Want to scratch that cultural itch without missing out on your vitamin D? From leafy classics in the City West to a pool-side gallery in Wedding, we guide you through the best spots for viewing art in the sunshine.
Georg Kolbe Museum: A sculptor’s retreat
On the edges of Berlin’s plush Grunewald forest stands the former home and studio complex of revered German sculptor Georg Kolbe. Built in 1929, this modernist jewel is now the location of the Georg Kolbe Museum, the only museum dedicated to sculpture in Berlin. Kolbe’s expressive, dark-bronze sculptures, on display in the walled garden, include the famed ‘Dancing Girl Fountain’, which was spirited out of Berlin by a Bulgarian diplomat during World War II and only returned in 1978 thanks to the hard work of the artist’s heirs, as well as the ‘Frauenstatue’, a sombre, looming sculpture believed to feature the face of Kolbe’s wife Benjamine, who died tragically young.
Kolbe maintained his artistic independence throughout the war, even dodging a request to produce a bust of the Führer. Nevertheless, his idealised portrayals of athletic womanhood were favoured by Goebbels for being modernist but never quite crossing into ‘decadence’. Just a five-minute walk away, you’ll also find the Georg-Kolbe-Hain, a park featuring some of the artist’s larger sculptures.
Sensburger Allee 25, Westend, open every day from 10–18, entry €7
Liebermann-Villa am Wannsee: Lakeside impressionism
Cast your eye across the waters from the busy Strandbad Wannsee and you’ll see the former summer residence of Germany’s most famous modernist painter, Max Liebermann. Once home to a hospital and then a diving club, the Liebermann-Villa and its grounds were painstakingly restored and opened to the publicin 2006 as a museum dedicated to this German-Jewish painter. A highly celebrated portraitist, he reached the pinnacle of Berlin’s cultural life, only to see his rights stripped away by the Nazis. He died before the real horrors of World War II began; his family were not so lucky, and that history is written out across the villa in both English and German.
The painter’s studio, with its barrel-vaulted ceiling, is now a gallery and you can stand in front of his works looking out through the windows at the same views he painted, like the kitchen garden and high linden hedge. There is a cafe with a small but good selection of food and drinks which you can take right down to the water’s edge where tables and chairs are provided. Anyone who wants to delve further into Germany’s history can take the short walk to the House of the Wannsee Conference. Today a museum, it’s where the Nazis planned the annihilation of European Jewry.
Colomierstraße 3, Wannsee, open every day except Tuesday from 12-18, entry €6
Haus am Waldsee: On the lawn
Nestled among the impressive modernist villas of Charlottenburg-Nord, the Haus am Waldsee’s sculpture park provides an unparalleled chance to enjoy art in idyllic nature. Positioned on the banks of the Waldsee, with boats sailing by and ducks foraging in the reeds, at times you’ll be hard-pressed to remember you’re still in Berlin. At over 10,000sqm, the park showcases a diverse range of contemporary sculptors, from a startling work by Lynn Chadwick from the 1990s to a more recent sculpture by Angela Bulloch, whose stack of steel rhombuses rise incongruously out of the earth.
Many of the works can be deceptive. Anyone unfamiliar with the work of Thomas Rentmeister could easily dismiss his ‘Depot: gestern’ as a discarded stack of refrigerators (which is exactly what it is). Sculptures are concealed behind trees and pavilions seem part of the infrastructure, like Francis Zeischegg’s recreation of a DDR hut camouflaged as a wood pile. The museum has just opened an exhibition by Christiane Löhr, whose delicate, entirely organic constructs use vegetation sourced from the sculpture park. You can also hire bikes and take an audio guide (German only) to view the nearby modernist architecture of Walter Gropius or, a little further along, the vibrant colours of the Bruno Taut Siedlung.
Argentinische Allee 30, Zehlendorf, open Tue-Sun from 11-18, entry €7 (family tickets available)
TROPEZ im Sommerbad Humboldthain: Art with a splash (ended 5.9.2021)
Combine a refreshing dip in Sommerbad Humboldthain with a visit to the TROPEZ, a kiosk turned art space. While it still sells the usual chips with mayo, this gallery has also been putting on surprisingly good annual art exhibitions since it opened in 2017. This year’s offering, a new group show called Touche-Moi, is no exception. With its dense and charmingly chaotic blend of sculptures, textiles and wall works, it provides an intriguing take on the theme of touch and contact – sensations that have been off-limits for so long.
With works sprawling out over the terrace and onto the grass, part of the fun is distinguishing the exhibition from the typical Freibad furniture: like the refurbished beach chairs from the Bless Collective, or the painted ice cream sign by Manuel García Díaz, which stands in stark contrast to the industrially produced advertising around the kiosk. Some of the work strikes a more serious note, but with such proximity to the yelps of dive-bombing children, it’s not always easy to judge.
Wiesenstraße 1, Gesundbrunnen, open every day 10-18, entry €3.80 with Sommerbad Humboldthain ticket