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GoetheInstitute

28/06/2006

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Die Welt, 28.06.2006

Godfrey Barker and Gerhard Charles Rump report on a court judgement in the Netherlands, which orders the restitution of an inordinately valuable art collection to Amsterdam artist Christine Koenigs, whose grandfather was forced to sell the works during World War Two. Part of the collection, which includes works by Leonardo, Raffael, Dürer, Cranach, Holbein, Rubens, van Dyck, Rembrandt, Watteau, Fragonard and Cezanne, hangs in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. "The court denies the government of the Netherlands the status of rightful owner of the art, which was procured by the Nazis, and instead names it mediator in the restitution process, explicitly stating that the process be conducted in an uncomplicated manner. The court instructed the Minister for Education and Culture to ensure that the restitution take no more than three months and the costs be covered by Christine Koenigs." The value of the collection is estimated at one billion euros. Part of it is in Russia.

Dankwart Guratzsch has visited an exhibition in the Frankfurt Schirn, "The Conquest of the Street," which looks at representations of the city by the two most significant generations of artists prior to World War One. The exhibition's thesis, according to Guratzsch, is that the artists discovered "the birth of the urban, at the same time that this was experiencing an unexpected renaissance in Germany with the triumphant message: cities are fascinating and beguiling cultural centres and experiential worlds. If Paris has been called the 'capital of the 19th century' then Berlin was close to becoming that of the 20th. But the exhibition pieces themselves tell another story. In many of the paintings, the euphoric high that the Impressionists created in their works, 'tips' and is replaced by a depressed, fearful, oppressive mood. And a divide (which the curators fail to account for) becomes evident between the French and the Germans: the works representing Paris of the 19th century emanate cheerfulness, summer, curiosity in the profusion. In their Berlin counterparts, this idle view is replaced by an interest in chaos, fragmentation, existential fear."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28.06.2006


Wolfgang Schreiber reports on an article by Nike Wagner for the July issue of the German magazine Cicero in which the great granddaughter of the composer and director of the Kunstfest Weimar challenges the subsidisation of the Bayreuth Festival. (background on the turbulant family saga of the Wagners and their Bayreuth festival here) Wagner claims the Bayreth festival has been foremost engaged in "reproducing its own myth, year in, year out" and "paralysed in routine and modernity since the 1970s." Her conclusion, which Schreiber considers somewhat explosive: "It's definitely hard to see why this house, which has been sold-out and fully secure for years on end, continues to receive millions in public funds rather than occasionally raising the price of its tickets and leaving state subsidies to cultural institutions, festivals and cities that need it."


Berliner Zeitung, 28.06.2006

Ralf Schenk is appalled that people are increasingly ignorant of the history of film. Young moviegoers consider the recent films on the GDR "Sonnenallee" and "Good Bye, Lenin!" film classics! "But what to think of the 22,239 readers who took part in Cinema magazine's survey on the hundred all-time best films? Certainly, the fact that 'Lord of the Rings' took first place may be put down to magazine's youthful readership. But that 'Pirates of the Caribbean' came third leads one to cast serious doubt on their qualifications. In addition, the list is almost exclusively made up of Hollywood films. The first non-American movie, Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in the West', lands way back at spot 24. You can look in vain for German films, and the same goes for Japanese, Latin American, Indian, Russian and Polish movies. There's not a single silent film on the list, in fact not a single movie is more than 30 years old."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 28.06.2006

Almuth Schellpeper reports from the Cape Town Book Fair in South Africa: "South Africa doesn't have a particularly strong reading culture. One reason for this is the lack of education of a large part of the population – a legacy of Apartheid. Back then, the black population was granted only very limited access to information and education. Accordingly, publishers catered mainly to the white readership, while the specific needs of a large black market were largely disregarded." Parallel to the fair, Cape Town's Sunday Times newspaper has announced its literary awards. Fiction Prize winner is South African lawyer Andrew Brown, for "Cold Sleep Lullaby" (news story).

On the 75th birthday of theatre critic, author and artistic director Ivan Nagel (short bio), the paper prints (unfortunately not online) an excerpt from a text written by Nagel on his memories of French actor Louis Jouvet: "Jouvet was the cruellest actor I ever met. Although as a teacher and a director he was kind-hearted, as an actor he had no patience for human stupidity, raising it to monumental heights, the curse of humanity. He portrayed the stupidity of the winner and the loser, of the butcher and the butchered. When he played Moliere, you could hear the bones cracking."


Die Tageszeitung, 28.06.2006

Alfred Hackensberger reports on an innovation in Arab media. After news broadcasters, the Arab world has now has pop-music channels that will show video clips around the clock to its target population – about 300 million Muslims – living in the Middle East and North Africa. Their recipe for success: Western concept, Oriental content. "The videos always have Arab elements, whether belly dancing or an Arab plotline. The clips are often reminiscent of rap videos, with luxury surroundings like hotels, villas or beaches, and status symbols such as expensive cars and watches. The texts are generally so simple they could be understood anywhere, despite each country having its own dialect. The ubiquitous Egyptian films function as trailblazers for a universally understandable language, a sort of pan-Arab language school."

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