Posted on Feb 2, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

On February 1, it was time to say goodbye to my friend G. We had a great time. I took her to Tegel airport and we had a light-hearted goodbye, because I will be back in Vancouver myself in just two weeks. We know we will see each other back home soon.

G. had seen a poster on the way to the airport announcing a showing of art by women of the Berlin Secession. I had not even heard of the Berlin Secession, so as I was taking the train back into Berlin, I googled it as well as the exhibit and found out it was at the Max Liebermann Villa in Berlin-Wannsee. I went to my Berlin public transit iPhone app which has been a fantastic tool for me here and quickly found the quickest train out there. Before I knew it, I was in Wannsee. Hurray for spontaneity!

The sad story of Max Liebermann is that his art was considered degenerate by the Nazis, he was forced from his official duties late in life, and he died in 1937, deprived of a dignified old age. After his death, in 1940, his widow had to sign over her home to the Nazis. In 1943, as she lay bedridden from a stroke, a letter arrived announcing her imminent deportation to a concentration camp the next day. She took an overdose of pills and died a few days later. It’s one of many tragic human stories of that time.

I felt a great sadness as I walked around this beautiful villa by the lake and thought of the many crimes against humanity committed not only by Nazis but around the world every day. There has got to be a small thing everyone of us can do to not let these things happen anymore. Maybe we can start by allowing the people around us to be themselves and not try to force our beliefs on them, be it a religious belief or the belief that you must not leave a pair of dirty socks on the floor for even an hour. We can also start by allowing ourselves to be ourselves and not be swayed by the opinions of others.

Later in the evening, I did some work and then cleaned the apartment because my cousin V. is arriving from Cologne early in the morning on February 2!

Berlin construction

There is still a lot of construction going on in Berlin.

Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin.

Train station signage typography, Berlin-Wannsee

Train station signage typography, Berlin-Wannsee.

Wannsee, Berlin

Wannsee, Berlin. A very 50s-looking shopping strip.

Max Liebermann Villa, Berlin-Wannsee

Max Liebermann Villa, Berlin-Wannsee.

Study by Clara Sievert

A study by Clara Sievert. I know a bit about drawing, and this is just an amazing sketch. The hands and the expression look convincing, the billowing skirt, the shadows, the weight of the whole pose are fantastic.

Dora Hitz painting

“Grape Harvest” by Dora Hitz, 1910. Since I did not know anything about the Berlin Secession, I also did not know about the women of the Berlin secession. I was glad to see that women were included, anyway. As the brochure explained, women in Germany in the late 19th century were not allowed to attend universities. So female artists had to go to private “schools for ladies” to learn what they needed. It follows that men were the only ones teaching the women at these schools. So it would have been difficult for women to find role models of their own gender. A problem that is more common than you’d think, even today.

Max Liebermann Villa, Berlin-Wannsee

The lake view from the Max Liebermann Villa, Berlin-Wannsee.