Sunday, May 20, 2012

Surrealistic Art

On Friday John and I had the pleasure of visiting the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg collection of Surrealist art, housed in the revamped stables of the Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace) across the street.
It's another treasure of the State collections in Berlin, based on the private collection of an insurance tycoon, Otto Gerstenberg.
The central staircase of the main building is itself a surrealistic experience.
The collection includes French Romantic precursors of the 20th century Surrealists like this gorgeous ink drawing, Evocation of an Island, by Victor Hugo,
Georges Seurat's The Embroiderer
 and this print from Edouard Manet's series The Raven, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's poem.
It also features early works by famous Surrealists, like Paul Klee. This is his Park Path, with the Long Man and the Dog (1907)
as well as his more familiar, mature work.
 and this early piece by Rene Magritte, Untitled (1926).
All the big Surrealists like Hans Bellmer are present. Here's his erotic and disturbing La Poupee (1936)
and Self-Portrait (1942).
Untitled (1940), a lovely watercolour by Wols.
Sky Clouds Over (1955) and Red Cow (1943) by Jean Dubuffet.
It was fun to see Pablo Picasso included as a Surrealist
but we certainly loved this line drawing, Untitled (1933) by the master. Did I mention that many of the works in the collection are drawings and prints?
Here is a view of one of the typically intimate galleries. This one is dedicated to the sculpture of Henri Laurens.
Here's his The Wave (1933) . That's the Schloss Charlottenburg across the street glimpsed through the window.
John loved his Little Spanish Woman (1954) in the same room.
The collection ends with precursors of Surrealism on the ground floor 
in what was probably the actual stables. Again a very surreal setting.
There we found fabulous pastels by Odilon Redon 
like Rogier et Angelique (1910)
and a room of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's strange architectural fantasies.
Perhaps the oddest display is the Kalabsha Gate (Egyptian, c. 20 BC) of which John took this detail of hieroglyphics. The gate is on loan from the Pergamon Museum but somehow fits into the Surrealistic theme here.
At last we took our leave of the collection into the contemporary addition to the museum
to visit the bookshop and have a drink in the light-filled cafe.


  1. What a beautiful space & wonderful collection.

  2. It was dreamy, Shelley, and chuck full of artwork that had a strong influence on me in my youth. And how about that circular staircase!