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In the midst of one of the typically uninspired reinstallations of the permanent collection at Berlin’s Neue National Galerie, Otto Piene’s Lichtraum is literally and figuratively a beacon of light. Assembled using four separate shadow- and light-generating devices produced between 1961 and 1994, the room sparkles with shifting arrays of luminous pinhole patterns complemented by forms that look like spiders gyrating gracefully along the walls. Produced with just a few moving lights and simple boxes, the fluid and engaging actions of Lichtraum are enveloping in a way that most computer animation can only dream of being.

Munich’s new Pinakothek der Moderne fully looks the part of a modern art museum: dramatic and vastly impersonal spaces that confer authority on whatever happens to be presented within it. Fortunately, most of the work on view would hold its own no matter where it was presented. Particularly notable are the collection of works by Max Beckmann and a short film loop by Theresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler in which small girl wanders through the storm-drenched aftermath of a birthday party.

- Ed Osborn [Thursday, December 26th, 2002]

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