Berlin’s Botticellis, Rembrandts and Titians are at the center of a stormy debate as plans to take them out of the Gemaeldegalerie to make way for 20th-century art spark online petitions and furious newspaper columns.
Almost 7,000 people have signed one petition calling on Berlin to “reconsider the plan to empty the Gemaeldegalerie of Old Masters.” A June 28 column in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the plan threatened to “destroy one of the best museums in the world.” The move is “an act of barbarism,” said an opinion piece in Die Zeit, a weekly newspaper.
The petition is addressed to Hermann Parzinger, the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. He argues that the Old Masters will only be homeless temporarily, because Berlin plans to build a new museum in the Museum Island complex near the city’s central boulevard, Unter den Linden.
“The people signing the petitions are not getting the whole picture,” Parzinger said in an interview at his Berlin office. “For us, Museum Island is the German Louvre, and the most important medium is missing — painting. The goal is to find the best possible home, not just for the art of the 20th century, but also for the Old Masters.”
Encompassing more than 3,000 works spanning five centuries, Berlin’s collection of Old Masters is one of the world’s greatest. Its treasures include works by Raphael, Brueghel, Vermeer, Duerer and Caravaggio. Their impending move from the Potsdamer Platz Gemaeldegalerie was announced after the city acquired a private collection of 150 Surrealist paintings, sculptures and drawings from Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch.
With an estimated value of 150 million euros ($185 million), the Pietzsch collection includes works by Max Ernst, Rene Magritte and Joan Miro as well as American abstract expressionists such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. The Pietzsches made the gift on condition that it would be displayed in one of Berlin’s big museums.
Strange Random Art Quote:
“Well, art is art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh… now you tell me what you know.” ― Groucho Marx
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