following:

Die Sünde (Sin), Franz von Stuck, 1893. He made the frame, too.

... the Lenbachhaus, despite having plenty of work by Franz von Lenbach himself and his contemporaries, is possibly best-known for its collection of paintings by a later group of Munich-based artists known as the "Blue Rider" (or "Der Blaue Reiter", if you're down with the German). The most famous of these artists – at least in the States, I would imagine – is probably Wassily Kandinsky. If you know me well, you will likely know that Kandinsky is not particularly my cup of tea. So, back in 1996, I actually had gone to the Lenbachhaus in search of works by Lenbach's contemporaries, including the circle of Wilhelm Leibl and Carl Schuch and such... alas, at the time that I went, the particular room ordinarily housing their works was under repair. Scheiße!

In questioning the elderly museum guard nearby regarding this situation I managed to get myself entangled in a peculiar yet oddly moving quasi-relationship with said guard throughout the remainder of my visit through the museum. I was never able to fully determine the exact nature of his peculiar attachment to me – our interaction was entirely in German and therefore some of what he was saying was lost to me – however, I did gather from things he said that in his distant past he had a great love for the U.S. and some prior close connection with an American... my gut tells me it was a onetime Ladyfriend, and that I unwittingly tapped into some great lost joy (and sorrow?) of this man's life. In any event, what this meant for me was that every once in a while he would catch up to wherever I was in my meanderings throughout the museum's galleries and he would initiate some manner of chat about the art in the museum. It was actually really very cute and refreshing, the enthusiasm this guard had for the art which he guarded all day long. In particular I remember his fascination with the following painting by Blaue Reiter painter Gabriele Münter:

Whoops, I'm not sure about the title or date, I just know it was done by Gabriele Münter sometime in the early 20th century...

Herr Guard was awestruck by how the subject's face could be "painted completely green, but it just works." Again, the Blue Rider crowd is generally not 100% my taste, but I had to agree with him... it is pretty cool to think about, the manipulation of pigment and paint to interact and play with the eye's capacity to perceive. Painting? It's a glorious thing.

Anyway, at the end of that visit to the Lenbachhaus back in 1996, I was snooping around in the gift shop when I caught sight of my security guard, this time in a group of his colleagues. When he saw me, he waved enthusiastically, and then... began to weep. It was sad, and ever so slightly disturbing. Again: not sure if he was just extremely emotional about something, or perhaps a tad crazy. I'll never know.

In summation: the show in Seattle at the Frye was equally moving, yet with fewer tears.
For more info on the Frye exhibition and to answer the question "what the heck is the Munich Secession, anyway?" see the museum’s website at the following link: