Modernism in the reconstruction of Charlottenburg Palace
The exhibition on Google Arts & Culture is dedicated to the role of modernism in the process of rebuilding Charlottenburg Palace. The focus is on the contemporary ceiling painting by the painter Hann Trier (1915-1999) from 1972 in the White Hall of the New Wing. This was preceded by many years of discussion about a possible reconstruction of the Baroque ceiling painting created by the Prussian court painter Antoine Pesne (1683-1757). The exhibition makes a contribution to the reconstruction debate that has been reignited since the fall of the Wall with building projects such as the Humboldt Forum in Berlin or, most recently, the Parade Apartment in Dresden Palace. Not only the new findings from archive materials from the 1940s to the 1970s and the discovery of the large designs for the ceiling painting allow an insight into the exciting period of reconstruction, but also interviews with contemporary witnesses.
Six sections allow you to immerse yourself in this recent chapter in the palace’s history:
‘Destruction. Reconstruction?’ is devoted to the destruction of the Berlin palaces and their subsequent fate (max. reading time approx. 20 minutes).
‘How far should one go?’ casts a light on the sometimes unusual solutions arrived at in the efforts to restore the historic fabric of Charlottenburg Palace (max. reading time approx. 20 minutes).
‘The White Hall in focus’ explores the loss of the historic ceiling painting in the White Hall, describing the reconstruction of the ruined hall and taking a look at how lost ceiling paintings were dealt with in other palaces and buildings in Germany (max. reading time approx. 20 minutes).
‘A ceiling as a problem: the path to Hann Trier’ forms the main part of the exhibition. It describes the intense controversy that accompanied the protracted decision-making process, which was conducted largely in public, before the project was eventually realized (max. reading time for both parts approx. 55 minutes).
‘The White Hall and what came after: Modernism in reconstruction’ then gives an account of the impact of the debate on subsequent projects at the Charlottenburg Palace and the art of Hann Trier, also taking a look at Potsdam in order to explore how contemporary art was dealt with in the German Democratic Republic. (max. reading time approx. 25 minutes).
‘And how do things look today?’ The concluding section (only available in German) takes the story up to the present day: individuals involved in practice, theory and journalism with the problems of dealing with lacunae in historical contexts have supplied us with statements about the role that might be assigned to modern art today.
Besides including three highest-resolution photographs of ceiling paintings plus interactive Google Street View images, the exhibition is enriched with recordings of contemporary witnesses who were interviewed about the events of the 1960s and 1970s:
Helmut Börsch-Supan (*1933), is an art historian and from 1961 to 1995 worked at the Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Berlin (Department of State Palaces and Gardens Berlin), where he was vice-director from 1983.
Heinz Schönemann (*1934) is an art historian and worked from 1963 at the Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Potsdam-Sanssouci (State Palaces and Gardens Potsdam-Sanssouci) as Director of Palaces; from 1978 to 1995 he was deputy director general. Until 1999 he was head conservator of the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg (Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg).
Renate Mayntz Trier (*1929) is a sociologist and in 1985 was appointed the first director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. She is the widow of the painter Hann Trier.
Adrian von Buttlar (*1948) is an art historian and carries out research into the theory, politics and history of cultural heritage preservation. His father, Dr Herbert von Buttlar (1912-1976), former secretary general of the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin (1956–1964) and director of the Hamburg School of Art from 1964, was a friend of the painter Carl Timner, who submitted a design for the ceiling painting in the White Hall.