Teddy bear that belonged to Ilse Jacobson (1920-2007), textile, straw, glass, ca. 1920 to 1930, in our online collection
56,250. This is the number that comes up when I search our collection’s database for its complete holdings. 56,250 data sets describing, for the most part, individual objects, and occasionally entire mixed lots. You can now see 6,300 of these objects online. Releasing this information to the public provokes mixed feelings on the part of museum staff: we have a lot to say about many of these objects. Many of them don’t speak for themselves. You can’t tell, for instance, that this teddy bear belonged to a child leaving Germany on a Kindertransport. The meaning of many documents and photographs lies likewise to a large extent in their biographical or political history. They require sufficient detail and well-chosen catchwords to help visitors find other objects related to the same topic.
With this project, we have to proceed pragmatically. 15-30 minutes of working time per object is a lot if you have to inventory a mixed lot with 250 units. We verify everything, including things that occur to us as we’re working. We are aware that there’s more to write about – and there would be more to correct, – if we had the time for more thorough research. Yet we can only make forays into the library or even into the archive for special projects or particularly important objects. And so we rely to a great extent on digital sources. Continue reading →
Fred Stein is a photographer whose work and biography leave no one unmoved. Some of his portraits are famous—those of Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt for example—yet Fred Stein himself is not a household name. The young lawyer was forced to flee Germany in 1933. He went first to Paris, and then in 1941 to New York. In these cities of exile he made photography his new profession, producing numerous street scenes and portraits.
“In An Instant” struck us as an apt title for the exhibition of his extensive oeuvre scheduled to open at the Jewish Museum Berlin on 22 November. This title highlights Fred Stein’s talent for capturing his subjects at the decisive moment, spontaneously, and without elaborate preparations—a natural talent, incidentally, for he was a self-taught amateur.
Fred Stein’s special gift of observation is evident in the photograph “Little Italy” (New York, 1943), one of our many favorites. Continue reading →
You can buy a wide variety of works of art from our art vending machine. One such piece is a postcard by Daniel Laufer (*1975, Hanover).
The card shows a film still from the video, “The Fourth Wall” (at 08:13 min). The story is based on an Hasidic parable about two men who are supposed to design one half of a house. While the first man does his work with zeal, the second delays, uninspired. The second man, who is certain that he won’t come up with a better idea than his rival, decides to coat his work with black bitumen. The material will reflect the other half of the house like a mirror. Thus he discovers a good solution to avoid defeat.
The film was shown this year at the 14th Videonale at the Bonn Art Museum.
In the following interview, Daniel Laufer talks about the genesis and message of his postcard.
Christiane Bauer: Daniel, you work mostly in video form. Yet you produced a postcard for the art vending machine. Why did you choose this format?
Daniel Laufer: A postcard is something mobile that you can take with you. It connects you to something: it provides information and contains a message. It can be a souvenir – but with a statement. And I also like the fact that you can hang it on the wall.
The original work of art is an entire film. Why did you choose this particular shot as a motif for the postcard?Continue reading →