Who: Vicky Leandros Where: Café Grosz, Berlin When I ask…
Who: Judith Milberg, Artist
Judith Milberg is multitasking and multitalented. She studied art history and Egyptology, was an art manager and designer. And has her own TV shows. And yes, she is also the wife of actor Axel Milberg and the mother of three sons. In the exhibition “Aus der Mitte”, Judith Milberg has just presented 40 of her paintings to the public. I meet the lively, cheerful artist for a tea at her home in Munich. Passing her studio, with which she spread out over the entire ground floor over the years, we go up to the kitchen, where Judith Milberg pours the tea water into her favorite pot. In the living room of the Milbergs, which is arranged in a creative mix of old and new, with many books and pictures, one chats like with a familiar friend. “Meet me for Tea” with a very likeable woman.
MyStylery: Judith, you are a typical Munich child. Did you ever live somewhere else?
Judith Milberg: I am like a wren, when ignoring short stays in New York and Berlin. I love my Munich. Here I know my baker already since childhood. This familiarity is also a feeling of home. The time of TV series “Monaco Franze” and the Munich of the 80s I still find in many places again.
MS: Your husband is from Kiel in Germany’s North.
JM: Axel has been here for 35 years, naturalized so to speak.
MS: How is a typical day at the Milberg’s?
JM: When my husband is at home, the common breakfast means the greatest happiness. We enjoy our common moments, which are not disturbed by anyone. Actors are working both on days where there is no filming as well as on shooting days. Without a break, the phone rings with requests for interviews and synchronizing. After breakfast, Axel reads new scripts and I go to my studio. For lunch and dinner we get together again. The shared meals play an important role for us. Here, the mobile phones are turned off and it is spoken.
MS: Your youngest son lives with you. Your older sons are already grown up …
JM: … and they’re very tall guys. Hence, there are conclusions drawn to my age quickly. I always say: one will be 14 in two weeks and the other 15. You can imagine the confused faces of my counterparts. (Laughs)
MS: With my daughters, the looks no longer apply to me, but to my girls. There is also a need to get used to it.
JM: Oh, that’s bad. But then there is compliments: who is the mother and who the daughter.
MS: True, but I’m not sure if I want to hear that. By the way, when you google, interesting terms pop up: patchwork family, multi talent, celebrity wife. You do not seem to be the type that can be reduced to the latter.
JM: Not at all. Axel and I are on the same level in every respect.
MS: You are together since 25 years. Was your man back then already as prominent as today?
JM: When we met, Axel was at the “Münchner Kammerspiele” theatre and had a name as an actor here in Munich. I am proud and humble about his great success, Axel is simply an expert.
MS: You were then set up by a friend and you married in 2004, you have already been together for eleven years at that point. Did you need so long to be sure of each other?
JM: Axel proposed to me every year. And I did the same. But every time something intervened. This has already become the ‘Running Gag’. When our son August was born, we wanted to get married at the end of December 2004. Then there was this terrible tsunami. We thought, “It can not happen”, and cancelled the whole thing. In the last minute however, we got married in a small circle.
MS: Many celebrity marriages are breaking apart. What is your secret?
JM: We are the most important people to each other. Partners in thought exchange, confidants, consultants regarding topics. With Axel, I feel complete. Life is a single madness, the more important is the mutual pause and exchange. And we quickly get to the point.
MS: Your husband is a so-called person of public life. How is that when you are on the move together?
JM: He’s someone who makes himself almost invisible. He does not need the big performance. When he enters a room, then quietly. Of us, I am the extrovert, the lute, always right in the middle and in the conversation. My husband looks at everything from the side, but very curious.
MS: Was it difficult to find and position yourself with such a successful partner?
JM: We have such different professions and I am endowed with a healthy self-confidence so that there has never been a competition for me. This is also due to him and his attitude towards himself and his profession.
MS: Do you measure yourself at the success of the other?
JM: I think that is a problem for many couples. I am fortunate that my husband appreciates what I do, supports and encourages me in my projects as an artist, art historian and in my TV shows such as “Milberg & Wagner”. If I decided tomorrow to become a dairy farmer, Axel would be glad to go with me. We are passionate about one another.
MS: You’ve been painting for many years, recently one could see your pictures for the first time in exhibitions in Munich, Kiel and Berlin.
JM: Actually amazing, because I’ve been working on my whole life with art and painting since my childhood.
MS: Have you settled with your painting or is there something new coming?
JM: It has always been painting. Although I have also pursued different career paths, for example as an art manager, the bottom line is always my passion for images.
“I adore Baselitz.”
MS: Do you have an artistic model?
JM: I adore Baselitz. And this is not negotiable. When I meet him, I get snapping. (Laughs)
MS: Does your husband share your passion for art?
JM: Since Axel and I know each other, we go to every museum and talk about pictures. He often sees the pictures differently, approaching them intuitively, sometimes also strictly logical, like a crime scene. We often stand for hours in front of a single picture, talk about it and then go back.
MS: Are you so harmonious in everything?
JM: Axel does not drink tea. That annoys me. I used to think I can never be with a man who firstly smokes and secondly does not drink tea.
MS: And, does he smoke?
MS: When I met my husband, he was a chain smoker with up to four packs a day. Can you imagine that?
JM: Wow. As a younger person you are probably more likely to be addictive. I never smoked.
MS: Me neither. Never.
JM: I also could not smoke weed. I can’t even inhale.
“I never smoked weed.”
MS: Haha, I feel the same way. For me, tea is my daily drug. How do you like your tea?
JM: I drink it black without milk and sugar. However, I drink different teas at different times of the day. At the moment, I have a very bad addiction, which holds also already very long: the “BB Detox” tea of Kusmi. I think there’s something in it that makes addicted. There must always be enough of this tea in the house. I also like green tea very much, in the afternoon I drink Earl Grey and in the evening ayurvedic herbal tea. When Axel shoots in Kiel, I let this tea blend with Paul Heyck, a splendid teashop in Kiel. It’s a combination of “Wohlfühlen” and “Seelenharmonie”. You did not know before that I was so crazy about tea, right?
MS: No, and I am totally happy to have found a soul-mate in you.
JM: Really too funny. You and I, we are the same year, the guys we both have since the same time, we both never smoked cigarettes or weed, and both love tea. That cannot be a coincidence. BvH
Contact Judith Milberg:
The interview series “Meet me 4 Tea” is sponsored by KPM – Königliche Porzellan Manufaktur.