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.

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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.

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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

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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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Museumsufer for art lovers

Prior to visiting Frankfurt, I made plans with Daiana Olteanu, a Romanian friend whom I met last year at Frankfurt BookFair, who is living in Frankfurt, to go for art discovery around Frankfurt.

I have two days free before the book fair and a day after the bookfair. So we planned well and try to cover as many art categories as we can.

From the hotel, we walked to Hauptwache, past Romer and then across the Main River to get to the other side of the river to an area called The Frankfurt museum embankment (Museumsufer). Alternatively we could take the tram or train but we preferred to walk to enjoy the nice chilly weather.

The embankment is one of the most important locations for museums in Germany and Europe. Through this unique cultural experience on both sides of the Main, the city enjoys an excellent reputation among art lovers.

There’s a total of 12 museums on the Schaumankai side, whereas about 22 museums on the other side of the Main River (some near the river, others located sporadically around Frankfurt city).

Frankfurt has more than 60 museums but there’s only 34 museums participating under Museumsufer:

  1. Altana Kulturstiftung im Sinclair-Haus, Bad Homburg
  2. Archäologisches Museum Frankfurt
  3. Bibelhaus Erlebnis Museum
  4. Caricatura Museum Frankfurt
  5. Deutsches Architekturmuseum
  6. Deutsches Filmmuseum
  7. Deutsches Ledermuseum, Offenbach
  8. Dommuseum Frankfurt am Main
  9. Eintracht Frankfurt Museum
  10. Fotografie Forum Frankfurt
  11. Frankfurter Kunstverein
  12. Geldmuseum der Deutschen Bundesbank*
  13. Frankfurter Goethe-Haus/Goethe-Museum
  14. Haus der Stadtgeschichte, Offenbach
  15. Hindemith Kabinett im Kuhhirtenturm
  16. Historisches Museum Frankfurt/ Höchster Porzellan-Museum
  17. Ikonen-Museum der Stadt Frankfurt
  18. Institut für Stadtgeschichte/Karmeliterkloster
  19. Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt
  20. Kindermuseum Frankfurt
  21. Klingspor-Museum, Offenbach
  22. Liebieghaus – Skulpturensammlung
  23. Weltkulturen Museum
  24. Museum Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt
  25. Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main
  26. Museum für Kommunikation Frankfurt
  27. Museum Giersch
  28. Museum Judengasse
  29. Portikus*
  30. Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
  31. Senckenberg Naturmuseum Frankfurt
  32. Städel Museum
  33. Stoltze-Museum der Frankfurter Sparkasse*
  34. Struwwelpeter-Museum/Heinrich-Hoffmann-Museum

Do keep in mind that these museums are closed due to renovation works:
– Geldmuseum (Money Museum) until end of 2016
– Jüdisches Museum until 2018
– Museum Judengasse until spring 2016
– Stoltze-Museum has been relocated for 18 month to another building

museumlocationParticipating museums location.

Museum Embankment-Ticket
You can use the Museumsufer ticket to visit 34 museums on two consecutive days. If on the day after purchase museums are officially closed the ticket’s validity is extended by one day.

The Museumsufer ticket is available in three versions:
. as single ticket for €18
. as family card for 2 adults (in a partnership) and children/grandchildren under 18 years for €28
. as a concessionary ticket €10

The Ticket is not transferable; you need to show your passport and write your name on the ticket, and is only valid in combination with genuine identification.

tixSingle ticket €18 with my name on it.

I will tell about the museums I went to in my next posts (with lots of photos).

* Book your cheap Kuala Lumpur Frankfurt flights (KUL – FRA) with Lufthansa and enjoy beautiful Frankfurt. Benefit from the low fares and great service! And don’t forget to try Premium Economy Class for more personal space, more free baggage, more service. Long-haul travel in Premium Economy Class comes with plenty of comforts. 

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The perks of Lufthansa Premium Economy Class

And so, I went to Frankfurt Book Fair for the fourth time on a premium economy class with Lufthansa.

My check-in with double luggage (up to combined weight of 23 kg) went smooth and I proceeded to the gate when it was time for boarding. When I boarded and seated, I was greeted with a smile, a selection of current reading material, and a welcome drink.

drinksOrange juice with minced leaf or something like that as a welcome drink. Taste is good! Let me know if you know what those green thingy are.

The premium economy seat was everything that I hoped for a long-haul flight (12 hours); more personal space that offers up to 50 per cent more space altogether on all sides. A high quality travel kit located at the seat (below armrest) with many useful accessories surely provides additional relaxation. In front of me, there was a bottle of water as well as more reading materials.

legroomAmple legroom! Normally on economy seat, my knees would touch the front seat. Oh, but anyway,  I was in front row, so no seat ever touched my knees!

After I made myself comfortable, I fold out the touch-screen monitor from the front side of the armrest. Entertainment was wonderful! There were like 100 films in up to eight languages, 200 TV programmes, 300 music CDs with an excellent selection of music and songs from all genres, up to 30 Lufthansa radio channels and more.

While watching a new movie, Self/Less (I thought Ryan Reynolds looks good in the movie), I was offered another drink together with a snack. And a little after that, a menu of meal selection was handed to me. I took my time choosing from the menu and enjoy my meal served on fine china. Meal was great!

menu

meal

With the premium economy seat that was definitely far more comfortable than a normal economy seat, I spent two comfortable hours watching the movie, with my seat reclined and footrest extended. On the screen, there’s a USB port where I charged my mobile phone.

Before I really intended to have my long-haul sleep, I put on some music—mixed playlist of my favourite oldies namely R.E.M, Earth Wind and Fire, and The Cure—and let myself fall asleep naturally. Last I heard was Love Song by The Cure.

When I woke up, it was breakfast time. I must’ve slept for more than 7 hours! It was a great sleep and was my first proper sleep after days of sleepless nights clearing my work prior to the trip.

Not long after breakfast, the captain announced that we would be landing soon. The aircraft touched down Frankfurt Flughafen runway at about 7am as estimated. It was really a great flight as I was well rested and well fed on the plane.

Here’s a factsheet of all the perks on Lufthansa Premium Economy Class:

factsheetCredit image: http://lufthansaexperts-training.com/factsheet/Lufthansa_Premium-Economy-Class_Factsheet_EN.pdf

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The Walk in Mainz

October 12, 2014.

It was around 10am when my publisher friends and I reached the Mainz Hauptbahnhof. We had travelled by train from Frankfurt am Main Hauptbahnhof 38 minutes earlier. The air was cool and windy, and the sun was hiding. We had anticipated the weather and each of us wore thick jackets.

FHBftoMHbf

Mainz03

Not one of us were sure how to get to Gutenberg Museum and so we decided to depend on GPS on my mobile phone. I had bought a local sim card with data plan on the first day I arrived in Frankfurt. From my past travels to Frankfurt, I figured that it is a whole lot easier to get local card and get in touch with other people online while on the move. Besides, I am an avid Instagrammer and posting photos with the current location seemed more fun.

*For more info on the local sim card, read my post here.

thewalk

Basically, we walked about 20 minutes and en-route the museum, I had captured a lot of photos that appealed to me. I am reliving the moment and invite you to take the walk with me now. Interested? Let’s walk.

hotelThis is Hotel Königshof Mainz, just opposite the train station.

thewalk2Chairs opposite the hotel.

berlinerBerliner Gemüse Kebap, Große Bleiche. This was where we had our late lunch on the way back.

thewalk3Somewhere at Steingasse Street.

thewalk4 Pandora outlet at Schusterstrasse.

 lowenLöwen Apotheke am Dom at Markt Square.

 thewalk5Dom Cafe at Markt Square.

 mainzerdomMainz Cathedral or St. Martin’s Cathedral at Markt Square. This 1000 year-old Roman Catholic cathedral is predominantly Romanesque in style, but later exterior additions over many centuries have resulted in the appearance of various architectural influences seen today.

lamaisonLa Maison du Pain, Markt Square that serves French pastries.

Overall, I have a total of 209 photos from Mainz but it is impossible to share all. Hehe. So let’s skip to the basic information about Mainz.

Mainz is famous for its university, its Roman heritage, its status as a media hub and regional capital, and its three most defining features: the Romanesque cathedral, the Gutenberg printing press and the Rhineland carnival. The people of Mainz have good reason to be proud of their city’s history spanning almost 2,000 years.

For over 1,000 years the city’s skyline has been dominated by one building, Mainz Cathedral. Towering majestically in its central location, the cathedral is one of the most important churches in Germany. Its foundation stone was laid in 975 AD under the aegis of Bishop Willigis. In its shadows lie the medieval and early modern quarters of Mainz.

The city is dominated by two architectural periods: the modern age, as evidenced by the town hall, the Hilton hotel and Rheingoldhalle complex, and the Renaissance-Baroque with the Neues Zeughaus, the Deutschordenshaus and the Electoral Palace. According to some art historians, the unusually ornate, nuanced design of the Electoral Palace’s facade surpasses even that of Heidelberg Castle.

Mainz also offers a wealth of fascinating museums. The Gutenberg Printing Museum and the Central Romano-Germanic Museum in the Electoral Palace stand out as the best in the city. The palace’s pre-history and early history collections, along with those on Roman and early medieval history, are complemented by large restoration workshops that enjoy an international reputation – even Ötzi the Iceman, found in the Alps, has paid a visit. An even broader spectrum, from the Stone Age to modern times, is explored at Mainz State Museum, founded in 1803 with 36 paintings donated by Napoleon.

The Cathedral and Diocesan Museum in the cathedral provides information about the history of the episcopal church and the bishopric. The Museum of Municipal History gives an extensive insight into the development of Mainz, while the Natural History Museum is the largest of its kind in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The Kunsthalle Mainz art gallery rounds off the museum highlights in impressive fashion: the strikingly redesigned building at the former customs port is now encased in glass and even features a sloped exhibition floor on a seven degree incline.

Source: http://www.germany.travel/en/towns-cities-culture/towns-cities/mainz.html

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