Art News

The Martin Gropius Bau to Feature a Thousand Years of Polish-German Art and History

artwork: Jan Matejko - "The Prussian Homage", 1882 - Oil on canvas - 388 × 875 cm. National Museum, Kraków. - On view at the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin in "Side by Side: Poland – Germany. A 1000 Years of Art and History" from September 23rd until January 9th 2012.

Berlin, Germany – The Martin Gropius Bau is pleased to present a joint exhibition, “Side by Side: Poland – Germany. A 1000 Years of Art and History” as part of the International Cultural Programme of the Polish EU Presidency 2011. Jointly organised with the Royal Castle in Warsaw, “Side by Side” will be on view at the Martin Gropius Bau from September 23rd through January 9th 2012. Poland and Germany look back on over 1000 years of shared history. Among the special highlights is the presentation of Jan Matejko’s monumental work the ‘Prussian Homage’ on loan from the National Museum in Kraków. Contemporary artists have also ventured a look into the future with works that were especially commissioned by the Martin-Gropius-Bau.

artwork: Unknown Artist - "Duchess Hedwig", ca 1530 Mixed media on vellum transferred to canvas 69.5 x 54.5 cm - Courtesy Martin Gropius Bau. © Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung, Landshut, Burg Trausnitz. On until January 9th 2012.The complex nature of the history of the two neighbours has above all been shaped by major political developments and events, which have removed from the horizon areas of cultural common ground in such fields as culture, religion, language and economy. Both German and Polish cultural memory is often shaped by emotion and prejudice. Nonetheless, there seems to be a consensus on both sides of the River Oder that a new process of understanding, which begun over 20 years ago, has been forming a basis of a lasting friendship. Polish presidency of the European Union is a unique opportunity to strengthen this vital dialogue through an exhibition in the German capital. This will be the very first time that the 1000 years of Polish-German history in all its manifestations is depicted in a major exhibition.

Approximately 700 historical and contemporary exhibits – with some 250 paintings, 30 sculptures, 60 incunabula, 80 manuscripts and 60 prints – will be shown in 19 rooms of the gallery’s ground floor with a total area of 3,200 square metres. Apart from traditional works of art the exhibition includes over 60 documents, 100 craft objects, 150 photographs, film material and books as well as examples of music including compositions by Arnold Schönberg, J.F. Telemann, J.S. Bach and the others. The exhibits from numerous Polish, German and international museums and collections are witness of the culture in Poland and Germany. The list of lenders includes the National Museum in Warsaw, the Lódz Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Vatican Library.

The Martin Gropius Bau (Martin Gropius building, or MGB) is considered one of Berlin’s most magnificent buildings with its combined classical and Renaissance features. A short walk from Potsdamer Platz, it doubles as one of Europe’s top international exhibition and event venues. With a constant flow of half a million visitors per year and over 20 large art photography and cultural exhibitions, the MGB is an established Berlin cultural institution. First inaugurated in 1881 as a Museum for the Applied Arts, the building was designed by Martin Gropius, great uncle of Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus movement and Heino Schmieden. After World War I, the building housed the Museum of Pre and Early History and the East Asian Art Collection. Damaged, like most Berlin buildings during World War II and not deemed worthy of preservation, the building was almost demolished to make way for an urban motorway were it not for the intervention of Walter Gropius. Given protected heritage site status in 1966, its reconstruction and restoration only began in 1978 when it was also renamed Martin Gropius Bau. After reconstruction of the exterior by Winnetou Kampmann, it reopened in 1981 as an exhibition venue, remaining directly adjacent to the Berlin Wall until 1990 and accessible only via a rear entrance as the main doorway remained unusuable because of its proximity to the Wall. After German reunification and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a further spate of restoration and alteration was necessary and the Federal Government commissioned architects Hilmer, Sattler and Albrecht to carry out the work. Completed in 2000, the works included air conditioning and the redesigning of the north entrance as the main entrance to the building.

artwork: Domenico Quaglio - "Summer Refectory of the Palace of Grand Masters in Malbork", 1835-36 Oil on canvas - 55.5 x 70.5 cm - Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. At the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin

Today the Martin Gropius Bau building is the central venue for the Berliner Festspiele and its partners – the 50 year old umbrella cultural institution which runs many of Berlin’s international festivals and cultural events including the Musikfest Berlin, the International Literature Festival and JazzFest Berlin. The Gropius Bau hosts over 20 large art, photography and cultural exhibitions every year. Among the building’s special features are its vast exhibition and reception spaces. These include the 300m north vestibule with a glass dome, the 600m Atrium on the ground floor with a surrounding gallery where vast functions for up to 750 guests can be held. Other facilities are conference rooms and a 200-seat cinema. Just off the central Foyer area on the ground floor are the Café and Bookshop. In the high-ceilinged café meals and refreshments are available and in the warmer months food is served in the garden at the back of the building. Visit the MGB website at …