Special exhibit : Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe

We met in the somewhat cooler morning to see the special exhibit on Caravaggio in the Alte Pinakothek on Munich’s Museum Mile in Schwabing. The admission fee is at €12 with no reductions, but the works assembled are definitely worth it.

Caravaggio’s real name is Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the place his parents were from. Living from 1571 – 1610 in Italy, he is one of the greatest masters of painting light and shadow. Quite often the source of light is a candle or lantern, covered by an arm or shoulder, and giving all the faces around a beautiful golden glow and intensifying facial expressions.

Below is a video detail of Christ’s entombment / Christi Grablegung. This large painting is only given out on loan for a maximum of four weeks. Caravaggio also excelled in painting the muscles of the human body, the difficulties of carrying the heavy corpse to the tomb, the pale tones of the dead, the soft hues of the robes and linen cloths.

The map is one of Rome in the 17th century, the place all aspiring young men wanted to go to. There they could meet and greet other artists and copy their works – a copy was considered an honor in those days, although of course the ensuing work would have its own details, such as in St Peter’s crucifixion where St. Peter lifts his head before hanging upside down, one worker crawling under the cross to lift it on his back, the end of the beam hidden in folds of cloth unlike the original.

Many paintings shown here are by contemporary artists such as Hendrick ter Brugghen, Gerard van Honthorst, Dirck van Barburen, Jusepe de Ribera, Valentin de Boulogne and more.

Below are paintings of Jesus wearing his crown of thorns and the two men who are pushing the crown on with poles and gloves as if this was a regular job.

Above you can see Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple of merchants and money-lenders. Notice the grouping of the bad people to the left and Jesus’ heroic figure on the steps on the right.

Below you see a young lady or a gypsy with a young man, allegedly telling his fortune. Instead she is stroking his hand, a pleasant sensation, which will finally give her his ring off his finger.

The last paintings depict two young boys playing a flute. The right one is carefree with a recorder and loose-fitting clothes. The left one is seen from the back, anonymous, playing a transverse flute in the uniform of a soldier. These two paintings show a sharp contrast between the two situations, which is why the soldier boy is turned away. The flute player loved joyous music before, now he must play marches.

The Caravaggio exhibition really makes you look very much closer at all the details!

The Residenz garden with the Diana temple

Most people may only have seen the stone facade of the Residence on the side of the Max Joseph Platz with the adjacent buildings of the Residenztheater and the Opera, opposite the former red post office buildings and the little restaurants and boutiques on the fourth side, all surrounding the seated bronze statue of Prince Max I Joseph. Max I Joseph’s son, however, Ludwig, preferred the other side showing east to the Renaissance Court Gardens with English elements, and had his rooms furnished there.

The Diana Temple (photo supra) is said to have been erected in 1615 by Heinrich Schön the Elder. On fair days a grand piano is rolled inside and a pianist plays the lovely tunes of Chopin and Schumann to passers-by. To the southwest, the Residenz and the Herkulessaal, to the east the Theatinerkirche (Church of St. Cajetan) built by the Elector as a sign of gratitude for the birth of his heir, Prince Max Emanuel.

Around the Diana temple there are four fountains, to the north the Garden arcades with the Theater Museum, and to the south the Bayrische Staatskanzlei (Bavarian State Chancellery) which was destroyed in part during the Second World War and rebuilt in the mode of Italian High Renaissance.

The Court Gardens are a sunny and peaceful place for a stroll. In the summer dances take place, musicians play their instruments, early-birds practise yoga, people chat and eat and sit on the benches. The white roses exhale their sweet perfume and you can almost forget you are in the city.

Boom chak ! Cajón-mania

If you are wondering what the title is about, then you haven’t tried this fantastic method of reducing stress by rapping the rhythm, having heaps of fun hammering, strengthening your finger muscles when standing in traffic, learning to listen to the beat and simply losing yourself in a song. Too fun to be true?

My first encounter with this handcrafted wooden percussion “big box”, translation of the Spanish cajón (kah- HON) was at a Spanish guitar concert with this accompaniment. I was intrigued by the soft sonorous sound, the practical aspect of sitting atop one’s instrument and the convenient size and the astonishing array of rhythmic patterns or grooves a player can coax out of such a small box.

After the concert I started hunting around for lessons and found a great guy offering workshops, lessons and exquisitely crafted cajones made in Hungary. I soon became the proud owner of a lovely, deep sounding cajón that does not irk, but delights my neighbors, unlike any drum set or piano (no, I won’t settle for electronic devices, the sound is simply not the same).

Meanwhile I can tap out all sorts of basic grooves to the radio music that’s playing, I’ve become more coordinated and calmer, even a traffic jam is a welcome occasion to drum on the steering wheel and practise a new song. Boom! is for the bass, chak! is for the open in this hand-to-hand drumming. Ts! designates the in-between taps with your fingers. Not to forget tapping the basic beat with your foot. No worry, no knots. It’s a great way to relax. Just beat it!  For Munich I can recommend cajonworkshops.com and instruments from Cajón Studio.

My favorite Cuban drinks are, naturally, mojito, daiquiri and pina colada with fresh juices and Cuban rum. And of course, anything salsa or son. As to sun hats, I love those Chillouts made of paper, they are so lightweight and can be squashed into any bag. Enjoy the sun, people!