The Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) at the Kulturforum is a museum for modern art in Berlin, with its main focus on the early 20th century. It is part of the National Gallery of the Berlin State Museums. The museum building and its sculpture gardens were designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and opened in 1968. The collection features a number of unique highlights of modern 20th century art. Particularly well represented are Cubism, Expressionism, the Bauhaus and Surrealism. The collection owns masterpieces of artists like Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Joan Miró, Wassily Kandinsky and Barnett Newman. The design of the building, despite its large site, allows for the display of only a small part of the collection, and the displays are therefore changed at intervals. In 2010 and most of 2011, the exhibitions covers the time period 1900–1945; from late 2011 post-war art will be the following exhibition.The Neue Nationalgalerie opened on 15 September 1968 ( Mies van der Rohe was forced to miss the opening with an asthma attack).
It was the first building completed as a part of Berlin’s Kulturforum, a cluster of buildings dedicated to culture and the fine arts. The second and final museum of the architect's career (the first being the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston ), its architecture is, according to its admirers, a powerful and expressive object in itself. Mies' design for the building was essentially the same as his headquarters for Bacardi - an unrealized building made of concrete - but rendered in steel. With some 53,820 square feet (5,000 square metres) of exhibition space, nearly all of the museum's collections are located within a stone podium, solid to protect the art from damaging daylight, partially in the ground of the sloping site, with windows only on one side facing a walled sculpture garden. A minimalist steel and glass pavilion, located on the paved roof plaza above the podium, serves as the entrance lobby and the special exhibit gallery. The pavilion, while a small part of the museum, is the primary architectural expression. Its structure consists of a large steel roof deck supported by eight exterior columns, creating an effect of a shelter with a single floating plane. Large glass sheets that define the interior space are set far back from the roof edges, framed by delicate steel mullions. The glass walls and the elimination of all interior columns emphasizes the idea of free space as a place for artists to present their work, unencumbered by the necessity of a shelter to protect visitors and contents from the elements. Natural light transmitted through these walls reflects off the dark, highly polished floor, emphasizing the extension of space beyond the boundaries of the interior, a symbolic removal of solid walls as barriers. The podium roof plaza is itself another open air gallery for public sculpture, extending the exhibit space of the pavilion to the outside. The unusual natural illumination, coming from around and below the viewer rather than above, and the continuous suggestion of motion in the ceiling, combine to shock the viewer out of his or her usual way of seeing, perhaps preparing the audience to bring a fresh eye to the art housed below. Yet, at the same time, the simplicity and rigorously pure geometry of the space's rectangular forms makes the design seem tranquil, rather than obtrusive. This careful balance of free-flowing space and a stable arrangement of architectural components is typical of Mies van der Rohe's mature style.
The New National Gallery's ceiling, constructed as a grid of black-painted steel beams, has been used as an exhibit surface in itself for Installation for the Neue Nationalgalerie, an installation of long lines of LCD displays by artist Jenny Holzer in 2001, which continuously scrolled abstract patterns down their length. The New National Gallery's terrace provides a particularly prominent space for large-scale pieces of sculpture from the 20th century. Permanently installed sculptures include Gudari (1957) by Eduardo Chillida, Polis (1968) by Joannis Avramidis, the kinetic metal sculpture Vier Vierecke im Geviert (1969) by George Rickey, Three Way Piece No.2: The Archer (1964-65) by Henry Moore, Têtes et Queue (1965) by Alexander Calder, and Berlin Block Charlie Chaplin (1978) by Richard Serra. In 2003, with the permission of the Barnett Newman Foundation, a fourth edition of the sculpture Broken Obelisk (1963) by Barnett Newman was cast and temporarily installed in front of the museum. In 2011, Thomas Schütte 's work Vater Staat (2010) was donated by Nicolas Berggruen and installed on the terrace. Many other pieces of sculpture - by artists from Auguste Renoir to Ulrich Rückriem - are on permanent display in the museum's garden.
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