Frederick The Great’s Picture Gallery Celebrates 250 Years With Special Exhibition

Frederick the Great
A magnificent art gallery constructed by Frederick the Great of Prussia in Potsdam is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, Art Daily reports.

The gallery at Sanssouci Park, part of Frederick the Great’s palace complex, was home to his vast collection of Classical and (then) contemporary art. While it lost much of its collection over the years, especially during the Napoleonic Wars and WWII, it’s still an impressive center for fine art.

To celebrate the anniversary, the gallery is hosting “The Most Beautyful Gallery – Revisiting the Picture Gallery of Frederick the Great,” and has brought together much of the original collection that got dispersed across Europe. Paintings from various periods fill the walls, including examples from the Italian Renaissance and High Baroque as well as 17th century Flemish and Dutch works. The gallery also shows Frederick’s passion for Classical sculpture. Even the walls are made of marble torn from ancient buildings.

Potsdam is only 23 miles from Berlin and makes a good day trip from the German capital.

“The Most Beautyful Gallery – Revisiting the Picture Gallery of Frederick the Great” runs until October 31.

[Photo courtesy Kent Wang]

Vintage Nude Photos On Display In Berlin’s Photography Museum

nude photos
The Museum of Photography in Berlin has just opened an exhibition of nude photos from the turn of the last century.

“The Naked Truth and More Besides Nude Photography around 1900″ brings together hundreds of nude photos from an era we normally associate with old-fashioned prudery. In fact, nude photos were incredibly popular at that time. They had existed since the earliest days of the medium, and by the 1880s it was getting much cheaper to reproduce photographs. This led to a boom in the distribution of all photos, nudes included.

Soon nudity could be seen in magazines, advertising, postcards, collectible cards found in cigarette packs and large-format posters. The exhibition looks at a range of different styles and purposes of nudes, ranging from artistic studies to the blatantly pornographic. Rural images and scenes from Classical myths were also popular, as were photos of the nudist movement, which was seeing its first wave of popularity at this time.

%Gallery-187444%The explosion in nudes led to society questioning their traditional assumptions. The marks that corsets left on the flesh made some question whether they should be worn. Homoerotica became more widespread and the first homoerotic magazine, Der Eigene, started in 1896 and published many male nudes.

People who wanted to buy or sell nude photos had to skirt the law. By dubbing the images “for artistic purposes only,” they could claim their interest wasn’t prurient, a bit like how head shops nowadays label bongs “for tobacco use only.” The police did make frequent busts, and one of the largest collections of nude photos from this era is housed at the Police Museum of Lower Saxony, which supplied many of the more risqué photos for this exhibition.

Then as now, there was a continuous debate over what was or was not obscene. Simple nudes were generally considered acceptable, especially if they were artistic studies or images of “primitive” peoples. Surprisingly, images of nude children were also more acceptable than today since they were considered images of innocence. While some child nudes are on display at the museum, none appear in this article.

“The Naked Truth and More Besides Nude Photography around 1900″ runs until August 25.

[Photo copyright Heinrich Kühn, copyright Estate of the Artist / Galerie Kicken Berlin]

World War II Bomb Closes Berlin Rail Station

World War Two, Berlin
Berlin commuters got an unwelcome reminder of their city’s wartime past today when a bomb from World War II was discovered near the city’s main railway station.

The Hauptbahnhof was closed for several hours as bomb disposal experts dealt with the device, the BBC reports. Flights to and from Tegel airport were diverted.

The device was a 220-pound Soviet bomb and was discovered at a building site a mile north of the train station. While this may seem to be too far away to cause concern to those using the station, German bomb disposal experts are extra careful, especially after three of their number were killed while attempting to defuse a wartime bomb in Gottingen in 2010.

The bomb has now been defused and taken away. All transport has resumed.

Berlin was hit hard in World War II. As you can see from this image taken by the British army shortly after the war, the city was pretty much leveled. Nearly half a million tons of ordnance was dumped on the city and an estimated one in eight bombs didn’t go off. While most explosive devices were cleaned up in the months after the war, they’re still being uncovered on a regular basis.

Germany isn’t the only country that has to worry about wartime ordnance. In 2001, workers found a World War II grenade near Gatwick Airport in England.

Last year the BBC published an interesting interview with a German bomb disposal expert.

[Photo courtesy No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Wilkes A (Sergeant)]

Bryan Adams Opens Photography Exhibition In Düsseldorf

Bryan AdamsFor any child of the ’80s, Bryan Adams is that clean-cut Canadian rock star with a steady string of hits. While he’s not as big as he once was, he’s still making great music and going on tour.

What many people don’t know about him is that he’s also an accomplished photographer. He’s been published in magazines such as Esquire and Interview and has done numerous shows at top venues such as the Saatchi Gallery in London.

Adams takes advantage of his superstar status to get other famous musicians to pose for him. Check out the image of Amy Winehouse below. He’s also photographed Queen Elizabeth II and got that image used on a Canadian postage stamp.

Now his latest show has opened at the NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf, Germany. “Bryan Adams – Exposed” features a cross-section of his best work from the past couple of decades. Some 150 portraits of artists are included as well as numerous new works. Some of his newer images go beyond his circle of superstar friends to portray wounded British servicemen from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, like this image of Private Karl Hinett.”I took my first photos with a small camera that belonged to my parents,” Adams said in a press release issued by the NRW-Forum. “The subjects of my first film, in the mid 1970s, were concert photos of the Beach Boys, parking lot walls, my girlfriend in the bathroom, my Mom, my piano, just everyday things, but exactly the things I could see around me.”

“Bryan Adams – Exposed” runs until May 22.

[Images copyright Bryan Adams]

Bryan Adams, Amy WInehouse

Goetz Of The Iron Hand: On The Trail Of Renaissance Germany’s Biggest Badass

medieval, Goetz of the Iron HandRenaissance Germany was a violent place. A patchwork of different kingdoms, principalities, and baronies with constantly changing allegiances, the land was wracked with near-constant warfare.

The people in charge were some pretty rough characters. By far the roughest was Götz von Berlichingen, also known as Götz of the Iron Hand. You can also spell it “Goetz” if your browser hiccups at the sight of an umlaut.

His last name, Berlichingen, was for many years used as a popular euphemism for the phrase er kann mich am Arsche lecken, which translates as “he can lick my ass.” This gives some insight into his character.

Götz was born around 1480 in Württemberg. As a nobleman, he was part of the vicious power play that was part of daily life for the rich and influential in Germany. He set off to war while still in his teens and fought in various conflicts, eventually forming his own band of mercenaries.

In 1504, while besieging the city of Landshut, a cannonball hit his sword, swung it around, and caused poor Götz to cut off his own forearm. Not one to be deterred by minor setbacks, Götz had a prosthetic arm made so that he could continue campaigning.

The arm was a masterpiece of Renaissance design, as you can see from this old manuscript drawing reproduced on Wikimedia Commons. It was strong enough to hold a weapon and precise enough to hold a quill pen. Various buttons and levers worked springs so that it had much of the range of motion of a real hand. You can see some images of it at work here, and a detailed look at the mechanics in the gallery. It was so advanced that it served as the inspiration for prosthetic arms for German physicians after World War I, more than 400 years after it was made.

%Gallery-177598%We know a lot about Götz’s exploits thanks to an autobiography he wrote. In it he estimates that he took part in 15 feuds on the behalf of himself and his family, and numerous others for allies. Goethe was so inspired by Götz’s violent story that he wrote a play about him. The one-armed warrior remained an icon of German manliness and during World War II the SS named a division after him.

You can still see some of the places Götz lived and fought. Hornberg Castle, in Baden-Württemberg, was his home from the time he bought it in 1517 until his death in 1562. The castle, shown below, has a museum containing his armor. The castle itself is now a hotel and restaurant that offers a “knight’s feast” with the hint that Götz himself may make an appearance and have a drink with you.

To see his famous hand, you need to go to Burg Jagsthausen, another castle-turned hotel and restaurant.
Renaissance

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]