Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Stuttgart Kunstmuseum Tour

The Kunstmuseum is one of the more important buildings in central Stuttgart: it's been dropped bang in the middle of the city, has a self-consciously contemporary design and a great viewing platform that looks out over the main square from its top floor. As I have been toying with using their viewing platform, I felt I really should take their tour, even if it was only offered in German, which I understand shockingly little of. Actually, to tell the truth, my German is basically a smattering gleamed from ordering drinks and food whilst do shows here or else it's derived from watching too many B-list war movies as a kid. It is certainly nowhere near sufficient to take a contemporary art tour. 

Luck, however, was with me today. I turned out to be the only person on the tour and my guide, Lilian, was able to give me a tour in English. The tour took us through the museum's collection stopping to talk about a number of the works. The style of the tour was more interactive than previous ones with questions like "what do you see in the painting" acting as starters. Information about the work did follow but I think this style of tour was used in order to engage people in the process of the work and not just in appreciating masterworks. We had to find the right words to put to some of the concepts, as this was probably the first time she had ever given the tour in English, but it went fine. 

The tour began with early 20th Century paintings from the Swabian Impressionism school, which I'd never heard of, to contemporary sculpture pieces and it lasted a little over an hour. While we were being encouraged to say what we say and thought when looking at the work, I also got the feeling that this information was then being railroaded into the correct interpretation, which the guide was always going to get me to arrive at in the end. She told me that the majority of people who take this tour are usually 50+ and there is often some hostility to the more conceptual works, which comes as little surprise.

I noticed that they had an upmarket cafe downstairs and a good restaurant upstairs and this got me thinking about yesterday's tour. If the sex tour were to extend into the Kunstmuseum the cafe would be the prime pick-up spot, or else the art itself, like in Woody Allen's droll Play it Again Sam.

This evening ended with overhearing a remark about English tourists. I was standing outside a rather hip bar where an Icelandic singer songwriter was playing. He introduced most of his songs with a short story or observation and with one he began by saying how terrible English tourists are. He then asked, "are there any English tourists here?" I said nothing as I am technically neither English nor a tourist, even though I share certain qualities of both. He then proceeded to say what assholes English tourists are, how they are the loudest and most stupid tourists, how he was in a hostel and trying to sleep and some English tourists burst in shouting "where's my kebab!" and when he asked them to be quiet, "fuck off Frankie". I doubt very much that those chaps will make it along to the Kunstmuseum Tour.

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