My next post was going to be about Peter Fox. Instead, I have the chance to tell you about Peter Fox and then some. A series of coincidences last Friday made me the unlikely benefactor of some concert tickets, dinner and an excellent art exhibit in Bremen. I will start with the Bremen evening, and then it’s on to Peter Fox.
If you have been anywhere in Germany in the last six months, you have also undoubtedly seen advertisements for the Edvard Munch exhibit at the Kunsthalle Bremen. The only piece I had ever seen of Munch’s is The Scream, so I was definitely excited to learn more. The exhibit entitled “Rätsel hinter der Leinwand,” Riddles Behind the Canvas, was in itself well worth the trip. Munch lived from 1863 to 1944, and during this time, it was common for artists to either use both sides of the canvas or to simply paint over other paintings due to lack of materials. Researchers using x-ray technology discovered a previously unknown painting, The Girl and 3 Male Heads, behind one of his well-known pieces, The Child and Death. If this discovery weren’t already intriguing enough, The Girl and Three Mens’ Heads is a really great piece.
The exhibit is laid-out nicely, with lots of bi-lingual information about Munch, his life and the symbolism in his work. I especially liked how the double-sided canvases were displayed so that both sides were visible. Furthermore, Munch’s work is multi-faceted, colorful, and easy to enjoy. Munch, like many other turn-of-the-century creative talents, had issues understanding women. Naturally, he featured this struggle heavily in his work. He was ahead of his time with his awareness of the uncontrollable attention man pays to woman from the time she reaches puberty and her struggle with the situation. However, in a disappointing turn for someone with this insight, he readily assigns the blame to the woman.
In a piece called Christiania Boheme II, he depicts members of his Christiania artists collective, and the famously, free-loving female artist who served as their queen of sorts. She had slept with everyone in the piece except for Munch, hence his skeletal self-portrait in the corner of the drawing. After seeing this, I was not surprised to learn that he had only had one short romantic relationship in his entire life. Every woman has met this guy, the “nice” guy, who feels that he deserves or is somehow owed something from a certain woman. Of course, this means he’s not actually nice, so the women never go for him, and he spends his days moping around and complaining about how “nice guys finish last.” Anyway, everyone is not perfect, and Munch was able to turn this rather offensive worldview into some incredible pieces. In addition, his treatment of death, especially the way children understand it, is beautiful, moving and spot-on.
(On a side note, I would love to show you some photos of the exhibit, but I was sternly told to “stop doing what I was doing, and erase the photo immediately.”)
After the Munch exhibit, it was off to dinner and a concert at Die Glocke, a café and venue attached to the Dom. The group was Quadro Nuevo, and the show was called Grand Voyage. They were great. If I had just heard a CD, I would have thought OK, this is some generic world music. This Bavarian quartet is a group that shines in live performance. Between the four members, I counted 13 instruments at our show, but their website reveals that they use many, many more. (You can even hear what each one sounds like on their website!) They were hilarious between numbers, sharing stories of travel gone awry, and even going through a photo album on stage that none of us could really see. My favorite elements of their performance were their creative percussion and harp use. Instead of a drum, they would play bongo-style on the side of the upright bass, or tap the keys of the saxophone and clarinet into the microphone to keep the beat. As for the harp, if you have ever wondered about a harp being cool, it can be done. Evelyn, the harpist, wails on that thing. Actually, they can all wail, and it’s unfortunate that no one will ever look cool playing the accordion. Quadro Nuevo’s guy came close.
And now for Peter Fox. Peter Fox’s song Haus am See was one of the first things I heard on the radio this fall that made me stop and listen closely. Fox’s sound is hip-hop with a touch of reggae, and he totally pulls it off. The man loves strings and a drumline, and incorporates both heavily. He also seems to be into Planet of the Apes, but that might just be this album. On YouTube, you can find a playlist with 28 of his songs, but I’m going to show you my two favorites: Haus am See and Alles Neu. I hope his music makes you stop, too.