Monday, November 27, 2006

My Weimar weekend

Johann Dieter Wassmann, GOETHEHAUS, WEIMAR, 1894.
Albumen silver print, 18 x 23 cm, WF 736004.

The weekend saw a trip to Weimar, where I celebrated an American Thanksgiving (two days late) with senior staff from The Wassmann Foundation, including director Jeff Wassmann, at the city’s celebrated Hotel Elephant. Despite its role as the epicenter of German Enlightment, Weimar remains as intimate and cozy as it must have been then, all the more so in autumn.

The highlight for me, however, was a short stroll over to the grounds of the first Bauhaus School, originally designed as the School of Arts and Crafts by Henry van de Velde in 1907. A nephew of Johann Dieter Wassmann was one of the carpenters responsible for the iconic spiral staircase in what is now the College of Architecture, Building and Construction. This central building, recently renovated to its early glory, always guarantees me goose bumps, as a life-long student of modernism.

No less inspiring was my pilgrimage to Goethe’s home, now a museum, pictured here in a photograph by Johann in 1894. Unfortunately, the Nietzsche Archives was closed when we popped by, but the stunning Art Nouveau building was worth a peak through the gate all the same.

The good news is that I can report we appear one step closer to completing a repatriation agreement with the Wassmann Foundation, bringing the works of Johann Dieter Wassmann long-last home to Leipzig. Stay tuned…

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