From Stumbling Block to New Star
Sculpture’s Back –
with a Vengeance
The video boom; all the hype
surrounding art photography and painting was yesterday. Now, the art world
is celebrating a “Return to Sculpture.” Following the Fine Art Fair
Frankfurt in April of this year, a series of important art events are all
under the sign of sculpture – ranging from Isa Genzken’s work for the
German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale to "Skulptur Projekte Münster ’07".
Tim Ackermann tracked down the new urge for the three-dimensional.
Works by Ina Weber, „Quality Street" - Fine Art Fair Frankfurt 2007
Courtesy Fine Art Fair Frankfurt
Ad Reinhardt once said, "is what you trip over when you step back to look
at a painting." The Minimalist painter and biggest riot rhetorician of the
New York School has been dead for four decades now, while the
three-dimensional in art unerringly continues to celebrate its success –
Beuys’ lard corners to
Koons’ rabbit and
Hirst’s shark. And yet: over the past several years, it looked very
much as though the art market was about to take Reinhardt’s aphorism by
word. Painting set the pace, first and foremost the
New Leipzig School. At the art fairs, sculpture seemed at best fit to be
obstacles preventing collectors from tearing the paintings off the walls
in a rush of excitement. A golden age for all artists capable of holding a
Birgit Dieker, Olga, 2006/07,
Macht des Dinglichen" at Georg-Kolbe-Museum, Berlin
Courtesy Galerie Volker Diehl
Yet times have
changed: 2007, it seems, is turning into the year of the third dimension.
Already in April, the
Fine Art Fair Frankfurt, sponsored by
Deutsche Bank, attracted attention with a completely different concept:
for the first time, only a single discipline was shown – sculpture – while
in Berlin, a recent exhibition at the
Georg Kolbe Museum focused on the Power of the Real. Here, too,
exclusively sculpture was shown. And soon, the "sculptress"
Isa Genzken will present her project for the
German Pavilion at the Venice
Biennale, which she also realized with the support of Deutsche Bank.
Just two weeks later, all eyes of the art jet-set will turn to tranquil
Munster, where every ten years the relationship between art and public
space is investigated.
Skulptur Projekte Münster is the title of the show considered
to be the most important of its kind internationally. And the
Deutsche Guggenheim will soon be working on its own expanded concept of
Phoebe Washburn presents her cross between greenhouse and overall
installation there this summer. Sculpture, sculpture – everywhere you look.
Yehudit Sasportas, The Shadow's Wall, 2006
Courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin &
Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
changed, and no one knows for sure when it started. Maybe it really was
Gerd Harry Lybke, who’s been stubbornly invoking the "return of sculpture"
for over two years now. The star gallery dealer is motivated by his own
interests, of course, because the painter stars he represents such as
Tim Eitel, and
Matthias Weischer can’t keep up with the demand. Despite this, the
Saxonian trendsetter once again seems to be right on the money. The fact
that the popular advocate of Leipzig-made canvases featured exclusively
three-dimensional works in his fair booth at the last
Art Forum Berlin – including a window wall by
Yehudit Sasportas and a baroque-looking figure by
Stella Hamberg –was worth at least a few lines of text in almost all the
culture sections of the newspapers. Thus, the Art Forum 2006, at which
other gallery dealers like
Michael Schultz, Barbara
Thumm, and Sies & Höke
reserved larger areas for the "sculptors," couldn’t be termed the
beginning, but perhaps it’s the breakthrough of this newly emerging trend.
Harald Klingelhöller, WHY POP, 2007,
Installation view: „Sicht Weisen – Kunst auf der Talachse", Wuppertal 2007
Photo: © Medienzentrum Wuppertal, Antje Zeis-Loi
Proclaimed by gallery dealers, fortified by important exhibitions – it’s no
accident that sculpture is undergoing a Renaissance on the art market.
Thus, Alberto Giacometti’s
bronze figure L’homme qui chavire was recently auctioned off at
Christie’s for $18.5 million – a posthumous record for the Swiss
sculptor, who died in 1966. The same auction brought in $9.8 million for
Projet pour un monument by
Joan Miró – eight times the highest price ever paid for a sculpture
by the Spanish artist. One of the reasons for the current boom might be
the frequently voiced conjecture that the collectors’ walls are full of
paintings by now, and that they only have the floor areas of their
apartments to work with. What’s far more likely is that the run on objects
operates according to simple market rules. Elaborate sculptures are
significantly more expensive than paintings, even in the galleries’
primary prices. Not to mention photography. This is why sculptures enjoy
success particularly in economically friendly times, and if a cliché can
adequately describe the current mood on the art market, then for the
moment we’re looking at an unbridled cash flow.
Albert Hien, „Quality Street" - Fine Art Fair Frankfurt 2007
Courtesy Fine Art Fair Frankfurt