On advise of a good friend of mine from Nusser Baumgart gallery in Munich, I have visited recently Kolumba art museum in Cologne. First impression was amazing: an art museum from 1853, in possession of Archdiocese of Cologne and built on the site of the former romanesque St. Columba church, rebuilt in 2003-2007 by Peter Zumthor. The ground floor chapel “Madonna of the Ruins” looks like this:
The art collection is an impressive one. My personal highlight war Jannis Kounellis’ Tragedia civile (1975).
As described in museum material, “A worn coat and a hat are hanging on a coat-stand, everyday objects which are reminiscent of the past epoch of the bourgeois world of coffeehouses. Reminding us of the golden mosaics in sacred rooms from past centuries, the golden wall gives rise to positive ideas: of hope, of a utopia which is not defined at greater detail and which – however uncertain – forms the background and mirror of human action. Jannis Jounellis, who only entitled few of his works, named this one Tragedia Civil, thus making the viewers perceive even more the installation as a picture of the theatre of the world.”
Another reason that I got touched with this piece was because it brought me back to my high school days and I become nostalgic of those old days. I remember coming across Jannis Kounellis back when I was 16 or so in my early days of discovering contemporary art. He had a great exhibition in Sarajevo and I had a chance to see it. Being placed in the burnt National Library, a symbol of science and survival, it really made a statement and impression.
Kounellis in Sarajevo, Vijecnica/National Library, Sarajevo, 2004