Friday, February 11, 2011

Searching for Marg Moll

I wrote a post about the artist Marg Moll recently, whose scuplture The Dancer was rediscovered together with several other sculptures by artists who had been included in the infamous Nazi-exhibition „Degenerate Art“ when they were dug up during construction work in Berlin.
In my reading which I did in preparation for that post I had found a statement that one of her sculptures was supposed to be located in the senior residence „Augustinum“ in Munich. Yesterday I happened to drive by that residence, which is located right next to the Autobahn from Munich to Lindau on a delivery drive I had to take, and on my way back I decided to stop, take a little break and try to find that sculpture.
At first it was a bit of an orientation problem, because the residence is right next to a clinic with the same name, but I did find the right entrance eventually. At the front desk I was welcomed by a very friendly young lady (one out of three staffing the desk – it is a huge residence indeed!), who had never heard of a statue or sculpture by a person of that name. At first she thought I was talking about a current exhibition, but when I said it had to be a sculpture that must have been here for a while, she was at a loss. Her colleague suggested I look in ‚house 4’, there was a sculpture. Easy to find, but not the right artist:

Bernd Thomas Zimmermann,
Fire and Water (2008)
I did think twice about going back to the front desk or rather calling it quits right away. But it had been a good and succesful day so far and I thought that lucky streak might be strong enough to continue for a little while yet. At the desk they started trying to figure out whom they could ask, who would be likely to know about this issue. Three phone-calls later I was asked to sit down and wait for a few minutes,  the staff member responsible for art in the building would check into the matter.
While I was waiting I was amazed at the amount of things happening at the desk – employees checking in and out, residents asking whether their taxi had been ordered as they had requested, a repair worker waiting for something, at least three or four emergency bell calls which had to be referred to immediate attention of the care personnel, approximately five phone calls coming in for various reasons... I was beginning to feel increasingly embarrassed that I had come with this awkward desire to see a little (? – I don’t know how big it is...) statue which probably had not received much attention lately due to the fact that it had been standing there for quite a while already. But now that kind Ms. Wurm had initiated the inquiry with the staff I couldn’t well leave either. After not more than five minutes of waiting she called back the lady who was supposed to find out and pressed for the information of the whereabouts of the statue.
Just a few more minutes later she was able to tell me that unfortunately most of their statues were traveling through the other dependencies of the residence throughout Germany and that nobody knew when they would be back.
So my streak of luck had broken and I had to leave without having seen a real Marg Moll, not even knowing when would be a possible time to check back for another attempt. I did apologize to her for having added to her stress at the front desk with such a petty request, but she was graciously kind about it.
I think I’ll have to go to Berlin to see Marg Moll – or find another museum somewhere closer where one of her statues is on display. The search continues...

On my way home I then happened to pass by another, definitely large sculpture, much discussed these days, at least in the smaller, and perhaps even the larger Munich area: the newly installed ‚Mae West’ on Effnerplatz, visible when you exit the recently completed Richard-Strauß-Tunnel, part of the Munich City Ring Highway:

Mae West, by Rita McBride,
at Effnerplatz in Munich
I haven’t been following the heated and controversial discussion about the sculpture, only saw that it has kept reappearing in the papers recently. However, the few things I caught about the discussion reminded me of a similar discussion I witnessed when I was living in the city of Augsburg several years ago, and the city was given a donation of a statue of 'Venus' by Markus Lüpertz, under the condition that it be installed at a central place.
The controversy which rocked the city back then way surpassed my understanding of what was going on in the minds of the people then. I admit that while I did not consider the statue particularly beautiful either (but Lüpertz' statues don't ever seem to be considered 'beautiful', from what I gathered looking on the internet), I certainly could not understand how furiously the people fought against it. They were successful in the end and the sculpture disappeared from Augsburg, but I believed then that that would be the only time I would ever be witness to such an uprising against a piece of modern art. However, from what I have gathered from the Munich discussion, it seems that the larger city can make an even larger fuss about a similar issue – with the one difference that this particular sculpture is aesthetically pleasing, despite its size, voluminosity, or whatever one wants to call it.
One point of dissent is the fact that it is called ‚Mae West’, for what does Mae West have to do with Munich? Or this sculpture with the real Mae West?
Well, I would like to suggest two different options for changing that: since the name was attached itself to the sculpture only after it had been created, to distract from the mounting discussion, and does not seem to have been the intention of its maker Rita McBride (sorry, no English article on her in Wikipedia yet!), professor for sculpture at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, one could just go ahead and rename it more appropriately. Why not call her/it ‚Mue East’, since it is placed east of the inner city? Or another possibility would be to simply call it ‚Effi’ in reference to Theodor Fontane’s realistic novel Effi Briest, since it can be found on Effnerplatz. That would give a German connection, though not a Munich one, true...

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