"...Because communication done well can be called art and because art is a beautiful form of communication that goes beyond any prejudice and constraint. Because It’s Art Darling, It’s Art!"

It’s Art darling, it’s Art !

by Anca Ungureanu


Why travel for art?

It’s 10 pm on a Friday evening and I am sitting down in front of my computer, quietly and comfortably installed at a vintage desk, in my weekend rental apartment situated in Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood. Berlin became my favorite city in Europe throughout the last 4 years, while I was part of the Creative Leadership MBA, which mainly takes place in the city. The time I spent there unraveled Berlin as the most dynamic, uber-cool and eclectic city in Europe at this moment.

Scrolling down through the thoughts I had today, I realized there are certain cities in this world where it’s worth travel for art. Among Paris and London, Berlin is by far my favorite, maybe because here you can find contemporary art and site specific interventions almost everywhere, from institutional locations to unconventional project spaces, displaying young fresh “meat” artists.

While scouting for event locations for my daily job, I found art in the most unexpected places. This made my journey unforgettable and made me think traveling for art really pays off: it nourishes your eyes, mind, and soul. It’s cheaper than shopping (a lot of art can be seen for free) and sometimes it even caters for your body’s needs, especially when you experience it in an unconventional location, such as a gourmet restaurant.

Hotel de Rome is currently displaying a few of Olivia Steel’s neon installations, an artist I recently discovered. She “lives in a world of fantasy.” She uses neon lighting to charge spaces with ironic meanings, producing intimate statements that often question our every day modern life. “I see what I want, I want what I see, and that’s all ok for me” makes you feel that you enter into a new world, not in a 5 star hotel. The juxtaposition of her neon works and their environment provokes the mind.

“Good, bad, right or wrong, art its all relative, (…) and observing the vast spectrum of strangers’ reactions and interpretations is highly rewarding.” I wonder if she was hiding somewhere in the room, sipping from a cup of chamomile tea, while I as making a poker face when I saw her “if less is more, than I want nothing” neon installation. “Art has to be provocative, it has to stimulate our thoughts”, she candidly says.


Olivia Steele installation for Hotel de Rome – photo Anca Ungureanu

So provocative that makes you feel even hungrier than you might think you were, while arriving at “La Soup Populaire”. The place is located in an old warehouse and invites to Dine and Fine…Art with the current exhibition of Eva Hassmann’s 24 HOURS.  The Studio House is a fascinating symbiosis of contemporary and culinary art, located in an unexpected site, that mixes up vintage furniture and smooth design lighting. Hassmann “subjective photography” is focusing more on the situations in which the objects are displayed and they provoke the viewers to generate their own interpretations of the artistic result.  The colors of her art are vivid and shadowed in the same time and the pieces are displayed in a sequence that makes you think they are part of something bigger, that was cut into smaller parts.

Main hall “La Soup Populaire” filled with artworks of Eva Hassman – photo Anca Ungureanu

Before Berlin, it was Vienna that made me think that every time we travel we must also do it for art, Because you never know when your eyes can meet history in the making. I had to rush between my flights and a meeting, to still be able to get in the Mumok museum during opening hours, which I finally managed and I was rewarded with almost 2 full hours of pop art. I found my way to the MUMOK quite easily, even if it’s located in an unexpected place: in the yard of the former stables of the King’s palace, a classical ensemble that surrounds the museum like a soldier. In the middle of it there was this immense grey piece of rock, rising beautifully.

“Ludwig goes pop” was the biggest pop art exhibition I’ve ever seen. Unmatched anywhere else in the world, Ludwig’s collection has been brought together for the first time from the various European institutions where it is housed. Books, records, films along with pieces of work of immense value, embedded the exhibition in a broader context of art history and popular culture.

When Peter & Irene Ludwig discovered American Pop Art in the mid 60’s, it was not yet well known in Germany or Europe. The pop art movement actually reached the European audience at a larger scale in 1964, during the Venice Biennale and Documenta 4 in Kassel in 1968. The Ludwigs were interested more in the high point of the pop art movement and thanks to this, here I was, standing silently in front of artworks that made history and that I’ve only managed to see in albums or magazines. Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol were smiling to me from all over the place.

I am fascinated by Pop Art for one good reason: that has very much to do with my work in Marketing & Communication. Pop art emerged from the 60’s advertising works for various brands and reflects the 60’s attitude towards life and is taken from the everyday world of the modern society shaped by consumption and the media. Pop artists created their work as a reaction to the commercialization of postwar society and the increasing prevalence of mass media such as television, advertising and magazines. The pop artists were interested in packaging, external appearance, and clichés and they used to express all these through photography, film and comics and raised them to the status of art.

andy warhol

Andy Warhol “Campbells Soup” – photo Anca Ungureanu


Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol – photo Anca Ungureanu

Actually the Pop Art was not born in the US, as one should think. The precursor of pop art in Britain, was the Independent group of Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi, founded at the beginning of the 1950’s at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. The members of the group were very much interested in the urban culture, science fiction and music, as well as in the developing field of science and technology. Hamilton, often described as the father of Pop Art, marks the beginning of the movement with his collage from the 1956 “Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?”

One of my favorites, “Trafalgar Square”, which is based on a postcard, takes images from everyday life and reinterprets them in a combination of photography and oil painting.

Richard Hamilton “Trafalgar Square” – photo Anca Ungureanu

British Pop moved to US along with David Hockney in 1962, which was the starring role in Ken Russel’s television documentary about Pop Art “Pop goes the easel”. But more about Hockney’s work and his “Bigger exhibition” at the de Young Museum, in another of my posts.

David Hockney

David Hockney

I end here my story of traveling for art in Berlin & Vienna.
Yes Art is provocative and it is worth traveling for.

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