Thursday, August 31, 2006

Australian filmmaker leads festival

Just one more sleep till Australian filmmaker Richard Moore sets sail in his new post as director of the Melbourne International Film Festival, taking the helm from the well-respected James Hewison, who moves up as CEO of the Australian Film Institute. I'm posting this today, because it's almost tomorrow in Australia. First port of call for Richard: Toronto, where the fall film festival season kicks off next week. Earlier this year, Richard reached agreement with Film Victoria to begin development of his latest project, THE FOUNDATION, a mock documentary celebrating the life and art of the fictitious character Johann Dieter Wassmann. We look forward to his next visit to Leipzig and do hope he has a chance to include the Leipzig International Documentary Festival among his many travels (30 October - 5 November 2006; see link).

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Château Bagatelle

Having survived the onslaught of geeks and gamers this past week with the Leipzig Games Convention 2006 blowing through town (see link on Europe's largest games gathering), I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on the 18th century roots of the 'sport'. Château Bagatelle, or just plain bagatelle as it's better known, originated in the court of Louis XVI, when a billiard table was narrowed and placed on an incline. Players shot ivory balls with pool cues at standing pins, but the pins proved difficult to reset on a slant, so they were soon replaced with holes. Obstacles were later added, the table downsized and a spring handle fixed, creating the better known 19th century version of bagatelle. In the 20th century, the table was electrified and renamed pinball. Then came Pacman and the rest is history. Pictured is a bagatelle game Johann Dieter Wassmann constructed in 1888 to honour his children, Ilsabein and Samuel, titled GUARDIAN ANGEL. It measures 66 x45 x 6 cm. After considerable research and labour by conservation staff (and a little sewing machine oil), the game has returned to fine working order.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dada: Paris, D.C., New York

After 12 months on the road, the much-heralded DADA exhibition comes to a close two weeks from today at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. If you haven't seen it yet, book your flight, leave your carry-on luggage behind and hussle down to West 53rd Street. I was lucky enough to see it this spring amid the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., when I visited Jeff Wassmann and his hard-working staff at The Wassmann Foundation. For all that's been said about the show, the last word goes to Charles Simic, writing in the current edition of The New York Review of Books (see link below). "In the end, the poets and the painters went their separate ways. Or rather, the artists continued doing what they had been doing all along. A distinct Paris Dada style never emerged. Man Ray's flat iron with a row of tacks glued on the bottom, his metronome with a cutout photograph of an eye on a pendulum, Duchamp's Mona Lisa with a mustache and a goatee, or Ernst's oil-on-wood construction Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale could have been done anywhere. Dada's genius was that it refused to define itself and become an art movement in an era of proliferating avant-gardes. All that its artists had in common were a few ideas about going beyond pictorial conventions, freeing art of its history in order to discover it elsewhere, as well as a sense of humor. That made all the difference—what Harold Rosenberg called 'comical questioning of appearances.' One only has to watch films like René Clair and Francis Picabia's Entr'acte, which are part of the MoMA show, to realize that their patron saint was that other mad twentieth-century inventor of visual gags, Buster Keaton. The joy of seeing this exhibition is the discovery of little-known works of art, which once were not supposed to be art, but which now look marvelously ingenious, well-made, and even beautiful." Sound like anyone we know? (exhibition catalogue cover above, Leah Dickerman, DADA. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2005.)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Architects need only apply

We showed you the exterior of the future MuseumZeitraum Leipzig on our August 24 post. Well here's a first look at the interior, as we begin Stage 1 on the challenging road ahead toward our July 2008 opening. Most recently a boarding house, the building dates from 1889, boasting a long and colourful history. With funds to raise and a whole collection to move from Washington, D.C., we have our work cut out for us before adding a further leaf to that architectural narrative.

A birthday for Man Ray

A birthday post to honour artist Man Ray, born Emmanuel Radnitzky, on the South Side of Philadelphia, August 27, 1890. Monsieur Ray died 30 years ago this November in Montparnasse at the age of 86.
Photo by Carl Van Vechten 1934, courtesy The Library of Congress.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A moment to reflect

MuseumZeitraum Leipzig would like to take a moment to reflect on our very dear friend, patron, inspiration and mentor, Ernst Zacher, who passed away 12 months ago today. From the Swabian shores of the blue Danube, to the markets of Paris, to the far-away shores of Australia, he is loved, missed and remembered.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The poetry of Johann Dieter Wassmann

Many thanks to Blue Tea for her very kind August 18th post. For a tour of her 11 must-see museums, including our sister institution, The Wassmann Foundation, have a look at the link below. Here's what she has to say: "Johann Dieter Wassmann is a wonderful and engrossing artist I'm ashamed never to have heard of before discovering The Wassmann Foundation, located in Washington. D.C. I adore his boxed works, assemblages of objects, drawings, text, paintings, and diagrams placed inside compartmentalized wooden frames. They're unusual, meticulous, and beautiful, a graceful blend of science, art, craft, and poem." We couldn't agree with you more Bluewyvern. Many thanks again. Image: Johann Dieter Wassmann, VORWARTS! 1897. 575 x 310 x 95 mm.

Summer in Leipzig

While we're still enjoying the warm rays of summer, and with a forecast of a fine weekend, I just wanted to share with you the English engraver Carington Bowles' charming "City of Leipzig", circa 1780. That's Thomaskirche in the center, built in 1212, notable for its organist of 27 years, Johann Sebastian Bach. Second from the right is Nikolaikirche, built in 1165, most recently distinguished for its role as home to the peaceful revolution that led to the collapse of the GDR in 1989. The church still holds its moving 'Swords to Ploughshares' services every Monday at 5pm.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Museum finds a home

MuseumZeitraum Leipzig is pleased to announce an agreement has been reached with city officials to provide a building in Leipzig's Thouberg district to house the art works of Johann Dieter Wassmann (1841-1898). The works are currently on display at the Wassmann Foundation, Washington, D.C. Museum officials have, for the past two years, been negotiating with the director of the Wassmann Foundation, Mr. Jeffrey Wassmann, for the repatriation of the works to Germany. The new museum will be located little more than half a kilometer from the birthplace of the artist. Museum Zeitraum is commited to raising €10m through the Zeitraum Challenge to provide capital funding for the building's renovation and initial operating expenses.

Johann Dieter Wassmann's vast oeuvre of photographs and boxed assemblage works are now acknowledged as a key link in the birth of European Modernism. As a predecessor to such innovative artists as Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Höch, Sophie Taeuber, George Grosz, Max Ernst, Raoul Hausmann, Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell, the return of these works to Germany will mark a significant step forward toward our understanding of the early modernist movement.