Michael Hamburger


Tacita Dean ( British, 1965 )

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General Description

Michael Hamburger profiles the poet and translator of the same name who meets writer W.G. Sebald in a chapter of his book, The Rings of Saturn. Rather than document the better-known aspects of Hamburger's biography, which include his flight from Nazi Germany in 1933 and his friendship with such literary luminaries as Sebald and Ted Hughes, Dean chooses to focus on Hamburger's deep and winningly idiosyncratic love of apples. Dean's entire film centers around this theme, from the opening shots of windswept apple trees to the eventual entry into Hamburger's rambling home, where his tables are covered with various kinds of apples, as well as books, papers, and other evidence of a life of the mind well and rigorously lived. As Hamburger recounts the story of each species of apple, we come to recognize the poetic solemnity of his singular interest in this fruit as perhaps a way or organizing and making sense of his world that has seen such tumult over the decades, and of avoiding — in a sense quietly renouncing — what he sees as the commercialization and coarseness of the world as it is today.

Adapted from

Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art), 2018, 123.