Postcard from Frankfurt, Germany: Belated greetings via Trockel’s art

Above: “Living Means Learning to Appreciate Your Mother Nude,”* Rosemarie Trockel, photograph pasted onto a three-dimensional scene, 2001

A young woman lies on the floor absorbed in viewing a group of slides. She looks relaxed, her ankles are crossed, and she is wearing only underwear and a sweater. So domestic and secure does the scene seem, that catching sight of the woman like this seems strangely voyeuristic…. the photograph of the young woman seems to come alive in the mind’s eye…. one’s own life…is rooted in the sexuality of another human being.*

“Rosemarie Trockel,” Museum fur Moderne Kunst (MMK) catalogue for retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work from the 1970s through 2022

Happy Mother’s Day? (Or perhaps the title of the artwork above does not automatically qualify it as appropriate for the day?)

Wandering through Frankfurt’s modern art museum, MMK, I kept finding myself checking and checking the labels. Could these really all be created by the same artist? Yes.

German-born Rosemarie Trockel, a contemporary of ours, refuses to be boxed in by any traditional categorization of her art. The major retrospective of the internationally renowned artist at MMK makes it obvious that she throws off all constraints, leaping freely from one medium to the next throughout her career.

Some of the works, such as the binocular-wielding voyeur below, appear site-specific, and MMK is quite the site. The curation of the exhibition and the interior spaces interact in a complimentary fashion, so much so that it seems hard to imagine the architecture without the art, and vice versa.

Often described as a “slice of cake,” the triangular-shaped museum was designed by a key figure of post-modern architecture, Hans Hollein (1934-2014). The Austrian architect completed his Master of Architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, so his work was influenced by both American and European architects.

While we ate no slices of cake during our brief overlay in Frankfurt, we did require some sustenance. We did not have much time for any research first, so ended up trusting where the locals in the historic center seemed headed.

That first day, the day of travel when you have been awake for some absurd number of hours, we stumbled into the gemutliche, or cozy, Mainkai Cafe. We ordered a falafel salad, koftekeller and a pint. But the main reason I’m writing about it is the owner. She was so friendly and welcoming that these Texans would not have been surprised if she called us honey.

Our waitress at the equally bustling Metropol am Dom was the same way, and maybe she did call us that in German. Okay, we were on our way to Italy, so what kind of food would be the last you’d think we’d order? But, hey, the specials of the day led us to a pretty respectable osso buco and a risotto. That barley and fresh herb risotto was so good, I might have to seek a repeat on our way back home.

And what could look more cozy and homelike for breakfast than Iimori Patisserie?

*Rest assured, dear daughter, that the above relates to Mother’s Day thematically only. I pledge not to pose for any photos without a major surplus of clothing, if I am captured at all. Obviously, the mother featured in Trockel’s artwork bears no relationship to my current appearance, as reflected in the company of a monkey (No, I am not insulting your father but am referring to the subject of one of the photos that is part of the artist’s work.). And I am ever so happy I no longer have to sort through mountains of slides after travels, says your mother as she compulsively begins to wade through and edit hundreds of digital images taken during the past month.

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