Sculpture is the twofold focus of Kicken
Berlin’s spring exhibitions. Sculptors Constantin
Brancusi and Hans Arp represent
pathbreaking, abstract tendencies in sculpture
of the twentieth century.
Unifying both oeuvres is the extreme concentration
and reduction of sculptural expressions
and the continual study of plastic
forms in light and space. Photographs of
Brancusi’s sculpture in the atelier and Arp’s
harmonious and biomorphic plastic figures
create a framework for a visual treatise on
body and figure. The interaction of sculpture
and photography as a visual transformation
of plastic bodies happens primarily
through the manipulation of light. Through
photography we experience sculpture anew.
Brancusi made this standard his own. He
showed an early interest in photography’s
possibilities, which he idiosyncratically implemented
as early as 1905 to congenially
illustrate his works. He received instruction
in camera technique and darkroom work
from no less that Man Ray. The sculptor
found that the photographic medium afforded
him new, superior perspectives on his
own work. The effects of light and space
were essential; they exaggerated and transformed
the pieces, a “metamorphosis of
light” (Christoph Brockhaus), and expressed
their complexity. Light and shadow became
independent modes of expression. In addition
to the individual works, the sculptural
assemblages in the atelier were also important,
as here the work and the atmosphere
of the atelier came together in a
magic and surreal world.
Hans Arp, literary figure, illustrator, painter,
and sculptor, greatly shaped the course of
art in the first half of the twentieth century.
He was among the founders of Dada Zurich
and exhibited with André Breton’s circle of
Parisian surrealists. Arp related how his
early nature studies influenced his essential
and effective design elements over the
course of decades: “In Ascona I did (...) drawings
of (...) roots, grasses and stones (...).
Finally, I simplified these forms and united
their essence in fluid ovals, symbols of the
metamorphosis and becoming of the bodies”
(H. Arp, Unsern täglichen Traum…, 1955).
The “fluid oval” became one of the characteristic
shapes of Arp’s fluid-compact sculptures.
His late sculptural work is dedicated to
both natural things as well as the idea of
man, expressed in heads and figures. Essential
to both is the idea of transformation
or metamorphosis, to which Arp was introduced
by Wassily Kandinsky in 1911.