A Jewish girls' school in Berlin, left to ruin for the better part of two decades, was recently given a five million euro facelift by well-known gallerist Michael Fuchs, to become the city's most idiosyncratic cultural venue.
As you walk through
the spruced-up, art-clad space of Berlin’s Haus
der Kunst und Esskultur (House of Art and Dining Culture), it takes some
imagination to picture the building as it once was. Built in 1927 by Alexander
Beer in the function-over-form style of New Objectivity, it has served many
purposes throughout the years, originally accommodating 300 pupils learning
Hebrew and traditional arts, then becoming a base from which Jews were deported
to concentration camps in 1942, and finally being used as a military hospital
until the end of World War II.
However, these dark
days are no longer apparent. In place of what was once a draughty assembly hall
is the Michael Fuchs Galerie,
where the inaugural exhibition Hang On (running
until 31 March) includes Warhol portraits of Frederick the Great, Frank
Stella's stainless steel and carbon sculptures and works by contemporary German
artists like Jonas Burgert and Gregor Hildebrandt.
excited about exhibiting here," said gallery director Daniel Loganathan.
"You can see the ceiling is still in its original state; the character of
the building has been perfectly kept."
name on the Berlin gallery scene, Eigen
+ Art Lab, occupies two carefully restored classrooms and a corridor. Until
19 May, the gallery is showing the carnivalesque paintings of British artist Ryan
Mosley. On the first floor of the Haus der Kunst und Esskultur, a cavernous
space is given over to the CWC
Gallery, currently zooming in on Canadian photographer Robert Polidori’s emotive
shots of Havana, Chernobyl and New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
School dinners will
never be the same again with much-lauded Austrian chef Siegfried Danler-Heinemann
overseeing the menu at new restaurant Pauly
Saal, where Venetian chandeliers and bottle-green banquettes add a touch of
1920s decadence to the former gymnasium. In the kitchen, the emphasis is on
earthy, top-quality ingredients: freshly baked bread, homemade sausages, house-pickled
vegetables, offal and suckling pig. If
that doesn't appeal, try New York-style deli Mogg
& Melzer ‘s pastrami and barbecued brisket, or The Kosher Classroom, which opens for
Sabbath dinners on Fridays and brunch on Sundays, with Kosher wine tastings,
cooking classes and cocktail courses in the pipeline.