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A Hidden Gem For Picasso Lovers Reopens Better Than Ever In Berlin

Worldcrunch's cubist impression of Berlin's Berggruen Museum
Worldcrunch's cubist impression of Berlin's Berggruen Museum
Hans-Joachim Müller

BERLIN - There are impressive museum collections – indeed entire museums – of works by Pablo Picasso: in Malaga and New York, Paris and Barcelona, Münster, Madrid, Basel and Cologne.

The best one? Berlin – part of the legendary collection of art dealer Heinz Berggruen (1914-2007) housed since 1996 in a palazzo-style building across from Schloss Charlottenburg royal palace.

Berggruen’s collection doesn’t only comprise top-class work by Picasso, but other classical modern artists – Cézanne, Braque, Matisse, Klee and Giacometti – as well. In 2000 when the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, encompassing Berlin’s state-run museums and other cultural entities bought the priceless collection for the “symbolic” sum of 130 million euros, the Berggruen Museum became one of Berlin’s most attractive cultural addresses right up there with the city’s Museum Island.

Picasso's "Dora Maar With Green Fingernails - Berggruen Museum

Since the summer of 2011, the museum has been closed for expansion and restoration – and although the Berlin architectural firm of Kuehn Malvezzi has added 10 new rooms by joining the existing building to the one next door in a federally funded, 6.5 millio euro project, the sense of intimacy that helped make a visit to the Berggruen collection so memorable in the past has not been lost.

The 20-meter-long steel-and-glass pergola that links the two buildings offers a view of the new sculpture garden, and the additional space inside means that the 250 art works could be re-hung in a way that brings out their full intensity.

The original building is now exclusively devoted to Picasso. Berggruen’s Picassos reflect his collector’s passion and are rounded out by loans from Berggruen family holdings. The collection offers a wide-rangng number of works that include paintings but also works on paper, prints and sculptures. The selection takes us from the young artist’s realism though his Blue and Rose periods, analytic and synthetic Cubism, the surrealism of the 1930s and 1940s, then through to the trials of strength of his old age – the Spanish artist kept producing until he died at the age of 92 in 1973.

A jubilant array

All the artist’s favorite subjects are represented: the circus folks and the poor he painted in his bohemian phase in Paris in the early 1900s; the array of women – bathers, mothers, lovers, reclining models and sleeping nudes – painted over the years; the Cubist still lifes, experiments in taking apart and reassembling; the characters from Greek and Roman mythology; the masks of the artist as an old man.

But if the collection covers all phases of the artist’s production, it does not pay the same amount of attention to each: Berggruen the art dealer, collector and friend of the artist’s was less at home with the aggressive Picasso than he was with the lyrical Picasso.

The result is that some Picasso connoisseurs may find things missing here and there – perhaps some monumental dancers on the beach from the 1920s, bitter emblematic figures from the Guernica period, or wild and defiant late work. But what are a few lapses in the face of such a jubilant array? Just taking in a drawing like ""Dora Maar with Her Hair Loose,"" that Berggruen bought at a Paris auction in 1998 for $994,000, is a huge art experience.

Moving on to the new part of the museum and to the delicately poetic work of Paul Klee (1879-1940) is like changing worlds. The 60 small-format works by the Swiss artist are the second focal point of a collection also renowned for its bronzes by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), including his famous Cat; joyful vibrant color cutouts by French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954); and several portraits and a study of an apple by Paul Cézanne (1839-1906).

Heinz Berggruen was born in Berlin to a Jewish family, and fled the Nazis in 1936. He returned to Berlin in 1996 – bringing his art collection with him in what the New York Times in its obituary of Berggruen called a “powerful gesture of reconciliation.” – and is buried there.

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The Olympic torch is lit at the Archaeological site of Olympia in Greece.

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Asham!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Pyongyang test fires a suspected submarine-launched missile, Colin Powell is remembered, Poland-EU tensions rise, and yay (or yeesh): it's officially Ye. Meanwhile, our latest edition of Work → In Progress takes the pulse of the new professional demands in a recovering economy.

[*Oromo - Ethiopia and Kenya]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• North Korea fires missile off Japan coast: South Korea military reports that North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into the waters off the coast of Japan. The rocket, thought to have been launched from a submarine, is the latest test in a series of provocations in recent weeks.

• Poland/EU tensions: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has accused the EU of "blackmail" and said the European Union is overstepping its powers, in a heated debate with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over the rule of law. The escalation comes in the wake of a controversial ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that puts national laws over EU principles.

• Colin Powell remembered: Tributes are pouring for former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, after his death yesterday at age 84. Although fully vaccinated, Powell died from complications from COVID-19 as he was battling blood cancer. A trailblazing soldier, he then helped shape U.S. foreign policy, as national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and served as the nation's top diplomat for George W. Bush. Powell's legacy is, by his own admission, "blotted" by his faulty claims of weapons of mass destruction to justify the U.S. war in Iraq.

• Russia to suspend NATO diplomatic mission amid tension: Russia is suspending its diplomatic mission to NATO and closing the alliance's offices in Moscow as relations with the Western military block have plunged to a new low. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the move after NATO expelled eight diplomats from Russia's mission for alleged spying. Relations between NATO and Russia have been strained since Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

• Ecuador state of emergency to battle drug crime: President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency amid Ecuador's surge in drug-related violence. He announced the mobilization of police and the military to patrol the streets, provide security, and confront drug trafficking and other crimes.

• Taliban agrees to house-to-house polio vaccine drive: The WHO and Unicef campaign will resume nationwide polio vaccinations after more than three years, as the new Taliban government agreed to support the campaign and to allow women to participate as frontline health workers. Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are the last countries in the world with endemic polio, an incurable and infectious disease

• Kanye West officially changes name: Some say yay, some say yeesh, but it's official: The-artist-formerly-known-as-Kanye-West has legally changed his name to Ye, citing "personal reasons."

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

The Washington Post pays tribute to Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. Secretary of State, who died at 84 years old from complications from COVID-19.


💬  LEXICON

Jashn-e Riwaaz

Indian retailer Fabindia's naming its new collection Jashn-e Riwaaz, an Urdu term meaning "celebration of tradition," has been met with severe backlash and calls for boycott from right-wing Hindu groups. They are accusing the brand of false appropriation by promoting a collection of clothes designed for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, but giving it a name in Urdu, a language spoken by many Muslims.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Work → In Progress: Where have all the workers gone?

After the economic slowdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, companies all over the world are taking advantage of loosened lockdowns and progress on the vaccine front to ramp up operations and make up for lost productivity. But the frenetic spurts of the recovery are getting serious pushback. This edition of Work → In Progress looks not only at the coming changes in our post-COVID economy, but also the ways our world is re-evaluating professional obligations.

🗓️ Hail the 4-day week Across the planet, the shorter work week trend is spreading like wildfire. Four is the new five. Spain began experimenting with the concept earlier this year. New Zealand launched a similar trial run in 2020. And in Iceland, efforts to curb working hours date all the way back to 2015, with significant results: 86% of the country's workforce gained the right to reduce work hours with no change in pay.

🚚 Empty seats In the United States, meanwhile, a severe lack of truck drivers has the country's transportation industry looking to hire from abroad. The only problem is … the shortage is happening worldwide, in part because of the e-commerce boom in the wake of worldwide quarantines. The Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano reports that companies will be scrambling to fill the jobs of 17,000 truck drivers in the next two years. The article blames low wages and the dangerous nature of the job, stating that Italian companies are making moves to employ foreign workers.

💼 Key help wanted It's all well and good to question current working conditions. But what about 20 years from now? Will we be working at all? A recent article in the French daily Les Echos posed just that question, and posits that by 2041 — and with the exception of a few select jobs — automation and digitalization will decimate employment. The piece refers to the lucky few as "essential workers," a concept that originated with COVID lockdowns when almost all labor halted and only a minority of workers capable of performing society's most crucial in-person tasks were allowed to carry on.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

I'm worried for my Afghan sisters.

— Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai Nobel Prize tells the BBC that despite the Taliban's announcement that they would soon lift the ban on girls' education in Afghanistan, she worries it "might last for years."

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Are you more yay or yeesh about the artist currently known as Ye? Let us know how the news look in your corner of the world — drop us a note at info@worldcrunch.com!

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