Follow me on a small part of my adventures in Berlin and Potsdam as I check out some local museums for a few different types of inspiration.
I had the good fortune to be able to spend a couple weeks in Berlin, Germany during the last two weeks of December. When I am not able to create art I like to stay connected to my work and seek inspiration by viewing the works of other artists. My main focus is the art, but I always find myself observing other gallery patrons interactions with the artworks. What are they getting from their experience? What am I getting out of it? How would I want someone to interact with my art? It may be that Berlin in Winter might not attract international tourists, for I found that there were far fewer museum patrons taking selfies with the artworks, looking at their cell phones more than the art they paid to see, or displaying a disconcerting reliance on the audio guide. These are all behaviors I have encountered and that inspired “Self-Absorbed”, “Pale in Comparison,” and “Museum Patron #58” (2017).
Self-Absorbed?, Pale in Comparison, and Museum Patron #58 (2017). To check out more of my figurative or nude works find the link to that section at the bottom of each page.
It was cold and grey during most of my stay, which made the cafés and art museums even more enticing. There are an overwhelming number of art museums you can visit in Berlin. I chose to visit the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Gemäldegalerie, both containing a vast collection of paintings by European (but mainly German) artists. I also visited the Potsdam Museum: Forum für Kunst und Geschichte (forum for art and history) and the Museum Barberini during a side trip to nearby Potsdam.
Alte Museum and both the Potsdam and Barberini museums (almost side by side)...and me "creating" a masterpiece in the "kids" section with costumes and props available.
There were usually a few patrons who were photographing parts of the paintings in great detail and I wondered if they were painters themselves, striving to reproduce an inspirational image or flourish of paint. A few were examining works up close, reverse engineering the painting in their minds to discover the secrets to the process of its rendering. I found myself in with both of these groups. What I couldn’t actually see, but found to be true in my own mind, is the understanding that art is not created in a vacuum. Artists are a product of their time and inspired by the art of their peers and that of artists from the past. This was noticeably evident in all of the exhibits I visited. The realization that many of these artists lived and worked during the same time periods and similar geographic regions has led me to want to create a “connection wall” similar to those seen in police dramas, where photographs and other information is tacked up with strings between the connecting sources. The connections between art images and the artists themselves occurred repeatedly.
Johann Peter Hasenclever's "The Reading Room" (1843) and Vincent Van Gogh's "The Potato Eaters"(1885). Was Van Gogh influenced by this painting directly, or others of its type?
The Barberini museum in Potsdam was exhibiting the work of Henri-Edmond Cross. He was directly connected to and inspired by George Seurat, Charles Angrand, and Paul Signac. They were all working off each others ideas and experiments. The vibrant colors and thick brush work were reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh’s work and I wondered if any of the Neo-Impressionists knew of his work at the time- or if Van Gogh had been exposed to theirs. Upstairs in the permanent collection was a later piece by Expressionist artist Emil Nolde which stated that “The rapid thickly applied brush-strokes are reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh, who had a significant influence on Die Brücke (“The Bridge”) aritsts.”
Van Gogh's "Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun" (1889), Edmond Cross' "Landscape at Bormes" (1907), and Emil Nolde's Sunset (1907). Could Van Gogh have been an influence on both of these artists? What did they know of each other?
Looking at “bad” art convinces me that I am on a “right track.” Viewing amazingly good art challenges me to set a higher bar for myself. I am constantly pushed and pulled between the two, and somewhere in the mix the new ideas and methods start to sink in and emerge in my own work. The end result for me, as an artist, is that I am encouraged by my fellow artist who were, more that not, friends, acquaintances, teachers, students, and mentors to one another.
To purchase a reproduction of my various artwork visit my online store at https://society6.com/scottanstett
Scott Anstett is a American artist, teacher, and avid cyclist living in the Pacific Northwest.