The cuckoo clock makes a comeback

Derided by many at pure kitsch not too long ago, the cuckoo clock is experiencing something of a renaissance. Artists, designers and clock manufacturers are now reinterpreting this so-very-German product.

The cuckoo clock makes a comeback
Photo: DPA

Once relegated to the walls of grandma’s house or a box in the cellar, the dusty image of the cuckoo clock is getting a polish as the traditional timekeepers get very modern makeovers. Their popularity is growing and their price tags are skyrocketing.

For example, artist Stefan Strumbel has found international success with his new takes on the clocks. Along with the traditional oak leaves and animals on the housing, Strumbel adds skulls, hand grenades, rats and submachine guns. He has expanded the color palettes of his clocks beyond the traditional dark or light browns to include yellows, greens, purples and pinks.

His clocks, which sell for up to €25,000, were the subject of a photo shoot by designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Ingolf Haas of the clock manufacturing company Rombach and Haas has been working on redesigns of the cuckoo clock for several years now. He said he started reworking the timekeepers when he realised that while people’s homes have changed over the decades, the cuckoo clock had gotten stuck in time.

“A cuckoo clock decorated with the head of a stag is just not going to be a good fit anymore,” he said.

Four years ago, he and designer Tobias Reischle began developing modern versions, using a minimalist aesthetic.

Now some 50 percent of his company’s turnover comes from the new cuckoo clocks. He saw overall sales volume increase 30 percent in 2009, while many other clockmakers are struggling to stay afloat.

For years, most of his clocks were sold to customers in the US, although the strong euro has now turned them into luxury goods for Americans. He notes that the clocks have begun selling well in Germany, although his more traditional-minded compatriots tend to turn their noses up at the new versions.

The clocks have a long history, having been mentioned as far back as 1629. In around 1730, they began to be made in Germany’s Black Forest region, and really hit their stride in the mid 19th century, when they became more and more elaborate.

After the Second World War, American soldiers stationed in Germany often sent cuckoo clocks home to their families.

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Eight online events in Germany not to miss in February 2021

With tougher Covid-19 restrictions now in place in Germany, travelling and socialising have become increasingly limited. So we’ve compiled a list of fun events for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home!

Eight online events in Germany not to miss in February 2021
The entrance to Berlin's Alte Nationalgallerie. Photo: DPA

Here are some events and ongoing activities to look out for in February.

Berlin Philharmonic returns to the 1920s, Saturday, February 13th 2021 at 6:45pm

Berliner Philharmoniker is streaming the 1920s First Symphony Opera, one of German composer Kurt Weill’s early performances. 

As described by the orchestra, this piece’s music is “captivating and triumphant”. The music was composed in 1927 and its story takes place in ancient Greece. 

Final Girls Film Festival, February 4th at 1pm to February 8th at 11:59pm

Final Girls Berlin Film Festival showcases horror cinema that’s directed, written, or produced by women and non-binary filmmakers. 

The festival is committed to creating space for female voices and visions, whether monstrous, heroic or some messy combination of the two, in the horror genre.

Berliner Festspiele, Strong Pieces Stream, Until March 

Berliner Festspiele is showing two of their top picks.

“The Misanthrope” is a Molière’s classic staged by Anne Lenk, and translated by Jürgen Gosch and Wolfgang Wiens. It’s been called a straightforward delight with an exceptional concentration of language and wit. 

And “Man appears in the Holocene” is staged by Alexander Giesches after Max Frisch’s novella about mankind’s Sisyphus-struggle against their own doom.

König Gallerie, 'Dreaming of Alligator Head' by Claudia Comte, January 21st 2021- January 12th 2022

With her digital solo exhibition Dreaming of Alligator Head, Comte creates a scenario that is impossible in reality: She plants her underwater sculpture park in the König Gallerie app. The digital visitors inside experience a fascinating underwater world without having to go on a physical journey. 

Comte also seeks to raise awareness of marine environments and ask how an artistic object can change the world. Check out the exhibition on the König Gallerie app. 

Galerie Tanja Wagner, How to be human, until February 13th 2021 

Celebrating 10 years of the opening of her contemporary art gallery, Tanja Wagner’s exhibition, How to Be Human showcases her personal favourite works of artists she has collaborated with.

It includes Grit Richter’s famous work, Das Letzte Wort, as well as other works that in Wagner’s opinion, seek to explore the question ’How to Be Human’. 

Alte Nationalgalerie Online, until further notice

The Alte Nationalgalerie was set up as a “sanctuary for art and science”. The idea for a national gallery was realised after the donation of a collection of paintings by Caspar David Friedrich to the Prussian state. 

Since Covid-19 has made it difficult to visit the otherwise very popular museum, the gallery has made its collection available online until further notice. 

Naturkundemuseum Berlin, Beats and Bones Podcast and Livestream, Mondays at 7pm, until further notice 

Berlin’s Naturkundemuseum is offering a podcast series where nature experts from the museum answer questions about the diversity of nature, evolution, the formation of the earth, climate change and insect death.

They explore questions such as “Who knows our earliest ancestors were 480 million-year-old jawless fish?” Or, ‘What is the Achilles heel of Tyrannosaurus rex’? 

Catch new episodes every Monday on Instagram, along with a live stream through the museum with experts accompanying you through the collection and exhibition. The previous episodes are available on Spotify as well as Youtube. 

Anne Frank Zentrum, All about Anne, until further notice 

The Anne Frank Zentrum's exhibition “All about Anne” is normally presented at Hackescher Markt in Berlin-Mitte. Since lockdown, the exhibition has been made available online. 

Its exhibition tells the story of Anne Frank's life and the time in which she lived. It also explains why her diary is so well-known today and shows that her thoughts are still relevant.