My Perfect Day
Dr. Matthias Harder
The chief curator of the Helmut Newton Foundation discusses the Berlin art scene.
You've worked as a curator with a wide variety of Berlin galleries and institutions. How would you characterize this city's art scene in general?
I got to know Berlin when it was still divided, when I moved from Kiel to the neighborhood of Neukölln in 1987. Back then, it was hard to imagine that the city could develop as it has. The art scene has since become incredibly lively and diverse, spanning everything from trash to high-end art. Today there are so many art spaces engaging both within
and beyond the art market.
Besides the Helmut Newton Foundation, which other places in the city do you like to visit to experience art or culture?
As a classically trained art historian and archaeologist, I love most of Museum Island and much of the Kulturforum. And I find it fantastic that C/O Berlin, one of the most exciting photo institutions in all of Germany, has moved into the former Amerika Haus, which is right next door to the foundation.
The foundation is located across from the Bahnhof Zoo station, a pretty iconic part of the city. What are some gems to discover in this neighborhood?
The entire area has undergone a bit of a transformation in recent years. The “good old West” is back, embodying a spirit that is both traditional and innovative. The UdK (University of the Arts) is around the corner, while Fasanenstraße and the area around Savignyplatz continue to have notable galleries. The Zoo Palast cinemas and BikiniHaus are also quite cool.
What are the most inspiring or exciting places in Berlin for you?
Magical moments can occur practically anywhere: during a morning walk through Tiergarten, or strolling down Kantstraße after dinner with old friends at the Paris Bar.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I spend time with my son, indulge in a game of tennis, or enjoy a more intensive visit to one of the many art shows in the city. For lunch, I often go from work to Schleusenkrug in Tiergarten (Müller-Breslau-Str.) or Kuchi (Kantstr. 30). If I’m in Mitte, I’ll go to Themroc ( Torstr. 183) for dinner or grab a pastrami sandwich at Mogg & Melzer (Auguststr. 11–13) during the day. I also like Sale e Tabacchi in Kreuzberg (Rudi-Dutschke-Str. 25).
When you have friends visiting you in Berlin, where do you take them?
The Monkey Bar in the 25hours Hotel is nice for drinks, or a pizza at the Café am Neuen See in Tiergarten. Many of my friends are culture geeks like myself, so in the evening we’ll go from art opening to art opening and then to the movies.
Could you share a special little spot in the neighborhood where you live?
Pankow is one of Berlin’s fastest-growing districts, mainly due to the influx of young families. I recommend the Schloßpark and the Schönhausen Palace next to it, where the East German government received state guests and where the “Round Table Talks” were held after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A visit there will take you on a crazy journey through time, from the Baroque period to German reunification.
Helmut Newton Foundation
Dr. Matthias Harder
C/O Berlin Gallery at Amerika Haus
Zoo Palast movie theater