Rule of Three


Jewish Museum Berlin

designed by Daniel Libeskind

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The full extent of the Jewish Museum Berlin's angular contortion can only be viewed from above, revealed by aerial photographs. At ground level, its strong, jagged form is intensified by slashed graphic openings in the zinc-wrapped walls. The cuts imbue the building with a sense of palpable aggression, mirroring the violence experienced by European Jews. Libeskind's design denies visitors the opportunity to meander aimlessly about the exhibitions. Instead, a clearly delineated course is set out for them, with the museum's contents and concepts complemented both by the scarred walls outside and the curated space within.

Words by Katherine Fieldgate


by Francesca Woodman

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A severed door segues from a scoop of light, a dark, flat flake bluntly puncturing its fragile camber. Teetering heavily on a single point, raised to meet the wall at its far edge, the warped rectangle paves the way to a false vanishing point. Following its course to a mirage horizon, our gaze collides with the solid surface of peeling plaster, breaking off from brick to reveal ripe asbestos. The excised film of a threshold posing as a road, the door has left its former frame hollow and bereft of purpose. The corporeal cut-out contrasts with the shed skin of its negative twin, our eye snaking over each sibling shape in turn.

Words by Elizabeth Brown

Composition 22

by Sonia Delaunay

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Thick, black and grey lines zip back and forth, forming a loose pattern. Encased within the spaces between them are tessellated parallelograms, which follow a sequence of bold colours: salmon pink, yellow, and red. Standing out against the duller triangles at the artwork’s edges, they draw the viewer’s attention to the centre of the canvas, and imbue the painting with an irresistible cheerfulness. Despite the jagged repetitions, the geometry seems neither strict nor restrictive. The strokes are not uniform; they fray and bulge, prompting the viewer to imagine the paintbrush being dragged across the surface. The thick, uneven white border, similarly, is unconcerned with its imperfections. Through the liveliness of Composition 22, Sonia Delaunay shows that abstraction need not be self-serious.

Words by Katherine Fieldgate

Today's connection

Zigzags feature heavily in the Jewish Museum Berlin and Composition 22. Francesca Woodman’s work was shown posthumously in an exhibition called Zigzag.

More to discover

Jewish Museum Berlin: Read more information about the building on Daniel Libeskind’s website here. Jessica Mairs has interviewed Daniel Libeskind for Deezen.

Francesca Woodman: Read about the artist’s exhibition Zigzag on the Victoria Miro gallery website.

Composition 22: Read about Sonia Delaunay on the Tate website here, and on the Phaidon website here.

Question of the day

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