Sunday Music

Sunday Music, on a Tuesday

“Ta-ta” you may say, venerated reader, “this guy isn’t even able to blog regularly at one day a week, ta-tah.”
And of course Your criticism would be absolutely valid & justified.
But I may say that the weekend that was, in fact was not a “weekend” with days of rest and laziness, sleep and recreation.
In fact I had additional driving duties on Saturday, and spent Sunday travelling from the early hours of the wonderful morning to late afternoon visiting a rural festivity in Middle Franconia.
I blame the sweltering heat for my difficulties with night’s sleep, what is surely no excuse for the fact that I slept in this morning, the first time in three years. I heard the alarm clock, held it in my hand, and saw the large finger pointing upwards. When I looked again, the large finger hadn’t barely moved, and I got up, went to the kitchen to prepare a cup of coffee. Suddenly I asked myself towards what number the small finger would be pointing, the five or the six ? The six of course, so the coffee had to wait, as had my co-driver who phoned in punctually when I was already marching through the street to the vehicle that I found thankfully parked at the usual spot.
An exciting life I unfurl in front of Your eyebeam, dear reader.
Also exciting, at least for me, is the early baroque music of the Venetian Dario CASTELLO (ca. 1590 – ca. 1658) (Ger., Eng.). Here we hear the tenth sonata from his second book, published Venice 1644, performed by Les Cornets Noirs from Basel, an ensemble specialised in early baroque music, what a coincidence.
I hope you enjoy the music, may the week be peaceful and stressless !




Plans, eh ?!

Leaving in the ddm, spending the larger part of the day by looking at tons of papers, plans mostly ; all of a sudden in the late afternoon one finds oneself standing in front of some people who want to go home, presenting a project one has  – sorry for the rude expression – pulled out of the derrière in the early afternoon over two cups of coffee, or, to be correct, one chocolate and one coffee. What started as a “come over and have a look at our plans”-trip morphed into (the vague chance of) a full-scale project of at least nine months, or possibly more. Frightening and funny at the same time.
One part of the archive materials is stored in a 1902 madhouse. The guide would marvel at the impressing construction of the windows (“vandalenfest”) ; the sophisticated way of in-direct lightning and the very modern heating installations ; the unbreakable doors ; yeah, very impressive cell, state of the art in times of Emperor Wilhelm II. Nevertheless the doors are carefully blocked with stuff, so they don’t slam shut, and the whole building is downright nightmare-inducing – thank you, I won’t work there and do not want to see the small exhibition on the first floor. Especially when I’d have to pass the modern high-security facility next door in the evening. Even on this sunny afternoon it gave the impression of a 1943 prisoner of war camp.
It was an exhausting, and perhaps promising, expedition into Middle Franconia. If there should ever materialize a project, it would start in spring 2016 earliest, all their budget-planning for this year is through, all this needs a long notice – einen langen Vorlauf, while everybody else lives hand-to-mouth, oh hell yeah, we’re flexible.
No, I do not want to mumblegrumblegrouse. I just look in astonishment at the way public administration is doing business, it’s always astounding again. I should be used to it now, working as a trigger man in the public sector of culture is nothing new to me, and here my role would be to cover the head-honcho’s derrière against attacks, simply because the job (the whole project as it constitutes itself right now) involves to get rid of a lot of stuff. And nothing is worse than to cull materials, files, plans esp. from an archive, one needs a very good explanation for doing this. You can easily get things into an archive, you can barely get them out. And given the history of the institution in question, their more or less hostile relation with the responsible archive of the state, I can’t help but feel like being elected for the position of scapegoat.
I have the feeling that I shouldn’t worry now. Pay me and I shred it. After all it’s just paper, this brittle stuff they used for copies all through the last century, and besides me and one or two blokes who want to get rid of the stuff, nobody will know what was in there. And let’s be honest, most of these ten thousand files are simply nonsense.
But it’s nothing to built on, just a vague promise, so I’ll keep my hand in the lottery, and drive kiddies, that’s an honest job after all.

Persons, Places

Nermberch Akademie

The Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg (German : Akademie der Bildenden Künste Nürnberg) was founded in 1662 by Jacob von Sandrart and is the oldest art academy in German-speaking Central Europe.

That’s fine what wikipedia says in its article (Ger., Eng.), but how did they do it ? Did some blokes scramble in the seedy back-room of the Bratwurschtglöckla (Gartenlaube), knock back a few pints and finally say : “Yoh, we are ready for academy now !” ? That is basically what happened, except that the Akademie resided first in a private dwelling ; the beginnings are called “humble”, and it may have been a bit more complicated as the above cited sentence indicates. So says Ludwig GROTE (Ger.) whom I follow on this. *
An “Akademie” (Eng.) can be founded – even today – by anybody. It is not a university. Universities were founded by rulers or states that took good (more or less) care for the financial basis, payment for professors, housing for students, equipment (library !) etc.etc.pp., and in turn expected that the university would produce for example jurists for the dukedom’s administration or theologians for the territorial church. An Akademie can have another subject, the arts, natural science or trade ; it is not necessarily a place where students are educated, so young members of the Nuremberg Akademie were expected to have learned their profession as painters from a master before  they enter the institution. And the Institut was open for interested laymen too, they may be exercising an art themselves as dilettantes or they may be potential buyers of art.
The Akademie was founded by the copperplate engraver Jacob von SANDRART (Ger., Eng., ADB) (1630-1708), the city council member Joachim NÜTZEL von Sündersbühl (1629-1671), and the architect Elias von GEDELER (no information found, 1620-1693). NÜTZEL was there for official reasons : The city council had even in the late seventeenth century a problem with citizens coming together in unsupervised groups, too often – at least for the authority’s taste – from such gatherings unrest, even rebellion, had started.
GEDELER (or GÖDELER) was an Exilant / expatriate from Upper-Austria, and Jacob was the nephew of the painter Joachim von SANDRART (Ger., Eng.), who – according to GROTE – was the driving force behind the founding of the Akademie.
After the initial push business became a bit slow, what changed 12 years later when Joachim finally settled in Nuremberg (1674) –  and promptly became president of the society. He chose as assistants a man called EIMMERT, the brother-in-law of Jacob, and a man called AUER, Jacob’s son-in-law – the whole thing at this time was clearly an affaire of the SANDRART family. Also the artists who had migrated to Nuremberg in the fifteen years between the end of the Thirty-Years-War (1648) and the formation of the Akademie (1662) were all connected in one way or another to Joachim, either they were members of his family, or disciples & admirers.
Joachim von SANDRART (1606-14.X.1688) was not for the first time in Nuremberg. When the large congress or conference that marked the official end of the Thirty-Years-War took place in Nuremberg 1648, he was called in by Carl Gustav von Zweibrücken (Ger., Eng.) (1622-1660), Generalissimus and future king of Sweden – to portrait the attendees. SANDRART was the society painter of his age, who ever was something special needed a portrait by him. Carl Gustav threw honours at him, people queued in front of his painting room. And boy was he quick: He did one or, in a good mood, two portraits a day – earning tons of money, medals, titles … a Malerfürst, polyglot, with aplomb and self-consciousness.
An earlier try to found an Akademie in Augsburg faltered, but Joachim in his long career had contact to nearly any such undertaking, knew notably the Accademia della Crusca (Ger., Eng.) in Firenze. In Nuremberg the “academic idea” was already present : different circles existed since the days of the humanists like CELTIS & PIRCKHEIMER, there was a philological circle around HESSE & CAMERARIUS, a collegium medicum, the Pegnesische Blumenorden, an alchemical society with young LEIBNIZ as secretary (shortly !).
SANDRART wrote about his ideal, and of course the title of his magnum opus is “Teutsche Academie“.
In the centre is for him the informal meeting of artists, mainly to draw together from nature, nude drawing, and above this – following the Renaissance ideal – the engagement with anatomy, perspective, proportion theory, architecture, mythology et al. That is what he had learned to know notably in Italy, in Venezia, Bologna and of course Rome, where such private circles existed and where he met men like LORRAIN and POUSSIN.
What we can see here is that artists who had learned not only to draw but had educated themselves following a program, separate themselves from the “gemeine Maler”, the run-of-the-mill Pinselquäler, brush-tormenter. It is a sociological process that finds its expression in Emperor Rudolf II. granting the “Malerzeche” of Prague the right to call their “Handwerk”, their craft, “Malkunst” in 1596. They are allowed to have their own guild, the emblem is Minerva.
SANDRART btw is the first who in his “Teutsche Academie” gives not only a theory of art, a program for artists, but who collects biographies of artists as well, most notably GRÜNEWALD. He saw DÜRER as his predecessor and payed tribute to the great man by renovating his grave by own means.
SANDRARTs classical ideal is expressed by LESSING in one sentence : “Der Pinsel des Malers soll in Verstand getunkt sein.”
The painter’s brush should be tipped in sense / wit / intellect.
He said it himself a bit more elaborate :

“Es vermeinen etliche unsererer Teutschen, auch theils alte Künstler, es sei ihnen rühmlich und fördere zu großem Namen, wenn sie große wilde Fantasten sind und durch verkehrtes Leben wilde Würmer im Kopf erzeugen. Womit sie nur ihre törichte Einfalt zeigen und daß ihnen an Vernunft und Weisheit gar viel abgeht.”

Some artists, even old ones, believe they will win fame and get a big name by being phantasts and creating wild worms in their heads. They only show their simplicity and lack of reason and sapience.

But sometimes “wild worms” are necessary.


* GROTE, Ludwig: Joachim von Sandrart und Nürnberg, in: GROTE, Ludwig: Von Dürer bis Gropius. Aufsätze zur deutschen Kunst, zusammengestellt von Wulf SCHADENDORF, Nürnberg 1975 (Bibliothek des Germanischen Nationalmuseums Nürnberg zur deutschen Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte, 35), S.57-68.
Zuerst 1962 als Festvortrag aus Anlaß der 300-Jahrfeier der Akademie der bildenden Künste in Nürnberg am 20. Juni 1962.
Ausführlich in: Barock in Nürnberg. 1600-1750. Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums 1962, S.10-21.

mago, Persons, Places

A Man Who Makes Baskets

On my visit to the country fair this caught my attention :


Koerbe 1


Baskets made from splint, Spankörbe. He made them there.


Koerbe 2


I had asked him before I took the photograph. He visits the fair every year, but is not sure about the coming year. He’s in his late seventies and has no successor, and in his village he is the last Spankorbmacher. He does not work with willow, he makes no wicker baskets. The stuff you see in the next picture in the foreground is what he uses, gespantes Holz.


Koerbe 3


He said that the actual making of a basket is in the end the shortest part of his work. Preparing the wood takes much longer.
The craft is still taught (here), but I think it’s a small school.
I especially liked that he just came with his baskets, a chair and his tools & materials. No coffee tables, no banks or free lunch for the “important” guests, just a man who makes baskets.