Smiling, no Laughing in Galleries

I don’t know who started the game first, was it me or Mr Tranquillo, I can’t remember. Perhaps it’s something that everyone does after a few months of art gallery overload. Capturing amusing images of the painted baby Jesus in art became a pastime : trying to restrain one’s hilarity in those staid and respectable halls only added to the pleasure. The game began in the Groeningemuseum in Bruges and developed into a full on competition by the time we visited the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, which, by the way, has the best collection of bad babies by far. We spent five hours in this fabulous gallery: despite these rather odd representations of Madonna and child, the Gemäldegalerie holds the most stunning collection of European art from the 13th to 19th centuries and is well worth a visit.

Bad baby no 1.
Bad baby and mother, double points
Baby as ET, mother not amused.
Hello Mum, hand over that purse.
Waving to my fans.
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Old baby old man, Bruges.

I’m sure Mr T captured far more images than I did.

For Smile

East Wall Gallery, Berlin

The East Side Gallery, an open air gallery along a 1.3 kilometre stretch of the retained Berlin wall, is a wonderful expression of hope and optimism, painted in 1990 by artists from all over the world. Not only is it an historical record of the end of an era, but is also a symbol of open borders and the freedom of movement which European residents now enjoy.

The most famous panel: restored, repainted and admired.” My God, Help Me To Survive This Deadly Love.” Repainted from a photograph of the original panel. East Side Gallery, Berlin.

Most of the panels today have been repainted, layered over years of tagging, graffiti and vandalism. You would think that this preservation would be a logical step, yet the move has been met with major conflict. “Eight of the artists of 1990 refused to paint their own images again after they were completely destroyed by the renovation.”

In order to defend copyright, they founded ‘Founder Initiative East Side’ with other artists whose images were simply copied without permission. It just goes to show that the ego of some artists is bigger than this historical statement. Restore, re-paint, touch up, preserve, leave to vandalism, start again- where do you draw the line with street art?

East Side Gallery, Berlin.