Sunday, August 3, 2008

Koln: Put an Umlaut Over the Only Vowel Available

This morning I woke up and thought, "I think I'll go to Germany today".
This is much easier than it may sound, for three reasons:
1). Eurail Pass
2). two hours and forty-five minute train ride to Cologne, Germany
3). no train reservations needed

So basically I show up and hop on the train, no money required.  Just me, my ipod, and my Eurail pass.  Golden.

Cologne is spelt Koln in German.  With an umlaut over the 'o'.  Because it's German like that.  The following two pictures are from the third story of a fantastic museum I visited.  One of the major sights in Cologne is the cathedral, called the Dom.  It houses what are believed to be the relics of the Three Magi.

Of course, these days I never seem to go anywhere without an ulterior motive.  The goal of today's visit was the Museum Ludwig.  Museum Ludwig is a large modern art museum, full of Pop Art (Warhol, Lichtenstein), one of the largest Picasso collections in Europe, and more Russian Suprematists works in one place than I've ever seen before.  But maybe that is because I've never been to Russia.

Note: I did not take this photo.  I took a day time one, but this night time one looks cooler: the Dom in the background behind the Museum Ludwig.  

One other museum I visited was the Wallraf-Richartz Museum.  I loved it.  I kept thinking that as I walked through it, "I love this museum."  The paintings were so well cared for, and whoever built the collection was a genius.  Exactly my taste in paintings.  Sometimes what I consider to be really fabulous museums are like that.  I also love the Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston because she put the same paintings and objects into her collection I would have chosen.  

Madonna in the Rose Bower, Stefan Lochner, 1448.  

This is the Wallraf-Richartz 'signature' piece.  Lochner was a local artist and this painting was commissioned by somebody (whom I think is unknown) in Cologne as a personal devotional, likely as part of a diptych.  Sadly, the second half, the half with the person and his/her patron saint, is lost.  You can make educated guesses as to whether something was part of a diptych/triptych/etc if you study the imagery (is is a fragment of a larger story, ie the Passion of the Christ?), other extant examples (so what did personal devotional icons from 15th-century Cologne look like?), and the physical characteristics of the piece itself (joinery, tool marks, is the verso painted?).  

This is what you learn in conservation graduate school.  How to look closely.

There is a great river walk down by the Rhine, and I got an ice cream and walked along it.  Today was a rainy horrid day in Amsterdam (so Louise tells me), but in Germany it was beautiful!

The Rhine.

The river walk extends onto this bridge.  The bridge is also like seven lanes of train tracks heading directly to the station, and huge trains are crossing it every five minutes.  Despite how it sounds, this is not distracting or annoying in the least.

Looking back toward the center of the town.

1 comment:

Ynn said...

We passed through Koln (with an umlaut over the only vowel) on our way to St. Goar. From the train window it looked like any big industrial area. I didn't realize it was so charming. The Dom is beautiful and the museum collection (not the Ludwig) sounds like just Frank's style/