Berlin’s Favorite Son, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, on Display
Enlarge image Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841) (© picture alliance / akg) Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841), a man who left his mark on Berlin, was more than just an architect - he was a Renaissance man. The Berliner Kulturforum has collected a roughly 300 exhibit-deep all-encompassing retrospective of the 19th century master titled Karl Friedrich Schinkel. History and Poetry, which showcases his work in architecture, painting, stage building and design. There is hardly a genre that Schinkel did not touch, said Director of the Museum of Print and Drawings of the National Museums in Berlin, Heinrich Schulze Altcappenberg to the news agency dapd. He noted it was the first time such a comprehensive collection has been possible – a task they have been working on since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
It is a show designed to pull Schinkel out of the “shadow of architecture,” explained the curator. The range and quality of his works are proven, added Schulze Altcappenberg, but so too is his work ethic – he was prolific, restless, or in modern terms, a workaholic.
Schinkel is one of the most influential and important architects of his era. His most famous structures in the heart of the German capital – the Schauspielhaus theater located at Gendarmenmarkt square, the Neue Wache on the central boulevard Unter den Linden, the Altes Museum, now part of the UNESCO World Heritage site Museum Island – are some of Berlin’s most recognizable landmarks, buildings that transformed the city where Schinkel lived and died. Yet still, his smaller works deserve note as well.
The exposition at the Kulturforum has been broken into nine parts to best highlight the full spectrum of Schinkel’s multi-talents. Curator Schulze Altcappenberg was able to pull out all the stops and finally put on display a collection that the Museum of Print and Drawing has been working on since German Unification in 1990. Drawings and prints – 5,500 of them, to be precise – of Schinkel’s drafts and studies of buildings, stage designs and furniture are all open to the public.
But not only are the drafts presented, but the results of those original ideas have also been captured. Furniture has been recreated from his master designs, including both individual pieces, as well as those in series. Others of his more opulent pieces have been provided by the Museum of Decorative Arts.
Beyond sketches, Schinkel supplied detailed craftsman drawings for the artisans, said Schulze Altcappenberg, 14 of which are on display. Alongside his piece titled Der Morgen (“The Morning”) hang sketches of the original compositions. In other drawings he gives detailed descriptions for the interior design of buildings – including wallpaper and shelving design – one of which is a draft for a marzipan company in the former Prussian capital of Königsberg.
One of the nine sections highlights the most important buildings of the city’s central district, Mitte, including a new large-scale model of the Altes Museum in addition to the original designs. An array of Schinkel’s stage productions can also be seen – a mechanical diagram from the burning of Moscow was reconstructed especially for the Berlin show. Exactly 200 years ago during Napoleon-occupied Berlin, the city was set on fire in a strategic military action by the Russian army to protest against the occupation of Moscow. A few months later, Schinkel staged the “burning of Moscow” in a diorama with moving scenes, lights and sound effects. Berlin audiences enthusiastically received the staging at the time.
The exhibition is scheduled to run through January 6, 2013in Berlin and then move to the Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung in Munich (Exhibition Gallery of the Hypo-Cultural Foundation) by February 1. Karl Friedrich Schinkel. History and Poetry is meant to be the grand finale of the Museum of Print and Drawing’s research project Shinkel’s Legacy. The project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has enabled the protection and conservation of 5,500 works of Schinkel. In November, the entire inventory will be available as an online catalog on the Internet.