A Day At The Museum /A Tale Of Two Worlds Part 2/ Bunny Shepherd

You have reached  your destination Frankfurt MMK , The Frankfurt  Museum für Moderne Kunst  A Tale of Two Worlds a collaboration between the Frankfurt MMK and Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires showing a range art produced in Europe and the Americas between the 1940’s and 1980’s.  Throughout the exhibition there are also numerous works from the United States, which seems like an additional world to me, appearing  somewhat separate and detached from its southern counterpart.  A case of Mauer im Kopf ? a cultural and economic wall between  North and South America, the socio-politically divided continent, looking elsewhere, back to the old world of Europe each for differing reasons.  A simple assertion but perhaps with some truth. A  Europe coming to terms with the aftermath of two world wars, a conduit of virtual space for a modern world, offering  pockets of  empathy and cross fertilisation, evolving ideologies and  creative processes which can be shared and developed.  Elements of  this accumulation  can be found  in this exhibition where diverse works with their varying degrees of connectivity  sit or hang (out) together.

Tucked away in a darkened room and under glass is possibly where the beating heart of this exhibition resides.  Despite the expressionistic architecture this is not the Cabinet of Dr Calligary which  the murderous somnambulist Cesare  but rather the cabinet of  Marcel Duchamp , The Modern Art Super Hero.  An assemblage various of Duchampion works  downsized to the scale of a miniature art-world or gallery fit for any fortress of solitude .


Marcel Duchamp

Looking at the works on display such as Readymades  L.H.O.O.Q  and The Bride Stripped Bare you become aware of just how pivotal his role has been in influencing and shaping  so much of 20th century art.

DSC_0038Marcel Duchamp

Throughout the exhibition works by other art superheroes of the 20th century  appear; men of mythical status with the Midas touch, where everything they touch turns to Art.  Beuys, Bacon, Lichtenstein, Johns and Warhol each have their wares spread throughout the building, milestones along a meandering journey, markers of a particular kind route, known yet unseen in the flesh in the here and now. Each work recognisable and renowned enough to stop you in your tracks and consider the pitfalls of seeking  a modernist  El Dorado.  For me, the real adventure and treasures of this exhibition lie elsewhere, such as a room dedicated to Atre Madi, geometric abstraction in the raw.  This artistic group formed in Buenos Aires between  1944-46 and it is work by two of its founder members Carmelo Arden Quin and German born Martin Blaszko that stand out here.  Blasko left Europe for Argentina in 1939 where he studied under Quin, with whom he would later become became good friends. There are two paintings which caught my attention, mesmerising  with their angular disjointed frameworks that  sit so perfectly with the surrounding architecture of  Hans Hollein as if the building itself had been constructed around them.  Serendipity at its best.

Martin Blaszko

Frankfurt MMK       Architect / Hans Hollein

This is a big show with over 500 works by 100 or so artists, so a lot of information to take in on one visit. I could (and should) have spent more time just looking at graphic drawings  by Frankfurt resident Thomas Bayrle  and Argentinian born Marta Minujin as well as a series of  untitled works by Leon Ferrari.  The post war German romance with Americana and the Automobile is depicted by Bayrle in Call Me Jim  a phrase apparently coined by the director of the Volkswagen during  early negotiations with an American car company in the 1950s.  To be amid this maze of intersecting highways doesn’t look anything like fun fun fun on the Autobahn.

Marta Minujin                                                          Thomas Bayrle

Inside the the top layer of  the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art – a large blacked-out room with a dozen or so screens showing the work of one artist and deservedly so.  Ana Mendieta, (1948-1985)  the Cuban born  artist who moved to America aged 12. Prolific and multi-disciplinary combining land, body art and performance with film,  there much to see here and take in .  Her 1974 Body Tracks addresses the issue of gender violence using her whole body ,bloodied hands move slowly down a white screen, Ana moves off screen  leaving us to witness her mark making, a powerful piece in less than two minutes, her  body the subject and object of her work.  It seems timely that her work is being shown now, it is a testimony and tragedy that such work retains its power in the present .

DSC_0071Ana Mendieta

Words …Bunny Shepard



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