Post-script to Berlin Station 1.5: Grieshaber or Grieshaber knockoff?
I had mentioned here that I find the topic of interior decoration as a piece of authenticity interesting. Last night I was looking at this frame:
and I mentioned the photo that referred to Esther Krug’s Junge Pioniere / FDJ past. I was intrigued by the larger print, though, so I sent this cap to ex-SO because it reminded me of some art that his (West) German parents had in their living room by a twentieth-century German print artist, H. A. P. Grieshaber. I didn’t look super hard, but I didn’t find this image attributed to him anywhere. What points in that direction are the graphic features of the image, the motif of the falling angel, and the colors. Speaking against it (apart from the fact that I couldn’t identify it) is the way the leg seems to fall out of the frame of the print.
Amusingly to me, ex-SO said about the frames of the family pictures that they were “too bourgeois” for the GDR. Ex-SO was skeptical that a family from East Berlin would have photos of Communist-related events in silver frames. (I don’t think they’re silver; I think they’re stamped metal.) Grieshaber was “left enough” that you can imagine a regime-compliant GDR family having one of his prints in their apartment, at least ideologically, but after the mid-1960s days his new work was not cheap, and now his works can go for prices from €1,500 — €25,000. As I joked to ex-SO, maybe her family was Reisekader (the class of East Germans legally permitted to leave the country because they were considered ideologically invulnerable to temptations in the West).
But in any case, the implication at the beginning of the scene that Esther’s apartment is a family inheritance (“my family’s been in Germany for a long time” — itself an odd statement, it would make more sense to say “my family’s been in Berlin for a long time,” as most German families have been in Germany for a long time) jars a bit with the idea that she has a spotless GDR childhood. The GDR worked hard to get private property out of the hands of its citizens, although it’s conceivable that she was able to get the apartment back after 1989, if the property was seized involuntarily. The whole question of what happened to property in East Germany after 1989 is an endlessly complicated one, because it involved addressing not only GDR-era seizures but also resolving many seizures from the National Socialist period (whose expected heirs were sometimes dead or no longer living in Germany, and some of whom had signed settlement agreements under duress and so on) and ensuing transfers and/or reparations payments to the original owners after the end of the GDR. I remember staying in several hotels as late as 1994 where signs apologized for the state of the premises and explained that the hotel operators were waiting to begin renovations until the law established to whom the property belonged.
Or maybe she just bought the art after 1989. But that would imply her family is quite wealthy. I’m again torn (given how many niggling things are popping up in this show, bit by bit) between seeing this as a clue that her backstory isn’t quite right, and thinking it’s just a continuity question.
Or maybe it’s an artist ex-SO and I didn’t recognize, and it’s more easily associated with the GDR?