Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf — Part 2: Everything Else

Only two hours free on Thursday morning, and I hiked myself to the Danube and into Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf to gawk at mediæval art. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d be seeing; the museum presents itself as “5 museums in 1”: the Gallery of Paintings, with works from the 15th to early-20th century; Modern Art for everything after that up ’til now; Prints and Drawings from the Baroque on; Sculpture and Applied Arts; and the Hentrich Glass Museum. As well, there’s the Rubens’ collection. I headed for the mediæval stuff first (as usual in its own post). Here is everything else, minus the some of the Modern Art (was in a wing I didn’t make it to), and minus the Prints and Drawings (not even sure where that was). Anyway I’d run out of time even if I knew where I was going.

The museum is a beautiful, wide and low u-shaped series of dark brown brick buildings of that particular late-’20s style, long, terraced horizontals, with a broad central park promenade. One can enter the left wing to see the older collections, or the right to see the newer and temporary exhibitions. Seeing it’s winter, and continuing my streak of visiting museums with are only half-open, there was some of this here too. (But the museum is always open on Google Maps!)

Entering the left wing, the entire wall opposite glows with Johan Thorn Prikker’s stained glass windows. It’s difficult to grasp size in a photo, but the lowest, largest row is around 5 metres high. Actually the order of the photos here bears scant resemblance to the path I wandered through. Nonetheless, off to the glass collection. There was a glass fibre goat I wanted to see. Disappointment, that section not open (Who cares? See it on Google Maps baaaaaa!). This collection is half archaeological, with pieces in the basement thousands of years old, Roman, Byzantine, of course Mediæval and Renaissance … I laughed at the German Phallusgläser, deep green cock and balls bottles. Also the one I forgot to photograph the caption of, with spread-legged, large-breasted, winged creatures etched around the body of the vase. Many of the works were in parts not open for viewing, including most of the contemporary stuff. Jutta Cuny’s Grand Affrontation — Pénétration was one I could see, thick sand-blasted blocks of ocean-green glass. To be honest though, I skimmed through this collection.

Outside, part the dry fountain and across to the other wing, up to the top floor and into the Modern Art collection, I was doing this all sideways. German Expressionism, Brücke, Blaue Reiter, an amazing small collection of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner figurative works, others by Wassily Kandinsky, cubist works overblown with cross-processed colour, green, pink, blue skin, makes me think my next museum visit in Berlin will be seeing this stuff. An op-art piece by Bridget Riley, massive and square, even the photo causes my eyes to wrinkle.

Six lithographs by Willy Jaeckel, Memento 1914/1915, which look so much like Goya’s Disasters of War, and probably some of the last documentary or journalistic art before the camera superseded drawing. Many of the larger works wealthy family portraits, landscapes I found conservative and dull, also caused by the unexpected sliding into the Gallery of Paintings. As usual many were impossible to photograph with all the light bouncing around. A couple here though. Then I found myself in the Baroque and Rubens’ rooms, which I’ve confusingly put in the mediæval art post.

Exiting the way I came in, the atrium on the right side has no stained glass windows but a massive 3-storey installation by Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger, The Autonomic Nervous System, which I had to ignore the attendants shoe-ing me out to photograph. It’s far more delicate and sparse than the photo suggests, all that detail spread through a 6 metre depth.

Ja, so, feels a little strange to blog on non-mediæval art, what to say, what am I looking at, lack of context and knowledge. Lack of time also. I almost ran, skidded, catapulted through the last rooms, looking with camera instead of eyes, then dashing back to tanzhaus nrw for Thursday’s rehearsal and run-through. Anyway, pictures!