Stolperstein; a growing memorial

One of the little things that captured my attention when travelling—stolperstein.

A stolperstein or stumbling stone, is a concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination. The stolperstein art project was initiated by the German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, and is still ongoing. It aims at commemorating individual persons at exactly the last place of residency—or, sometimes, work—which was freely chosen by the person before he or she fell victim to Nazi terror, euthanasia, eugenics, was deported to a concentration or extermination camp, or escaped persecution by emigration or suicide. As of 11 January 2015, over 50,000 plates have been laid in 18 European countries, making the stolperstein project the world’s largest decentralised memorial.

Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolperstein

st01Siesmayerstraße, Frankfurt.

st02Bahnhofstraße, Wiesbaden.

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Caravaggio’s Heirs – Baroque in Naples

I took the chance to visit Caravaggio’s Heirs – Baroque in Naples that is on exhibit at Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden (capital of Hessen) on my 2nd last day in Frankfurt with Daiana and my sister-in-law, Najwa.

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The exhibition is from 14 October 2016 until 12 February 2017. If you are somewhere in the Hessen, do visit the exhibition. From Frankfurt, it is about 40 minutes train ride to Wiesbaden. Fare is €16. Museum ticket fee is €10.

Caravaggio’s Heirs – Baroque in Naples brings flourishing Golden Age of Italian paintings that began in 1606 with the arrival of Caravaggio in Naples. During the next decade, Caravaggio became a much-admired model for generations of Neopolitan Baroque artists such as Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, Artemisia Gentileschi, Jusepe de Ribera, Salvator Rosa, Mattia Preti, Luca Giordano and Francesco Solimena.

Presenting more than 200 works by some 50 artists from as many lenders in eleven countries, the exhibition traces the development of Neapolitan Baroque painting.

Who is Caravaggio?

Michelangelo Merisi (Michael Angelo Merigi or Amerighi) da Caravaggio (29 September 1571 – 18 July 1610) was active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily. His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting (reminds me of Rembrandt), had a formative influence on Baroque painting.

Caravaggio was contracted for many works, including the work in the Contarelli Chapel, which was in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Following this commission, he was later given several contracts to do work throughout several chapels in Rome, as well as in neighbouring cities. For the most part, these new paintings, and each new job he took, helped to increase the fame which he was experiencing during the time.

However, there were a few of his pieces that were rejected because of the dramatic intensity, which people viewed as vulgar. Some of his well-known for during this period include The Madonna of the Grooms, and the Death of the Virgin.

Judith and Holofernes

Two paintings from the Caravagesques that are most intriguing to me were Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi and Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio. Caravaggio’s painting, was the main inspiration of Artemisia’s. Both have the same Holofernes, but different interpretation of Judith, and different accomplice. The lighting differs too; I imagine that Artemisia’s lighting effect came from a lamp, while Caravaggio’s from the day light that went through a window. Different feeling.

Anyway, Caravaggio’s Judith reminds me of Boticelli’s Simonetta. That nose. That face.

judith-und-holofernesJudith Slaying Holofernes (1614–20). Oil on canvas. By Artemisia Gentileschi.

judith-beheading-holofernesJudith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio. Created: circa 1598-1599.

Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi painted many pictures of strong and suffering women from myth and the Bible – victims, suicides, warriors. Artemisia was raped by a painter that her father hired to tutor her. The trauma of the rape and trial impacted on Artemisia’s painting. Her graphic depictions were cathartic and symbolic attempts to deal with her pain. Her style was heavily influenced by Caravaggio.

Here are some photos from the exhibition:

riberaImmaculate Conception, Jusepe de Ribera. My most favourite piece of Caravagesques.

beinaschiDiogenes by Giovanni Battista Benaschi (1636–1688). I was attracted by the metal frame first, painting then. Two perfect masterpieces.

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A walk to remember at Bethmann Park

fuchsia

They wiggled and giggled, and seemed as if they danced with the autumn wind that blew upon them. In my imagination, I heard them say, “come dance with us!”

I stopped and gazed, and thought, “what a beautiful spray of fuchsias.”

This was one of the scenes I remember so well as if I visited the park yesterday despite the fact that it had been more than a month. The pale-pink fuchsias must’ve been withered by now against the mossy bricks of Bethmann Park, just like the fate of their cousins, the fandango-pink fuchsias.

fuchsia2

It was truly a revivifying visit. Surrounded by flowers, plants and trees, I feel like I was a part of the nature; if I had not been a human, I’d be a magical walking tree with two legs wearing black boots. While imagining that, serendipity knocked, as I walked by pass a clump of grass. I had put a spell on the grass and painted it black!

boots

OK, I got carried away in my imagination. It was my first time seeing Black Mondo grass. Jakun sikit. Black Mondo grass is not the typical kind of grass. It is a member of the lily family and are closely related to the notorious lily of the valley. It has bell-shaped pink flowers with white overtones rising above the foliage from mid to late summer. It’s attractive grassy leaves remain black in colour throughout the season. It produces black berries from early to mid fall.

As I walked further in the park, immersing my thoughts with nature, I came across other beauties, as if I entered Claude Monet’s garden, with reference to The Artist’s Garden At Giverny, c.1900.

purpleflowers

My imagination ran wild and later I was in Alice’s Wonderland where a gigantic chessboard lay not far from the Monet’s garden.

chess

No Red Queen here, unfortunately.

Back to reality. Here are some more photos from the park. I’m not going to post typical shots of flowers though, there’s too many on the Internet.

orange-leaves

woman

dahlia

seed

trees

Napoleon once strolled under the green leaves here at Bethmann Park, not to mention many royals and leaders visiting Frankfurt. The park was once owned by the Bethmann family. It was bought by the city in 1941 and some twelve years later, a public garden was created.

Hidden behind walls in the middle of Bornheim, an area filled with small cafes, neighbourhood shops and restaurants, this small idyllic refuge is calling visitors to take a quiet break from the noise and clamour of the city.

The Bethmann park is certainly worth a visit as it is one of the off-the-beaten paths in Frankfurt. The easiest way to reach the park is by underground, it is just a short walk along Berger Straße from the Merianplatz Station on the U4 line.

Bethmann Park,
Friedberger Landstraße/Berger Straße,
Frankfurt am Main (Bornheim/Ostend).

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Tales from the Graveyard

When I told Daiana I wanted to visit art places, one of the places she suggested was the Frankfurt Main Cemetery at Eckenheimer Landstrasse 194.

“I been there few times and fell in love with the arts, furthermore, I want to find the grave of Arthur Schopenhauer. I had not been able to find it on my previous visits because the cemetery is very large,” she added.  Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher, often called the “philosopher of pessimism,” whose writings influenced later existential philosophy and Freudian psychology.

I agreed right away because it would be great to see the philosopher’s grave not to mention the artistic side of the cemetery.

I find the cemetery very fascinating because of the beauty of memorial art, the various styles and designs, the skills and craftsmanship sculpting a material as hard as granite. Many memorials are truly works of art and what added to the beauty is mother nature itself.

angel

rose

inliebefurmama

hand

hand

littleangel

angel

1800

daiana

The Frankfurt Main Cemetery (German: Hauptfriedhof) is the largest cemetery in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It was opened in 1828. The cemetery is located directly adjacent to two Jewish cemeteries, the Old Jewish Cemetery (opened together with the Main Cemetery in 1828) and the New Jewish Cemetery (opened in 1928), and together they constitute one of the largest cemetery areas in Germany.

The New Jewish Cemetery is the burial ground for many historical Jewish figures as well as other citizens of Frankfurt in the 19th and 20th centuries. The well maintained grounds give this cemetery a pleasant park-like appearance. A sobering Holocaust memorial stands near the entrance to the cemetery. Some individual gravestones and cenotaphs note that individuals were murdered at Nazi death camps. Many Frankfurt Jews who committed suicide rather than be deported to death camps are buried in a separate section.

After walking long in the cemetery, we found Schopenhauer’s grave.

schopenhauerEach day is a little life; every waking and rising a little birth; every fresh morning a little youth; every going to rest and sleep a little death. – Arthur Schopenhauer (Born: February 22, 1788, Poland
Died: September 21, 1860, Frankfurt).

I end this post with a little haiku (accompany by my photo) that I wrote inspired by this visit:

Tales from the Graveyard (Hauptfriedhof)
Beyond buried souls
etched marbles and bronze sculptures
Ivy thrives on tombs.

tomb01

 

Reference:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt_Main_Cemetery
http://www.hauptfriedhof-frankfurt.de/

 

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Finding Simonetta at The Städel

The last time I tried to ‘meet’ Simonetta was at Uffizi Museum in Florence last year, but I scrapped the idea because the queue was too long. When I learned that queuing for the ticket is one thing, queuing to get inside is another, I knew I wasn’t meant to meet her. I should’ve bought the ticket online but I was not sure of the date to visit.

You see, I wanted to see her in some of Botticelli’s original paintings, that includes The Birth of Venus and La Primavera (also known as Allegory of Spring). She was thought to be his muse.

VenusThe Birth of Venus.

primaveraLa Primavera.

In The Birth of Venus, Venus is the central figure standing on a shell blown ashore by the wind gods Zephyrus and Aura. The scene makes reference to the birth of the goddess as told in Hesiod and Homer.

In La Primavera, Venus is seen again, well-dressed, in a scene that draws inspiration from Ovid’s tale of the arrival of spring. Venus seems to capture our attention with her gaze.

Whose lovely face inspired this image of Venus? Could they have been inspired by real women? Or by the same woman?

Many said that the Venus character was based on a model named Simonetta, who was 16 and married. She modelled not only for Botticelli’s paintings but for other well-known painters as well (Piero di Cosimo was one).

Then, rumour has it that Botticelli fell in love with Simonetta, but he kept it to himself. He celebrated his love for her by painting her many times over on most of his paintings.

simonettasSome of Botticelli’s renditions of Simonetta.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simonetta_Vespucci

He continued to paint her even after she died at the age of 22. The Birth of Venus was actually completed nine years after her death. That seems to confirm that Botticelli was in love with her and that he was still able to still capture her beauty even by painting her from memory.

Anyway, when I learned that Botticelli’s paintings, including Idealised Portrait of A Lady (Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci As Nymph, ca. 1475), were on display at Städel Museum as Highlight Collection, I was excited.

I visited Städel Museum with my friend, Daiana, on the very first day I reached Frankfurt.

simonetta_frankfurtSource: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_of_a_Young_Woman_(Botticelli,_Frankfurt)

Seeing Simonetta up-close on canvas was too personal. I was able to admire her beauty, Botticelli’s stroke and the legends that evolved around her. My mind wandered through all the stories that I read about her and Botticelli. I like to believe that the love story between them was real just like how the painting itself looks real.

Finding Simonetta at the Städel was one of the best things that happened to me. I wont be concluding the ‘meeting’ with her as I have yet to find her (in future travels) in other galleries around the world.

Till we meet again, Simonetta.

About Städel Museum
Städel Museum houses the world’s most important art collection. It encompass 3,000 paintings, 600 sculptures, more than 10,000 drawings and prints and 1,600 photographs. The collections are divided into few categories; Old Master Painting 1300 – 1800, Modern Art 1800 – 1945, Contemporary 1945 – The Present and Department of Prints And Drawings.

The Old Master Painting collection presents original paintings by Jan van Eyck, Lochner, Mantegna, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Poussin, Dürer and many more. This collection is my favourite as I really admire the old master painters.

As for the Modern Art collection, it presents paintings by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Marc, Kirchner, Beckmann and many more from the era of Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism and Expressionism.

STÄDEL MUSEUM
Schaumainkai 63
60596 Frankfurt am Main
+49(0)69-605098-0
http://www.staedelmuseum.de/en/
info@staedelmuseum.de

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