The Ludwig Museum

After a weekend of museums and museums and not enough time for museums in Vienna, I realized that I’ve neglected to write about my favorite museum in Budapest so far — the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art. I was there in late January with a few friends for two pretty great exhibits. The first, showcasing Yona Friedman’s (unfulfilled) dreams of mobile cities and sustainable urban living, was one of the best I’ve seen this year. The curators had aptly named it “Architecture Without Building,” referring to the floating mazes of trusses at the core of Friedman’s vision of the modern city. Not only did this exhibit include Friedman’s extensive comic strips explaining urban survival and the flexibility of living, but it also offered two interactive installations that apportioned a small experience of the life Friedman imagined for city dwellers. For a few minutes or hours or the whole day, you could leave the building of the museum, step into the interior, imagine it just going up and up and up. Sit down for reading, water the plans, write down some thoughts at the kitchen counter. A terrific afternoon.

© DARABOS György / Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art, Archives

Reading about our new home, where helmets were a must and high heels absolutely forbidden.

The exhibit closed earlier this month, so my recommendation comes a bit too late. But if you have time to indulge in Friedman’s ideas, pleas do! He is a visionary. The intensity of his plans (on paper and on scaffolding) is inspiring. I must admit that I loved them all the more because they reminded me of the Russian Futurists and Constructivists, especially of Krutikov’s Flying City and the dreams of flight, escape, movement, and progress that these projects impart. Not a wholly sound comparison, sure, but I hope Kat will be my confidante in the sentiment. (Katya? Yes?)

© DARABOS György / Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art, Archives

Currently, the Ludwig Museum has a pretty interesting collection of Rita Ackerman’s works on display. If you go, take some time for the Fire by Days series, easily the most engaging part of the collection. I suggest delaying visits until March 9 to also see the works of János Megyik, a fellow with some odd ideas about spatiality.

The politics of architecture involved in both the Palace of Arts, which contains the Ludwig Museum, and the neighboring National Theatre, is something else to chew on, especially in the matrix of tightening political pressure on the cultural and educational spheres in Hungary. (Not to mention, you know, virtually every other imaginable sphere.) But those are musings for another day.


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