Berlin’s Kulturforum and the Gemäldegalerie (Painting Gallery)

Berlin’s Kulturforum and the Gemäldegalerie (Painting Gallery)

Porträt einer Dame (Simonetta Vespucci)When the Prussian collections got into serious difficulty housing its extensive artefacts, plans were made for a second museum hub in Berlin as early as the beginning of the 20th century. Yet it took until the 1950s before the Kulturforum, a collection of cultural buildings, was eventually designed and built at the edge of West-Berlin close to Potsdamer Platz (at that time right at the border where the Soviet, British and American sectors conjoined). Thus the Cold War division of the city was also mirrored in the public art collections that were once literally scattered on both sides of the Berlin Wall. The Kulturforum can also be understood as the modernist answer to the Museum Island. After a discussion about the modenist outlines of the Kulturforum, and a walk by such stunning buildings such as the Neue Nationalgalerie designed by Mies van der Rohe and the organic State Library and Philharmonie both by Hans Scharoun, we will concentrate on the spectacular paintings of the Gemäldegalerie.

Gemaldegalerie Image Center TextDuring the Cold War the Old Master paintings ranging from the 13th to 18th centuries were in a temporary exhibition space in the suburban Dahlem district in West-Berlin. After the German reunification of 1990, these art works did not return to their historical home on the Museum Island. The Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery) completed in 1998 was especially designed to be this historic collection’s new home. That is why the Gemäldegalerie presides over one of the world’s finest collections of European masterpieces by Van Eyck, Bruegel, Dürer, Raphael, Tizian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Rembrandt’s Cornelis Claesz Anslo and his wife Aaltje and Samson threatening his father-in-law are neighbors of two of the finest works of the Dutch master Frans Hals, the almost impressionistic Malle Babbe and the portrait of the One-year-old Catharina Hoofdt and her nurse, a version of Sandro Botticelli’s Venus Rising and Antonio da Correggio’s Leda with the Swan.

Gemaldgalerie Image 5 bottom textIn order to help you better understand early modern art practices we discuss exciting details of historical paintings, analyzing process, material and compositional structure, and considering the ever changing role of art in the society. Looking closely at the Gemäldegalerie’s extraordinary medieval art helps us to acquire a context for the artistic development of later centuries. We move forward by investigating the surprisingly contemporary qualities of the Dutch Golden Age paintings, paying special attention to the octagonal Rembrandt room at the heart of the museum and admiring the magical genre scenes of Jan Vermeer with his luminous painting technique and revolutionary use of optical devices, such as a camera obscura. We cover as many facets as possible within our three hours, but we humbly acknowledge that with such a colossal amount of art history masterpieces, the Gemäldegalerie is best tackled over a couple of visits.

f4Fabiola Bierhoff is an art historian and PhD Candidate in the History and Cultural Studies program at the Free University of Berlin. She received her Bachelor in Art History at Radboud University Nijmegen in 2006 and holds a Masters in Museum Curatorship summa cum laude from the Free University of Amsterdam. Her Master Thesis on the alternative East German art scene was awarded the Annual Master Thesis Award 2010. Since 2009 she has been an art writer for the bimonthly magazine De Witte Raaf. Fabiola is currently conducting research for her dissertation, which is provisionally entitled “The Role of Autonomous Art Criticism for Performance Art in the Last Decade of the German Democratic Republic”. Her research is funded by a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and a research grant from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.
twins 1 Maria and Natalia Petschatnikov are identical twins. As visual artists they work collaboratively in the border region between painting and installation. Originally from St. Petersburg, they received their art education in the United States (BFA – Rhode Island College, MFA – Hunter College of The City University of New York) and in France (École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris). They moved to Germany in 1999 and have travelled half of Europe thanks to numerous fellowships and residency programs. The Petschatnikovs have exhibited widely throughout Europe as well and are represented by Wagner+Partner Gallery in Berlin. In addition, the sisters both teach studio art and art history at a number of schools and institutes in Berlin and Hamburg. Since 2000 they have been invited to give regular workshops and tours at the Kunsthalle Museum in Hamburg. One of the major strategies of their art production as well as their teaching lies in juxtaposing classical and contemporary art.
f1Madelief ter Braak is architectural historian and freelance writer/journalist. In 2011 she graduated cum laude with a Research Master Art History & Archaeology from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands). Fascinated by urban public space, she focuses on the use and representation of this everchanging aspect of the city in the past, present and future. In her research and writing she’s guided by unconventional sources in art, photography, literature, poetry, films and music. Cross-cultural interests and curiosity have led to several publications in very diverse (online) magazines. For Blauwe Kamer  magazine on landscape development and urbanism, she writes the column ‘Standplaats Berlijn’. On her research she’s given lectures at the School of Architecture Groningen, the TU Delft and the Art historian Institute from the University of Groningen. Her masterthesis Flanieren in Berlin is written as a journey across east and west, in times of dictatorship and democracy.


Additional Costs:
Gemäldegalerie Tickets
Individual: €10, students & seniors €5
Online shop: €9, students & seniors €4,50

We send you a separate e-mail invoice for your group’s tickets so that our guide can prepay for them, sparing you from long entrance lines. Let us know if you will be holding Berlin passes that already cover your admission to the Gemäldegalerie.


Groups of over 10 should contact us at [email protected] in order to get a special rate for their party.

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