Contemporary Art Hamburger

Yes, “Contemporary Art hamburger.” Or maybe not. Maybe my foreign language skills are starting to falter a little bit. What else could Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum fur Gegenwart mean other than “Contemporary Art Hamburger”? Oh, wait a minute: in a former life, the space was a train station taking passengers to and from Hamburg and now it’s Berlin’s premier contemporary art space.

The Hambuger Bahnhof today

The Hambuger Bahnhof today

Hamburger Bahnhof

Hamburger Bahnhof (C) Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz

As you can see, the main space hasn’t altered that much since it was “all change” at the station.

Just look at all that space!

Hang on a minute though… isn’t it supposed to be full of art? Well, the thing with contemporary art – or so it seems to me- is that there’s often a lot of  empty space involved. Trust me about the art. It is there. I saw it.

More than that. I took pictures of it! Just imagine, being allowed to take pictures in an art gallery! In a contemporary art space, what’s more! Such a thing would be unheard of at home! There everyone was though, snapping away in full view of the gallery attendants and no one was was asked to stop. It almost felt like ‘papping’ the artwork was encouraged.

So, what grabbed my attention?

Andy Warhol's Chairman Mao

Andy Warhol’s Chairman Mao

The Hamburger has a couple of Andy Warhol pieces in their collection. The Chairman Mao Print was massive! It dwarfs the two people standing next to it. The other piece that struck me was much smaller but much more iconic: Warhol’s Marilyn.

Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe

Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe

It was really interesting, for me at least, to come face to face with this particular image of feminine beauty just days after coming across a Warhol-style image of another. Nefertiti and Marilyn had two very different types of beauty, and yet here they are – both subjects of the same style of art.

Fans of films featuring flaxen-haired lawyer types will recognise the following line: “I need a Jackie, not a Marilyn.” In the film, both the ‘Jackie’ and the ‘Marilyn’ had happy endings. In real-life, it didn’t really work out that way. I’ve already explored Jackie’s story in the Kennedy Museum and later that same day here I am face-to-face with her husband’s rumoured lover. One lived happily ever after, the other alas, did not.

As I was wandering around the museum, I was continually struck not just by the artwork but by the space. There was so much of it! And to think, it used to be a train terminal. Just imagine if something like that happened in London…

Hamburger Bahnhof

Hamburger Bahnhof

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