My trip to Cologne and David Hockney exhibit

December 19, 2012

Cologne cathedral in morning sun

Cologne cathedral in morning sun

I had a great 3 day getaway last week in Cologne. I  went specifically for the centennial  recreation of the 1912 “Sonderbund Exhibition”-  ‘the single most important presentation of European Modernism’. Artists including Cézanne, Gauguin, Macke, Munch, Nolde, Picasso, Schiele, Signac and van Gogh were represented; and the Wallraf-Richartz museum has re-collected many of these Post Impressionist and Expressionist masterpieces from all over the world to recreate the original exhibition.

It was impressive, but I found the entourage cold and unwelcoming. And this affected my enjoyment of the paintings. I was actually glad to leave.

On the other hand, I accidentally bumped into the David Hockney ‘Big Picture’ show at the gorgeous modern Museum Ludwig, which had been originally shown at the Royal Academy, and this was worth the whole trip.  Hockney doesn’t permit unauthorised reproduction of his paintings, so I don’t have any images, but you can Google some.

The show was a total immersion experience in the art and life of this artist of stature. I’ve always liked Hockney’s work, but these huge composite canvasses of as many as 18 paintings making up one whole wall of landscape were just awe inspiring. It was a privilege just to see this work. I wish I had had another day, because room after room of paintings, watercolours, sketchbooks, videos showing him at work, videos showing a changing landscape, and more, were too much to take in on one visit. It was all good, all well drawn, all honest, all meaningful, relevant. And yet also decorative, unique and humorous.

I left the museum totally inspired. There is so much passion in his work, I feel an urgency there, that he knows he’s getting older and he still has so much- so very much to say. Being exposed to the collected works of someone like that works a magic in the viewer. The pure dedication, passion and mastery force one to ask,’What am I dedicated to in the same way?’, and ‘Am I using my time well to honour this?’. I came away with a renewed sense of purpose and the conviction that painting as a path is overflowing with meaning. That it is a worthy way to love the world and truly partake in this amazing dance of life.

market at night

Christmas market at night

Then there were the wonderful Christmas markets where people stood around socialising, with mulled wine and deep fried potato latkes bought from the stalls.  And the many Christmas wares for sale. The last picture is of a sweet breakfast café called Yummy, where you could put together your breakfast muesli from a bar with about 30 different cereals and toppings. It was very crafty and cute with great food.

I stayed at a fantastic new hostel around the corner from there. Check it out if you ever want to go to Cologne, a friendly, richly cultural city which I would highly recommend visiting.


Market stall Christmas market


‘Yummy’ muesli bar

7 Responses to “My trip to Cologne and David Hockney exhibit”

  1. Hi Sarah,
    I saw the Hockney in London and I, like you, was blown away by the sheer amount of work this man still manages to produce. It all has such vitality and conversation going on in it. The size of it was megalithic but so wonderful. Also the work he does on an iPad is astonishing and quite inspiring. He uses all tools available to him.
    Inspirational indeed.

    • I’m so glad someone else was also affected by this show. You are right, the vitality and conversation communicate immediately and powerfully. The paintings attracted me more than the i-pad work, though it was fascinating too. But he gets kudos from me for moving so gracefully with the times and new media.And setting standards with it!!

  2. ooh a wee bit of yarn bombing on that chair too!

  3. Looks like a Christkindl Festival I went to back in Germany in the 1970s.
    They had a hot spiced wine there. Really good and warming.
    Lovely pictures and write up. I will have to check out Hockney’s work.
    Would love to see something you paint of that warm glowing Christmas Mart.
    Happy Holidays, Sarah!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences in Germany, Annie. I think this latest work of Hockney’s has to be experienced face to face, the scale is just so impressive.

      hmm, not my usual subject, but you never know!

  4. […] My trip to Cologne and David Hockney exhibit (artcalling.wordpress.com) […]

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