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The MoMA in Berlin

It's happening: The MoMA in Berlin seems to be well on its way towards becoming the event of the year. After only six weeks running, the number of visitors has long since surpassed the six-figure mark, and more are pouring into the exhibition every day.

For Markus Falkner of the Berliner Morgenpost, the never-ending rush on the show in the New National Gallery was already worth a portrait in March: "The masterpieces of modern art are waiting inside, while hundreds of Berliners and tourists are waiting outside - in a great mood, despite the rainy weather." With waits requiring over an hour of patience, Falkner concluded that "the prospect of a unique art pleasure warms the chill - so it seems - from the inside." Ursula März from the Frankfurter Rundschau has also taken a closer look at the people in line and wrote that "everyone here seems actually very far away from the well-known disagreeable effects waiting normally brings." This is at least partly due to the sumptuous offers available to visitors right in front of the National Gallery: Café Einstein sells coffee directly to the people in line, while an array of flyers are passed around and postcards with motifs from the American photographer Berenice Abbott from the 1930s are sold.

Inside the New National Gallery, Holm Friebe from Dschungel World investigates the effects of the successful re-import of European avant-garde art from the 20th century. In view of the overwhelming rush of visitors and the "way in which the brand name MoMA penetrates the city" in a way previously unknown to Berlin, the suspicion quickly arises that "what's luring the people has less to do with the brand and the institution of New York's Museum of Modern Art." Instead, it's more the "wish to elevate the posters hanging on the wall at home, to say that one has seen the paintings 'in the original,' too." The only thing that's really amazing are the actual scales of the works, "which the reproduction doesn't deliver." On the other hand, Friebe is still pretty impressed by the radicalism of the disturbing painting Number 1 by Jackson Pollock: "this perhaps most important work of the exhibition can't be reproduced, it has to be seen in the original, and for this painting alone, the visit is well worth it."

Harald Kretzschmar of Neues Deutschland, on the other hand, questions the exhibition concept and recommends visitors to the MoMA in Berlin to "ignore the main idea of the catalogue, which is confusing." Instead, it's a matter of "searching for the interrelationships" while viewing the exhibition. In the end, it's the American painter Philip Guston that makes him reflect. His paintings "seem disturbing. The 'clean' canvases of post-minimalism, emptied artificially to the point of absolute nothingness, are replaced by newly discovered human substance." Guston's paintings tell stories, relate "his wife's brain surgery," as in the painting Head, or, as in City Limits, show a "vehicle occupied by Ku Klux Klan men, rumbling through an urban wasteland." His résumé: "Modernism was a flight from reality. Its 'Street Car Named Desire' - illness, resignation, and latent violence."

As another voice of the Frankfurter Rundschau, Johannes Wendland turns his attention to the contents of the MoMA exhibition's accompanying program. On the occasion of the four-part panel series Curating Modernity - Die Moderne kuratieren, a cooperation between the American Academy, The New National Gallery, and the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, he expects answers to the following question: "How do the collection and exhibition policies of institutions such as the MoMA influence art historical canonization?" The statements of the curators present, Ann Temkin of the Museum of Modern Art and Robert Rosenblum of New York's Guggenheim Museum, surprise him: "It's the curator's job to protect precisely art's indeterminacy and ambivalence. Art must never be underestimated, because it offers a statement to each viewer. The curator doesn't do any more than mediate." MM