Today was Saturday and finally we got to have a lie in which I enjoyed immensely. We went down for breakfast at a quarter to ten and because we did not have to rush we were able to enjoy a more leisurely breakfast which was really good.
The plan for today was to visit the Photography Museum – The Helmut Newton Foundation and after lunch the Bauhaus Museum. It was a lovely day and the Photography Museum was a pleasant 700 metres stroll away. Work by Newton, Horvat, and Brodziek was on show.
Helmut Newton (born Helmut Neustädter; 31 October 1920 – 23 January 2004) was a German-Australian photographer. He was a “prolific, widely imitated fashion photographer whose provocative, erotically charged black-and-white photos were a mainstay of Vogue and other publications.” We have long been an admirer of his work and we enjoyed this exhibition which focussed less on the fashion shots many of us are familiar with and more on his personal work.
Wikipedia tells me that Frank Horvat is a photographer born on April 28, 1928 in Abbazia (Italy), now Opatija (Croatia), presently living and working in France. He is best known for his fashion photography, published between the mid-1950s and the end of the 1980s, but his photographic opus includes photojournalism, portraiture, landscape, nature and sculpture. In 1988, he produced a major book of interviews with fellow photographers, such as Don McCullin, Robert Doisneau, Sarah Moon, Helmut Newton and Marc Riboud . At the beginning of the 1990s, he was one of the first to experiment with Photoshop. In 1998, he replaced his professional equipment with a compact camera, which he always carries in his pocket, in order to shoot anything, at any moment that seems to him of some interest. In 2011, he put online his first iPad application (Horvatland). Clearly a major figure in photography but in truth we were neutral on his work.
Szymon Brodziak was born 1979 in Poland. As a photographer he specializes in unconventional black and white advertising campaigns with a personal approach. Brodziak is an economics graduate who has been taken over by a passion for photography. After quitting the family business, he worked in various advertising agencies, assisting in fashion and advertising shootings, which today are his main fields of professional activity. Since 2006, Szymon Brodziak has obtained many international awards and honourable mentions, both for commercial and personal projects, including 4 Silver Medals at the 2011 Prix de la Photographie in Paris. Szymon is also the prize-winner of the Johnnie Walker Keep Walking Award for the constant fulfilment of dreams and the passion for setting new paths in the search of beauty. His photographs have been published in various fashion and lifestyle magazines, including international edtions of Playboy and Italian Vogue. Without doubt Brodziak is a rising star in the photography world and his work really stood out for us. As we have said we have long admired Newton, Horvat undoubtedly is to be admired but wasn’t for us and Brodziak for us is the new shining star that we have latched onto.
While Newton’s erotica often has a coldness, perhaps even a callousness to it, Brodziak is warmer. Clearly he is an admirer of Newton but his style remains his own and to call him a Newton imitator would be unfair to the originality he brings to his work. We enjoyed our visit to the museum a lot and came away with a lot to talk about and think about. Put simply it was a very stimulating morning.
The Bauhaus Museum was about a kilometre walk from The Photography Museum and we broke it up with a light lunch at a café on route. Nothing remarkable food wise, though the homemade lemonade was delicious. At the museum there was an audio tour available but we passed on this as while it was free it was a 20 euro deposit and we only had enough cash for one. Rules were not for bending and the officiousness demonstrated by the woman dishing out the audio systems was a quite wonderful mix of arrogance, officiousness and unbending unhelpfulness. Checkpoint Charlie, Stasi, East German, were all random thoughts flashing through my mind. Bauhaus was already blowing my mind as I wondered if there was an irony in encountering this woman’s intransigence in the Bauhaus museum. Unquestionably her form exceeded her function.
Anyway, safely through Checkpoint Charlie, albeit that the headsets had been confiscated from us, we began our perusal of the Bauhaus Museum.
So what is Bauhaus? Wikipedia explains as follows. Bauhaus, was an art school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicised and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term Bauhaus – literally “house of construction”—was understood as meaning “School of Building”. The Bauhaus was first founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. In spite of its name, and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus during the first years of its existence did not have an architecture department. Nonetheless, it was founded with the idea of creating a “total” work of art in which all arts, including architecture, would eventually be brought together. The Bauhaus style later became one of the most influential currents in modern design, Modernist architecture and art, design and architectural education. The Bauhaus had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.
None the wiser? Me neither really but perhaps the following will clarify it for all of us. In my mind I see it as a marriage of simple but beautiful form with function. The polar opposite of neo classicism perhaps? Not “Art for Art’s Sake” but rather the incorporation of art into industrial production of functional objects. In my mind I see minimalism as a modern evolvement of Bauhaus, but in reality I am not sure if any of this is right. However, a central principle to Bauhaus design is “ form follows function”, a concept first coined in fact by the American architect, Louis Sullivan, in his article The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered in 1896.
“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling.
It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”
What you can see is that we found the museum visit very stimulating, as we debated Bauhaus over our tea served in Bauhaus designed cups and debated random questions such as, “ Is nature inherently Bauhaus?” and “Is my favourite Lamy pen Bauhaus?” In answer to the first question, perhaps Louis Sullivan had already considered this as far back as 1896 with the assertion that “form ever follows function. This is the law.” At the time we coined the question though we were blissfully unaware of Sullivan’s existence. Bearing in mind he was considering “the sweeping eagle in flight” perhaps it is not unreasonable to argue that indeed nature is inherently Bauhaus! In answer to the second question, Lamy take design seriously and also follow the Bauhaus principle of functional design, “ form follows function” and as such their pens are Bauhaus and consequently were on sale in the gift shop. Similarly Max Bill Junghan watches – clearly Bauhaus – were for sale. My personal Lamy pen however, has a few superfluous holes in its design. Do these compromise its Bauhaus qualities, or are they simple Bauhaus art elements incorporated into the pen? Well, we have to conclude that the functionality of the pen clip which retracts when the rollerball is extended for use and then reappears when the rollerball is concealed, proves the function is preceding the form and that the superfluous holes are indeed simple Bauhaus artistic design elements.
Between the two museums much food for thought was put on the menu and we found it fun. We walked leisurely back to our hotel through some lovely gardens by a canal and the zoo, slowly digesting our mind food. Close to our hotel we stopped again at a roof top café and P had an Aperol Spritz while I enjoyed a fancy ice cream – and no I didn’t ponder upon the Bauhaus qualities of my ice cream delight!