A watercolor by Achim Freyer, visual designer of the LA Ring cycle, hangs in the current exhibit “The Art of Two Germanys: Art in Berlin during the Cold War.” The exhibit celebrates Berlin’s enormous pent-up, always-on-the-edge-of-violence mood during the Cold War period. Giant wall photos of anti-nuclear street protests at New York City’s Grand Central Station stand opposite gild-framed portraits of US President Ronald Reagan whose stone-wall demeanor is cordoned off with red ropes at the end of a long red Hollywood-style red carpet.
Freyer’s contribution to the museum exhibit is a large watercolor with several strips of solid sea blue (yes, solid watercolors!). The effect is similar to a small Rothko, an abstract expressionistic beauty based on subtle shadings of banded color, in this case the single color of light ocean blue. The title is “Seascape.”
The exhibit’s several rooms in the Broad building at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) features shocking moments too, easy reminders of Germany’s 20th-century tragedies. If you lived in Berlin during the Seventies, as this writer has, you will find much to ponder in the paintings that retrieve the memories of Rudi Dutschke, the Red Army Faction, the life of Turkish “guest workers,” etcetera.
Included in the exhibit is a wall-size Wagner-inspired painting by the noted Anselm Kiefer. Kiefer’s mead-hall vision in “Germany’s spiritual heroes” – has a lower border that is darkened by a flame that threatens to ignite the whole wooden structure. The name “Wagner” leads the list of names that include Goethe, Mechtild of Magdeburg, et al. Another Wagner-related painting “Brünnhilde Sleeps” by Anselm Kiefer is online at: http://tinyurl.com/Br-nnhilde-Sleeps
More about the exhibit at: www.tinyurl.com/freyer