Wednesday, July 13, 2011


On Tuesday we left all the kids in Maddie's care and Curtis and I attended Rob's class. He crammed in all kinds of sights and facts in the 10-minute walk to meet them right here over the river Spree.
In this week, the students are already studying about Neoclassicism and Karl Friedrich Schinkel who really left his mark on Berlin, planning and designing buildings, bridges, churches, iron work (he designed the Iron Cross), furniture and stage sets (one of them from The Magic Flute is hanging over our couch and we saw a production using his sets when we were here in 2006). I think of his influence on Berlin like a Christopher Wren on London or Antoni Gaudi on Barcelona. He was also a painter until he saw a work by Caspar David Friedrich and then he decided he could never be that good and he was going to stick to architecture. Rob was showing them six works of his all close together in the old eastern center.
This is a building that looks out on the Gendarmenmarkt (which we'll come back to). There was a Scorpions concert here a few nights back and supposedly a few of our students got in here, found an open apartment that was being remodeled and saw the whole concert from the top floor. We are big softies for students who suck the marrow out of this experience. And get away with it.
Here Rob is lecturing in front of the Berliner Dom. He did just a bang up job of not only explaining what Neoclassicism is (it was right there in front of them at the Altes Museum) but also putting it into a bigger picture, explaining what it was reacting against and why it came with a whole paradigm to educate the masses.
Then he sweettalked the museum into letting us into just the rotunda for a few minutes to see Berlin's copy of the Pantheon. The students were soaking it up like sponges and he was thrilled when one of them said "I want to go back! When can we go back to the Altes Museum!" and he got to explain that she had an annual pass and she could go back any time she wanted. It is so fun to watch them take hold of the art and make it their own.
Curtis has a swank camera and so he took advantage of the grand tour we were getting. This room would also be an excellent place to play "duck, duck, goose".
Another great classroom. I can't think of a better way to learn this. You just have to be willing to lose your luggage and sweat and climb a lot of stairs.
This was inside a church he designed in the brick gothic style (Friedenswerder). It has been completely renovated and turned into a museum. A very cool museum.
I loved looking down and see thing the whole place crawling with students sketching, taking notes, snapping pictures . . .
And this is the star piece in the collection here, the two princesses, by Schadow, same guy who did the quadriga on top of the Brandenburg Gate. I can't tell you who the Luise on the left looks, but the one on the right (Frederike) is definitely a purse-loving Kate we know who is going into the first grade. Am I right? She's known all along that she was a princess.
To finish class, we climbed up this tower in the Fransozicher Dom, one of two churches on the Gendarmenmarkt.
This is what the weather has looked like for the last week -- some blue sky and some threatening rain. I still can't find a reliable internet weather site (they conflict and they've all been really really wrong at some point), so we take the umbrellas and we just keep charging from one place to the next.
The church itself was open and Rob had never been inside so after we sent the students off to lunch, we snuck in here and checked it out. It is magnificent and such a pretty space. Since the Huguenots were Calvinists, it was deliberately plain; we want to know why Mormon chapels can't look this good? Why must we use cinderblock and burlap?
Maddie texted that she was taking the kids to the park, so on our way back we stopped into the flagship store for Ritter Sport, our favorite German Chocolate company. It was a party.
We each had a piece of cake for lunch. Don't knock it until you've tried it! Kept me going until dinnertime!
I think Curtis was ready to move in!

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