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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Berggruen Museum, Berlin

There are so many extraordinary museums to see in Berlin but if you are a fan of modern art the Berggruen Museum is well worth seeking out. I loved it and I highly recommend a visit. This is a charming museum with an impressive collection that is beautifully housed in a period mansion in Charlottenburg across from the Schloss Charlottenburg palace. The museum is delightful ipartly because it is the  vision of a single man; art dealer and collector Heinz Berggruen  who sold his collection to the government at a reduced price in the mid 1990's.  The collection is particularly strong in works by Picasso, as well as Klee, Braque, Matisse and Giacometti. In fact it's spectacular, room after room of masterpieces and when I was there it was almost empty, what a delight!
I highly recommend the audio tour which was  informative and (as at most museums we visited in Berlin) included in the ticket price. We used our three day museum pass for free entrance, we normally eschew tourist passes but I have to say this one is an amazing deal. 
The collection is magnificent and it traces Picasso's work and the influences and collaboration with others including Braque. You can also see the changing faces of his muses including his lover Dora Maar represented below.
These works have an extraordinary impact when seen right next to each other.Interestingly Berggruen also donated a large number of works by Paul Klee to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.Here in Berlin you can also see a number of the works he collected by Klee and the relationship between these works and Picasso's work is highlighted.
There is also a magnificent room housing works  by Matisse including this later cut out work below. I love the vibrancy of the colors, it's so distinctive.
You can see the same energy in this cover image for the Paris based modernist magazine Verve above.
In addition there are works from earlier in Matisse's career.
I always enjoy  Picasso works that referentially represent classic pictures from the past -  as other artists have done for centuries. Below is a "Portrait of a Woman after Cranach the Younger". If this is familiar, it's because this was one of Picasso's earliest linocuts and the image is found in many other international collections, including MOMA. 
In addition to works referencing the Old Masters, Picasso was also heavily influence by classical themes as you can see below and in his Minatour prints. I love the disruptive juxtaposition of modernity and classicism below.
There is just so much to admire here from prints to drawings, pastels and paintings.
The pastel neo-classical work by Picasso below was completed in 1921 and is unimaginatively titled, "Seated Nude Drying Her Foot". Again the work is a referential nod to earlier compositions by Renoir and other artist.
Interestingly, the work was marked with a sign indicate a potential problem with ownership. The annotation reads, "The circumstances under which this picture changed hands between 1933 and 1945 are currently  the subject of a research paper." What exactly does this mea, whose research paper and why? Is the ownership under dispute, is there a court case, what do they know and what are the claims? I couldn't find any additional information on the work, but it made me both uncomfortable and  curious.
Several rooms feature African sculpture which influence Cubist artists such as Picasso. These were contemporary pieces and they are beautifully displayed next to the art they influenced as you can see above.
Obviously Picasso's work is incredibly diverse and the museum features major pieces in many different styles from many  decades of his career. The work below were from the earlier part of his career.
One of the upstairs rooms explored the close relationship between Braque and Picasso. Indeed, at certain period it's difficult to distinguish their works they were so closely aligned aesthetically. 
Looking back through my photos was a reminder of how rich the museum holdings are. It's hard to believe how quiet the museum was - given the collection it houses. 
The architecture of the building is also striking. The positioning of this classic Giacometti at the base of the circular staircase is masterful. It is beautifully situated to bid you  both "hello" and "goodbye".

If you are in Berlin I highly recommend a visit to the Berggruen  if you are interested in modern art in general and/or Picasso's work in particular.

Practical Note: Your ticket to the Berggruen includes admission to the surrealist collection at the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg across the road. I was particularly sorry to miss the  the gate from the Temple of Kalabsha in the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg. These Egyptian antiquities were  a gift of the  Egyptian government following the flooding of the Aswan dam region. I was particularly interested as we had visited the relocated Temple of Kalabsha on our recent visit to Egypt. I also love the idea of Egyptian antiquities in a surrealist museum!?!!
D. loved the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg, unfortunately I didn't have time to see it as I wanted to explore the Art Nouveau and Art Deco collections at the nearby Brohan Museum. I'll cover their decorative arts collection in an upcoming post.