Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Goethe and Bauhaus

My stay in Weimar was short but sweet.  I left Nuremberg on a morning train to Weimar via Jena.  At the Jena Paradies station, I met a nice Iranian girl who was studying in Weimar.  We chatted about life in Iran and Germany, about the necessity (or not) of a PhD, and she helped me find my way to the Labyrinth Hostel in Goetheplatz.

The Labyrinth Hostel was a fun and funky place that I really liked and would have happily stayed longer.  I lucked out with an 8 bedroom dorm all to my self.  Such is 4 star in my world.

After I settled in and grabbed some quick lunch--btw, Germany is surprisingly cheap for food, I made my way to the Goethe National Museum.  Johan Wolfgang von Goethe is an utterly fascinating figure, who was a true renaissance man and Enlightenment figure.  I toured his house, and his collections of things that he picked up in his long travels in Italy.  Goethe collected items to remind him of his passions, and return him to his travels.  I am a bit more spartan, perhaps because no duke every gave me a residence.

Anyway, I toured through Goethe's collections, and drawing rooms as well as his study.  Goethe's Theory of Colours was on display in his fair abode.  Like Van Gogh later, Goethe understood that color affected emotion.  Different rooms were different colors depending on the mood he wanted to draw out of himself or his guests.

My favorite room was his study.  Yes, I got to peer into Goethe's study in its earthly green.  It was quite awe-inspiring.

Besides the house, there was also a wonderful museum on Goethe's works, life and times, and the various forces that shaped his views.  I learned all about The Sorrows of Young Werther, and the profound effect the book had on its age and the Sturm und Drang movement.

I also learned about his role connecting the various disciplines of science and culture, of the synthesis of the romantic and natural worlds--of East and West.  And of course his Weimar Classicism, which argued that art and culture would slowly free mankind through humanism not violent revolution.

And the titanic Faust.

I spent hours in the museum, and I could have spent hours more had it not closed on me.  The Sorrows of Young Paul.

I left the museum and headed back to the hostel for a bit before making my way out in the freezing cold (probably a few degrees below zero, it was bitter) for some dinner at a pizza place (the only thing open) before settling in early.

I awoke early monday--I haven't slept well since Trump won.  I already mentioned my trip to Buchenwald.

After I returned from the concentration camp, I needed something uplifting, so I visited the Bauhaus Museum.  It was fascinating.  I did not know much about Bauhaus other than some of the architecture in Tel Aviv from a tour from Paule Rakower.  Long story from many years ago, but there is a Belgian-Israeli of similar name,

But I digress.

The Bauhaus Museum explained Walter Gropius' school of art and concept of Bauhaus.  Basically, Bauhaus tried to create "total art" by connecting architecture with fine and applied art in a school of work that married function, form and color.  The Bauhaus School of Art was a state school that brought some real luminaries to Weimar like Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky among others as teachers.  Alas, amid the darkening days in Germany, the Bauhaus school was forced to move to Desau, but not before it made its mark on the landscape of the art world and paved the way for modern art and design.

There is something about Weimar, maybe it is in the water.  But its influence on Goethe and Gropius to try to marry rational and romantic, the functional and the humanistic, is definitely there.  I could have spent more time in Weimar, but I had a night bus to Leipzig.

I left Weimar on a Flixbus for 5 euros for the 2 hour journey.  Not bad.  The bus was late arriving, but I chatted with a nice German named Werner who was also waiting for a late bus to Berlin.

On the ride, I watched the huge moon out the bus window.  We arrived to Leipzig, and immediately I was taken with the city and its monumental architecture.  I arrived at my hostel just in time to check-in before the front desk shut down for the night.

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