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October 14, 2006

Like One That Had Been Led Astray Through the Heaven’s Wide Pathless Way

Been to the Nationalgallerie to see an exhibition about melancholy in the arts. I increasingly dislike these exhibitions centered around a concept; nothing worse than a pack of curators who think they have had an idea. For this occasion, they assembled a lot of nice pictures (Dürer, Goya, C. D. Friedrich, Munch, Warhol, Anselm Kiefer) and a lot of intriguing objects (astrolabes, antique tombstones, 19th century photos of depressive patients, ancient books on the four humours, narwhal tusks), but the blur of heterogeneous stuff you constantly have to switch between just turns everything into cliché. Everything drowns everything else out, and in the general clamor you only hear the shrillest voices. The effect is enhanced if the curators see fit to install loudspeakers and force an exhibition soundtrack on you that is apparently supposed to get everybody into the mood. In this particular case, there was a corner where they had Beethoven's "Malinconia" on continuous play. At least, you only had to endure it in the four adjoining rooms. Anyway, I think a Munch exhibition or a Goya exhibition would have been cheaper and better. As it was, the Munch paintings might as well have been posters, because you couldn't really focus on them anyway, in all the Wunderkammer commotion.


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