Archive: Germany
Monument on notorious Nazi book-burning location

Monument on notorious Nazi book-burning location

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- Roman März 1
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: Roman März

In the 1930s and 1940s in Nazi Germany, the government banned thousands of books which had been written by authors of Jewish descent or writers that had previously shown communist or pacifist alliances. Decades later, a monument has been created to commemorate the censored books under the guidance of Argentine artist Marta Minujin. The monument is designed to look like the full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, which has become one of the world’s most visited monuments.

The enormous sculpture is situated in Germany and was created entirely out of censored contemporary books. The symbolism of the monument is striking as it was created to contrast political repressions. The monument was also created to symbolize the aesthetic and political ideal of the world’s first democracy which was situated in Greece.

The Parthenon of Books was created as part of the documenta art festival in Kassel, Germany, which is now in its 14th year this year. The documenta was first established in 1955 in a bid to support German contemporary artists, who were often unable to create art as a result of restrictive Nazi policies. Minujin used a total 100,000 books to create the monument.

The novels and books used to complete the Parthenon were secured to the steel structure using plastic sheeting, which protects them from the natural elements while allowing natural sunlight to filter through the massive building. The monument is located on the same site where thousands of books were burned in the Nazi inspired campaign; therefore, the site has a lot of significance for the locals of the city of Kassel as well as for everyone that was affected by the Nazi Campaign.

Although a lot of work has gone into the creation of the monument, the exhibition is only temporary and will last through September. When the exhibition comes to a close, the books will be taken down after which they will be distributed all over the world. So far, the Parthenon of Books has been received well by both locals and the contemporary art community.

The 74-year-old Argentinean artist was central to the creation of the monument; however, she received help from students from Kassel University. The project started with 170 books; but after a public appeal the artists received donations, which resulted in the gathering of 100,000 copies, which were incorporated into the monument. Some of the books included in the collection include Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and much more.

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- Roman März
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: Roman März

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- Roman März
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: Roman März

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- Roman März
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: Roman März

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- dpa
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: dpa

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo AP Photo-Jens Mayer-
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: AP / Jens Mayer

Marta Minujín - Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, 3
Marta Minujin – Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany

Marta Minujín - Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, 1
Marta Minujin – Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany

Marta Minujín - Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, 2Marta Minujin – Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany


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McDonald’s did not pay for this mural

McDonald’s did not pay for this mural

Brad Downey - I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany 5
Brad DowneyI’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Brad Downey has consolidated a reputation for himself in the street art community as an artist who has a flair for navigating gray areas in the society. His work in public is an expert combination of culture and sensationalism, which are both presented and partnered with media friendly and pop culture acceptable imagery.

Case in point, Brad Downey’s McDonald’s mural proves that art is made up of more than the audience’s understanding of subject or object included in the art; it is an idea that lives, grows and mutates in the audience’s imagination. As a result of his unique perspective on art, the McDonalds’s mural received a lot of attention partly because it did not contain any humoristic slogans or any disruption by rats, as is common with other well-known street artists. The piece was also not intended to be a McDonald advertisement; this commercial mural was created ironically and was anticipated to serve as a radical and controversial piece for the urban art rebel.

Downey created the McDonald mural at a time when the University of Leuphana (where the mural was created), was undergoing a rebranding process. The branding strategy adopted by the university was intended to raise school fees, which made the students unhappy. In response to the rebranding, Downey created the mural to address the issue. Downey’s mural is the perfect example of how street art can help to manipulate the reality of the situation as a way of passing across a message and generating interest.

Downey selected the McDonalds logo, not because it had anything to do with the worldwide chain of restaurants, but because he wanted a logo that evoked power. According to Downey, any logo would have served the purpose, but McDonalds’ seemed to be a great fit. By using the well-known brand, audiences were forced to look beneath the surface to really get the message in the work. The McDonalds piece was received by the student body of the university well and even inspired some of the students to address the issue through various different mediums such as film.

Brad Downey - I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Brad DowneyI’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Brad Downey - I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Brad DowneyI’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Brad Downey - I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Brad DowneyI’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Brad Downey - I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Brad DowneyI’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany


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Thai artist fails miserably, or did he not?

Thai artist fails miserably, or did he not?

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

In 2007 Thai artist Sakarin Krue-On attempted to transform the park in front of a castle in Kassel, Germany into a 3.600sqm terraced rice field. For this project Krue-On and his Thai team tried to dispense the use of machines as much as possible, while relying on traditional methods, using simple devices such as spades, forks and hooks.

The clash of cultures, impressively shown through the contrast of the Wilhelmshöhe Castle and the field, is a key element of this work: On the one hand the majestic piece of European architecture, symbolizing status and power, embodying Western provenance, and right beneath, Thai workers using ancient methods to cultivate rice fields. Terraced Rice Field can also be seen as a representation of growth and collaboration. Pulling off documenta 12’s biggest work, an art event which drew 754,000 paying visitors, required an immense amount of negotiation and communication, in which different working methods met in the planning process. This is another major component of the artwork: Collective cooperation in which traditional knowledge meets scientific expertise.

This site-specific project was the first time that wet rice open air terraces were cultivated in outside fields in Germany. Unfortunately, the majority of the terraces couldn’t hold the water; regardless of what amount got added, it kept trickling away, and the work on project ultimately got stopped due to security concerns. However, more importantly than successfully growing crops, Krue-On managed to bring together people from all walks to life, transcending barriers by working next to each other.

Kassel Schloss Wilhelmshoehe photo dontworry
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on - Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12 9
Sakarin Krue-On with photo of Terraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007


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Colorful artworks: Designed to be walked over

Colorful artworks: Designed to be walked over

Joan Miró - 1970, earthenware, 10x50m, Terminal B, El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain detail
Joan MiróWall of the Barcelona Airport (detail), 1970, earthenware, 10x50m, Terminal B, El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain

If you have ever been to Barcelona, you must have walked over one of Joan Miro’s mosaics. The artist began to publicly display his work in 1976 when he chose the centre of Barcelona’s Rambla to permanently incorporate his work into a pavement. This was in fulfilment of a pledge he had made in 1968 to create four pieces of art which he would donate to the city of Barcelona where he was born. The use of different colors in the mosaic brings out the vibrancy that is his style of art. All the artwork that is associated with Joan Miró speaks the language of simplicity; generous use of color and simple shapes. More than four decades after his first outdoor work of art, the works of Joan Miró located in various parts of the world are enjoying facelifts of massive proportions.

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Beautiful sculptures made entirely from soap

Beautiful sculptures made entirely from soap

Meekyoung Shin - Crouching Aphrodite, 2002
Meekyoung ShinCrouching Aphrodite, 2002

Meekyoung Shin, a South Korean sculptor, became popular for her Translation series, using soap as her medium of art. Trained in the tradition of European sculpture, her statuettes are made factoring in the Western and Eastern style of relief. Her works are usually made from palm oil, a vegetarian soap.

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Immaculate larger than life sculptures as sanctified haven

Immaculate larger than life sculptures as sanctified haven

Jaume Plensa - Paula, 2013, Bronze, 179 x 63 x 63 cm, Toledo Museum of Art, 2016, Photo The Blade:Andy Morrison

Jaume Plensa
Jaume Plensa

Jaume Plensa is arguably one of the top sculptors today. He is largely known for creating huge-sized ethereal sculptures, and has also worked with different other types of contemporary art media, including from acoustic installations to video projections.

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Complete castle covered with photorealistic print

Complete castle covered with photorealistic print

Bettina Pousttchi - The City, 2014
Bettina Pousttchi – The City, 2014, photo installation, facade of Wolfsburg Castle, photo by Norbert Miguletz

Bettina Pousttchi is a German-Iranian artist, living and working in Berlin. She works equally in the field of media, photography, video and sculpture, often involving architecture in urban and historical contexts. Her exhibition at the Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg is a site-specific photo installation called “The City”: an artwork covering the façade of the city’s castle. This work is a reference to the history of the 20th century planned city Wolfsburg.

Working on architecture about architecture allows for an artistic practice between architecture, sculpture, and photography. It is a different way to materialize a photographic file and to bring back the digital to the physical world.

Castle of Wolfsburg
The northern wing of the castle before the renovation (photo by Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg)

Bettina Pousttchi - The City, 2014
Bettina Pousttchi – The City, 2014, photo installation, facade of Wolfsburg Castle, photo by Norbert Miguletz

Bettina Pousttchi - The City, 2014
Bettina Pousttchi – The City, 2014, photo installation, facade of Wolfsburg Castle, photo by Norbert Miguletz

Bettina Pousttchi - The City, 2014
Bettina Pousttchi – The City, 2014, photo installation, facade of Wolfsburg Castle, photo by Norbert Miguletz

Bettina Pousttchi - The City, 2014
Bettina Pousttchi – The City, 2014, photo installation, facade of Wolfsburg Castle, photo by Norbert Miguletz


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