Neue Nationalgalerie

The New National Gallery will reopen on 22 August 2021, our art writer Esther Harrison missed the exhibition as well as the glass main hall.

The New National Gallery will reopen on 22 August 2021, our art writer Esther Harrison missed the exhibition as well as the glass main hall.

We end our summer special on Berlin art institutions, how could we not, with the Neue Nationalgalerie. Oh, we have waited so long for the reopening. For six long years, the glazed cube, which is generally regarded as the last independent work (and only building in post-war Germany) by Mies van der Rohe and the legacy of the visionary 20th-century master builder, was closed for renovation.

And although the "Neue Galerie" in the Hamburger Bahnhof was opened in 2015 as an adequate alternative venue for major exhibitions such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in 2016 or, most recently, the highly attended and controversially discussed "Emil Nolde - A German Legend. The Artist in National Socialism", yet there always remained a bit of longing for the distinctive setting offered by the Neue Nationalgalerie.

The experience of walking across the reflecting floor tiles through the light-flooded, completely glazed monumental main hall with the view outside onto Potsdamer Strasse, sculptures of the respective exhibition in the corner of your eye - it is the impressive testimony to the idea of a universal space developed by Mies van der Rohe to be grasped with all the senses. It is not for nothing that the building, which opened in 1968 and functions as the Berlin National Gallery's Museum of 20th Century Art, is considered an absolute icon of classical modernism. 

For the long-awaited reopening on 22 August 2021, which has been postponed several times, a specially conceived solo exhibition by Alexander Calder and a solo exhibition by the artist Rosa Barber will be shown in the glass main hall, while the basement will celebrate the homecoming of the collection with 250 paintings and sculptures by Hannah Höch, Lotte Laserstein, Leonor Fini, Otto Dix, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Renée Sintenis, among others.

The exhibition reflects the major social processes and upheavals between 1900 and 1945: the Empire, the First World War, the so-called Golden Twenties of the Weimar Republic, the censorship of the avant-garde under National Socialism, the Second World War and the Holocaust. It's crazy to think about everything that happened in those 45 years and how much it shaped (not only) Germany. Until today.

Jump to the 1960s and to Alexander Calder (1898-1975), the American representative of kinetic art, whose outdoor sculpture "Têtes et Queue", which was erected for the opening of the New National Gallery (contemptuously referred to by critics at the time as the Station Hall), now returns to the spacious terrace.

Calder's objects on display in the main hall, many of which are movable, range from minimal in size to transcending space, as the name of the exhibition "Minimal / Maximal" suggests. In addition, there is a focus on the involvement of the visitors, yay!

With "In a Perpetual Now", the Berlin artist Rosa Barba has developed a construction that harmonises with the architecture of the Neue Nationalgalerie and follows the principle of a cinematic montage. It was also created within the framework of her new film, which she worked on on the occasion of the exhibition. She will show a total of 15 cinematic and sculptural works, including some central works of her oeuvre.

The crowds on the opening weekend will be GIGANTIC. We advise you to bring lots of patience, picnic stuff and good humour, as well as a lot of nonchalance, and to consider it a Berlin place to be and a happening, because that's what it will undoubtedly be. Bring it on Mies, we're ready!

Translated by Alexander Brandes

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