Bread and Golems

Six golem figures on a shelf

Souvenir shop in Prague, 2016; photo: Katharina Schmidt-Narischkin

They’re ubiquitous in Prague souvenir shops: clunky, mechanical golem figurines that owe their popularity to the 1951 film The Emperor and the Golem. The Czechoslovakian comedy classic, called Císařův pekař a pekařův císař in the original, was conceived by Martin Frič and Jiří Krejčík as a comedy of errors with political undertones. An irascible Emperor Rudolph II and his corrupt court are searching alternately for an elixir of youth and a recipe to turn lead into gold. But above all they want to find the legendary golem. This is the missing piece in the emperor’s cabinet of wonders and curiosities. On the search for the golem a brilliant switch takes place between Rudolf and his imperial baker, Matej. It’s an exchange from which both can profit in their different ways:  continue reading


Hannah Arendt—A New Look at a Discerning Political Analyst of Her Own Time

Cover of the special issue on Hannah Arendt of Philosophie Magazin“Something happened there to which we cannot reconcile ourselves. None of us ever can,” said Hannah Arendt with regard to Auschwitz and its repercussions during a now legendary TV interview with Günter Gaus. A two-minute excerpt from that encounter serves today in our permanent exhibition as introduction to a film installation concerning the Auschwitz Trial (cf. this blog entry about the reopening of that part of the exhibition in summer 2013).

In our exhibition of the work of Fred Stein in 2013/14 we presented photographs inter alia of the political theorist Arendt herself, as you can read in our blog and on the exhibition website.

Hannah Arendt is a major influence also on contemporary artists: Alex Martinis Roe, in the work she produced for our art vending machine, “A Letter to Deutsche Post,” demanded a re-issue of the postage stamps bearing Arendt’s portrait (cf. our interview with the artist in this blog). Also, a symposium held at our museum last December drew on the work of Hannah Arendt as a springboard for discussion of the current significance of pluralism in theory and practice (cf. the topics addressed there, as listed in our events calendar).

Philosophie Magazin has just devoted a special issue to this exceptional thinker. Titled Hannah Arendt. Die Freiheit des Denkens [Hannah Arendt. The Freedom of Thought], on the newsstands as of 16 June.  continue reading


Boris Lurie & Me

A Guest Entry by Rudij Bergmann

Accompanying our current exhibition, “No Compromises! The Art of Boris Lurie,” Rudij Bergmann’s film about the artist will premiere on 21 March 2016 (additional information available on our event calendar). In this guest entry, the filmmaker tells us how this very personal documentary came about.

Black-and-white photography of Rudij Bergmann with his iPhone

Rudij Bergmann in the Boris Lurie Art Foundation warehouse in New York
Photo: Benjamin Donath

The artist’s longing for Europe was palpable from the moment I first saw him in the dim light of an apartment hallway on New York’s 66th Street. Stepping into his home studio, confronted by this breathtaking collage of memory, it was immediately clear to me that Boris Lurie hadn’t fully left the concentration camps he survived with his father – at least mentally.

It was October 1996. A film for the television magazine BERGMANNsART, which I’m for all intents and purposes responsible for, was the reason to rush to see Lurie in New York. (The film, in German and with age restriction, is available on YouTube.)

It was the beginning of a long friendship.  continue reading