Beautiful dancers by the German/Danish artist Emil Nolde
A dancer moves ecstatically, her fluttering skirt barely covering her body. For Nolde her nakedness and unabashed sexuality tapped into primal instincts, signaling an authentic form of expression and a harmony with the natural world, removed from the decadence of urban dance halls. Yet two sketchily rendered figures to the left, behind the flaming torch, place the performance within the voyeuristic context of the German stage.
Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
Untitled, Imi Knoebel. 1977
A poem by Jean Arp
I was alone with a chair on a plain
Which lost itself in an empty horizon.
The plain was flawlessly paved.
Nothing, absolutely nothing but the chair and I
The sky was forever blue,
No sun gave life to it.
An inscrutable, insensible light
illuminated the infinite plain.
To me this eternal day seemed to be projected —
artificially– from a different sphere.
I was never sleepy nor hungry nor thirsty,
never hot nor cold.
Time was only an abstruse ghost
since nothing happened or changed.
In me Time still lived a little
This, mainly, thanks to the chair.
Because of my occupation with it
I did not completely
lose my sense of the past.
Now and then I’d hitch myself, as if I were a horse, to the chair
and trot around with it,
sometimes in circles,
and sometimes straight ahead.
I assume that I succeeded.
Whether I really succeeded I do not know
Since there was nothing in space
By which I could have checked my movements.
As I sat on the chair I pondered sadly, but not desperately,
Why the core of the world exuded such black light.
Luise Kimme was a German sculptor who settled in Tobago in 1979. Before arriving in the Caribbean she studied in Berlin and London and lived and worked in New York and California. Throughout her education she was pressured into creating modern and abstract sculptures inspired by Brancusi, when in reality it was the classical Greek sculptures that fascinated her. It was only when she arrived in Tobago that she finally felt free to do what she really wanted: Sculpt human figures.
She fell in love with the people of Tobago, and she made large, animated, wooden sculptures of them. She also carved mythological creatures and characters from Trinidadian folklore, such as La Diablesse and Soucouyant. Many of the sculptures were carved from tree trunks brought all the way from a forest in Germany, others came from Tobago itself. She used Oak, Cedar, Cyprus and Mahogany and sometimes made bronze casts from the wooden originals.
Kimme turned her house/studio in Tobago into a museum (The Kimme Museum Institute) which is open for visitors on Sundays. Known as “The Castle,” it houses hundreds of wooden figures.
I was lucky enough to visit her home about 10 years ago. I was only 13 or 14 at the time but I remember her charismatic sculptures, and of course the artist herself, charming and funny. I even had the chance to see her at work, and she asked me for advice on how to finish one of her pieces.
Her death on April 19th 2013 was a great loss to the Caribbean, but her work will certainly become part of the local heritage.
And finally, here’s a trailer of the film recently made about Luise Kimme, I Always Wanted to Sculpt Apollo, directed by Eike Schmitz. I haven’t had a chance to see the film, but this clip is worth seeing!
Eva Hesse (1936-1970) was a German-American sculptor known for working with unconventional materials like wax, cheesecloth, fibreglass, and latex. I saw her work in an exhibition of her Studiowork (test pieces) at the Camden Arts Centre in 2010. I remember her sculptures as very unusual, beautiful, and organic. Forms, textures, and colours which evoke parts of the body. There was a table layed out with little papier mache shapes that seemed to float on the surface, very delicate. I did a quick sketch when I got home.
Her interest in these materials started when she was using a disused factory in Germany as a makeshift studio and she became inspired by the commercial materials she saw lying around, excited by their sculptural possibilities.
She says of her work, “Don’t ask what it means or what it refers to. Don’t ask what the work is. Rather, see what the work does.”
Sadly, she died at just 34 from a brain tumour.
Test piece. Fibreglass, polyester resin, plastic. 1968