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Die Gastautoren Irene Mantel aus New York City und Ryan Gresham, Amerikaner und freiberuflicher Autor in Hamburg, schreiben und veröffentlichen in ihrer englischen Muttersprache. Wir finden, ihre Beiträge passen inhaltlich zu uns, geben neue Impulse von Aussen und sind eine Bereicherung.

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Strange Flatmates: Where the Fab Four Meet the Holy Trinity

St.Joseph Church in Hamburg-St.Pauli
Ein Beitrag von Ryan Gresham. Der ELBSALON.de hat einen neuen Autor. Ryan Gresham wird ab jetzt regelmäßig Beiträge schreiben. Ryan ist Amerikaner und lebt schon sehr lange im Hamburg. Er ist freiberuflicher Autor und schreibt am liebsten auf Englisch. Da sicherlich die meisten unserer Leser Englisch verstehen und sich unsere englischsprachigen Leser feuen werden, lassen wir die Texte im Original. Viel Spaß beim Lesen!

When John Lennon famously lobbed one of his PR grenades in the mid-60s by saying that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, he was, of course, just fudging: the ranks of Christians had swelled to over a billion by then, while Lennon’s quartet, already descending from their apex, hadn’t moved half that number of albums. Not bad from the ex-mop tops, naturally, but less messianic than reported.

One might wonder how many Beatles nuts, while sailing down Hamburg’s Große Freiheit from beginning to end some evening, recall Lennon’s comment. That’s because the well-worn St. Pauli jaunt, and one-time Lennon playground, starts at the Beatles memorial at the Reeperbahn intersection, but finishes (at least the really loud and lurid stretch of it) at another monument to superstardom: St. Joseph Catholic Church. Passersby will find the high brick facade of the rather diminutive Baroque chapel quietly watching over them from behind a low wall and iron gate – and, fittingly, staring down one of the Beatles’ earliest Hamburg haunts: Bruno Koschmider’s now legendary Kaiserkeller club across the street.

The picture is, of course, rife with weirdness: a shrine to Hamburg’s illegitimate English sons sparkles at one end of the road, while an homage to the Christian God’s one and only son hunkers down at the other; odd bookends on a kooky thoroughfare. In fact, a hall of worship silently lurking amid the neon and noise of an amped-up circus like the Große Freiheit is a good example of what makes Hamburg such an interesting town: a city where old and new often knock heads in a running spat over attention and relevancy.

St. Joseph – which will celebrate its 300th birthday not too long from now – was the first Catholic church built in northern Europe after the Reformation. It’s also a fine example of early 18th century, single-nave Baukunst. You might want to check it out for those reasons alone. But you might also want to drop by to see how, at least in this corner of the world, Jesus and rock and roll are getting on.

St. Joseph Church, Große Freiheit 43, Hamburg


Brad Mehldau – Jazz Piano & Chris Thile – Mandolin

Brad Mehldau, Photo: Michael Wilson
Der ELBSALON hat eine neue Gastautorin. Irene aus New York schickt uns einen Tipp direkt aus dem Big Apple.

In September this year the Brooklyn Academy of Music, arguably New York’s most exciting cultural venue, hosted a 50th anniversary celebration of Nonesuch Records.

Unexpected collaborations of musicians from different worlds have long been one of the hallmarks of the President of this excellent American record label, Bob Hurwitz. “A perfect situation happen when an artist plays music the listener loves and it is like nothing else,” says Mr. Hurwitz.

That was my experience when I heard renowned pianist Brad Mehldau play with mandolinist Chris Thile. It was riveting! A rare once-in-a lifetime experience.

Mr. Mehldau is a pianist who feels equally at home with symphonic orchestras as he does with his jazz colleagues. He moves seamlessly from one genre into the next, and he is revered among students at Juilliard as he is in jazz clubs. Mr. Thile is a progressive-bluegrass virtuoso mandolist. He is also the singer for the Punch Brothers. As a duo they make you come alive like nothing else. The kinetic Mr. Thile intermittently charms the audience with commentary and hops about the stage in an ecstatic kind of dance; Mr. Mehldau is the cerebral counterpart.

Whatever you think you are doing on November 5, make sure you are not missing this extraordinary musical event!

Brad Mehldau – Jazz Piano & Chris Thile – Mandolin
Wednesday November 5, 8 pm Elbphilharmonie Konzerte, Laeiszhalle Hamburg / Kleiner Saal

MAX BECKMANN: Not So Still Life

Autor: Ryan Gresham. You’re likely to spot something familiar staring at a Max Beckmann. You might, for instance, catch something like Braque’s facets slicing through one of Beckmann’s more drearily hued canvases, giving it that otherworldly look of a church’s stained glass on an overcast day. Or maybe one of Gaugin’s reclining Polynesians seems to peek out at you from behind what could be a palm frond every now and then. Beckmann even packs some of his stuff with enough writhing, elongated bodies in washed-out tones to give them that haunted feel of an El Greco, minus the juicy, religious melodrama. Despite his noted railings against peers and predecessors, Beckmann’s influences are usually tough to miss.

And then there are the famous self-portraits – nearly a hundred in all – with many sporting a dour expression as steely and businesslike as those found in commissioned oil paintings of turn-of-the-century American corporate magnates – a no-nonsense aesthetic that, in fact, the anti-romantic Neue Sachlichkeit movement (which Beckmann was grudgingly linked to) paid homage to.

Which brings us to Beckmann’s still lifes. What about them? Are they just derivative takes on that most fruitful of artistic staples? Do they warrant the wattage of a full exhibition? The Hamburger Kunsthalle has kindly trotted out a nice selection to help you make up your mind. And while many pieces might not, upon first perusal, seem to offer the same aesthetic intrigues as Beckmann’s other work: Keep looking.

In any potent still life, dull objects yield a hidden, animated existence under the artist’s careful examination. And in Beckmann’s case, this gaze (yes: cast upon fruit, fish, and pipes, among the usual suspects) routinely unearths that special brand of cataclysmic turbulence big in the West near the opening of the 20th century. It’s as if, traumatized by an apocalyptic cynicism – born of witnessing two world wars and the crumbling of the Weimar Republic; being branded a “degenerate artist” by Hitler; fleeing first Germany for The Netherlands and later Europe for America – Beckmann flipped on its head the favorite form of his beloved Cezanne by sandblasting it free of any romantic veneer – ditching any hint of a calming, ethereal sfumato – and rendered his subjects as if under the harsh glare of a military spotlight. Life, sure; but “still” is certainly the wrong word for these.

You’ll spot a lot looking at any Max Beckmann. And if you stare well enough at some of his still lifes, you’ll find more than just a bloodless homage to the form: You’ll catch plenty of the jaded artist himself, as well as his scary time and place – and probably more than a bit of yourself.


Max Beckmann. The Still Lifes
Hamburger Kunsthalle
5 September 2014 – 18 January 2015