Wednesday, 31 July 2013
K F Schinkel's cute little pavilion at the Charlottenburg Palace is finally open after what feels like about thirty years of renovation. I've never managed to get inside before (and I've tried every single time I've been to Berlin) and certainly the three rooms (yep, just three) that are authentically re-created are ambrosia for the architectural soul. This private retreat for the king, right next door to the enormous, but primarily one room wide, cowshed of a palace, would not be out of place in the grounds of Caesars Palace golf course. It is Pompeii (interior) via Naples (exterior) and thoroughly un-German representing the kings sophistication in it's modesty. Of course that was the point, it was a good tactic in those times to be less ostentatious in your kingly ways. It is, I suppose, just a house.
It's funny how such theming can be considered brash in Las Vegas but the opposite here, amply demonstrating the ebb and flow of popular taste with regard to essentially the same operation, and certainly that we need a heavy dose of 'cultural context' to appreciate of the object in front of us. Well actually no you don't, because this thing is particularly gorgeous in anybody's language, you would have to be very far out there not to appreciate the delicacy of the interior and the restraint in concept. You would have to be as insensitive as a brick.
The building was very heavily damaged in WW2, being slap bang next to an important bridge over the Spee, and the renovation has taken so long presumably because that sort of godlike delicacy takes so much time. As Dolly Parton said 'you wouldn't believe how much money it takes to look this cheap' but of course it doesn't look cheap, it looks exquisite, but unfortunately, at least yesterday, it felt BLOODY HOT too. That is, it felt bloody hot despite those coolest of Schinkel interiors.
The curators were doing their best; busy inspecting those little machines in each room that measure humidity and all. There was no doubt consternation, and with the place full of Casper David Friedrich and Schinkel paintings they couldn't exactly just open the windows. So the technology doesn't work, a bit of a blow after all this wait.