During the ﬁrst half of the 20th century immense social and technological changes took place. Moreover, Europe found itself engaged in two world wars. A number of paintings in this room were conceived during this period. They were acquired in the 1950s by the director at that time, Edy de Wilde, to put the contemporary art in a historical context.
By getting to know work by such artists as Picasso, Braque, Chagall and Delaunay, who were already famous, the public would be better able to understand the art of their own age – that was the thinking. Today these paintings are among the classic works of modern art. They show how radically painting broke with tradition at the start of the last century in Paris. These are works that celebrate modern life and in which painters experimented with form and colour. In this information leaﬂet two of famous paintings in this room are discussed.
Just listen to me, sir. Herr Klamm is a gentleman from the Castle, and that in itself, without considering Klamm’s position there at all, means that he is of very high rank. But what are you, for whose marriage we are humbly considering here ways and means of getting permission? You are not from the Castle, you are not from the village, you aren’t anything.
Hören Sie, Herr Landvermesser! Her Klamm ist ein Herr aus dem Schloß, das bedeutet schon an und für sich, ganz abgesehen von Klamms sonstiger Stellung, einer sehr hohnen Rang. Was sind nun aber Sie, um dessen Heiratseinwilligung wir uns hier so demütig bewerben! Sie sind nicht aus dem Schloß, Sie sind nicht aus dem Dorfe, Sie sind nichts.
The Russian painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985) moved
to Paris in 1910. There he met a number of Cubist painters. They depicted their three-dimensional subjects in several aspects on the ﬂat picture plane. The inﬂuence of this ground-breaking movement in painting is evident in ‘Hommage à Apollinaire’ (19111912) in the way in which Chagall divides the ﬁgures and the circle form into fragments, before joining them together again in a new way. His admiration of the avant-garde art of his day is reﬂected in the title of this painting and the heart with the names. Apollinaire was a leading art critic and champion of the new art forms that evolved in Paris early in the twentieth century. Canudo, Cendrars and Walden are also people who helped to promote this contemporary art. But Chagall’s painting also has a deeper meaning. Man stands at the centre as the midpoint of time and space. The circle in ‘Hommage à Apollinaire’ can be thought of as a globe and also, because of the numbers, as a clock face. The personal aspiration of everyone must be to restore the original harmony between man and the universe, which was disrupted at the time of the Fall, symbolised here by the apple. The disintegration into opposites and the striving to reunite them is expressed by Chagall both thematically and formally.
Or rather, unfortunately, you are something, a stranger, a man who isn’t wanted and is in everybody’s way, a man who’s always causing trouble, a man who takes up the maid’s room, a man whose intentions are obscure, a man who has ruined our dear little Frieda and whom we must unfortunately accept as her husband. I don’t hold all that up against you. You are what you are, and I have seen enough in my lifetime to be able to face facts.
Leider aber sind Sie etwas, ein Fremder, einer, der überzählig und überall im Weg ist, einer, wegen dessen man immerfort Scherereien hat wegen dessen man die Mägde ausquartieren muß, einer, dessen Abschichten ubekannt sind, einer, der unsere liebste kleine Frieda verführt hat und dem man sie leider zur Frau geben muß. Wegen alles dessen mache ich Ihnen ja im Grunde keine Vorwürfe, Sie sind was Sie sind; ich habe in meinem leben schon zuviel gesehen, als daß ich nicht noch diesen Anblick ertragen sollte.
The French painter Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) was one of the advocates of Cubism. In ‘L’équipe de Cardiff’ (1913) he does not proceed from one main motif, but interweaves different motifs to produce a dynamic whole. Here again we see a circle that links the composition: the big wheel. Delaunay’s painting is based on a photo of the Cardiff rugby team in a French sporting magazine. He combines this motif with several new feats of technology of the time: the Eiffel Tower and the aeroplane. With his inscriptions he alludes to advertising signs. ASTRA was the name of an aircraft factory, but it is also Latin for ‘star’. The words MAGIC PARIS evoke the attractions of the French capital. All in all, the subject is very contemporary: Paris as a bustling city, full of new things and entertainment.
In this room, these and other paintings are combined with ‘The Castle’, a newly acquired work by Pavel Büchler (Prague, 1952). From a number of Marconi loudspeakers from the twenties we can hear fragments from ‘The Castle’ (1922) by Franz Kafka and other fragments can be seen on the windows of the adjacent room. By placing these works of Büchler in this context, paintings and literature complement each other in an unexpected way.
Listen. Mr Klamm is a gentleman. What are you? You are not from the castle / the village. You are a stranger. Hören sie. Herr Klamm ist aus dem Schloß. Was sind Sie? Sie sind nicht aus dem Schloß / dem Dorfe. Sie sind ein Fremder.